I was born in New Zealand in 1956 and first came to Australia in 1978.
When I first moved to Melbourne in 1981, I attended a creative writing class at the Footscray Women’s Learning Centre. This led to my studying an Arts degree at Deakin University and moving into the area of community writing. I taught writing workshops and was an active member of Victorian Community Writers for many years. I was also the Writing and Publishing Officer at Footscray Community Arts Centre for 6 years.
That first writing class developed into an ongoing women’s writing group, Western Women Writers. This group has been a wonderful inspiration and help to me over the years, and it is still going strong. We now produce Poetrix, Australia’s only poetry magazine for women. Its 20th issue was published in May 2003. Sadly, we published Issue 40, the final one, in May 2013.
In 1996 I began writing for children, largely because of encouragement
from a friend, Meredith Costain, who has written and/or edited a huge
number of children’s and YA books. My first book
The Too-Tight Tutu was published by Penguin in 1997 as one of the
first Aussie Bites. Since then, I have had over 40 children’s and
YA books published in Australia, and several in the US and UK.
One of the areas I was involved with early on in community writing projects was self-publishing. I worked for a printer and, through helping to produce a number of community anthologies and magazines, I began to teach other people how to publish their own books. This resulted in a how-to guide Successful Self-Publishing which was published by Hale & Iremonger in 1997.
In some ways it was inevitable that all the teaching I was doing would lead to something more “academic”. In 1996 I began teaching in the Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing & Editing) at Holmesglen TAFE, and then at Victoria University. Subjects I teach include Writing for Children, Writing for Young Adults, Short Story, Novel Writing, Poetry, Editing, Myths & Symbols and Small Press Publishing.
Most recently, I have studied and graduated from a Master of Fine Arts program at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota. The MFA is a specialisation in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Now I am studying for a PhD in creative writing at Victoria University, Melbourne, and my topic is fairy tales.
Today my time is divided between studying and writing, but much as I enjoy teaching, I do hope to eventually write almost full-time (I can’t imagine giving up teaching altogether!). I also speak at conferences, teach one-off workshops, visit schools (when I have time) and participate in events such as the MS Readathon and children’s book events.
I write short stories and personal essays, as well as poems for adult readers, when I'm stirred by a topic. You can see an example of a personal essay - With These Hands - here. This won the Ada Cambridge Award a few years ago.