What has your background been before you starting writing and illustrating?
I have been a primary school teacher for 16 years. During this time I have worked as a classroom, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Literacy Intervention, English Additional Language and Physical Education teacher and across all year levels.
Have you always wanted to be a storyteller?
I have always been a writer. I decided at the age of 7 that I would write and illustrate stories one day. I have continued to write and be creative, apart from some pauses during university years. Being inspired by the children around me (students and my own children) supplies me with endless ideas and inspiration.
What was the one thing that impressed you the most about your journey so far?
The support of my family and friends and also the younger readers of my book. I felt thrilled and overwhelmed to have such a wonderful network of people who actually wanted to read and pay for my story.
How is your writing and art making a difference for you right now?
Like many writers, when I create stories I visualise the images in my mind. I became interested in wanting to draw these ideas and after some practise and joining groups such as the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, I found the confidence to complete a diploma in illustrating children’s books. Writing led me to illustration which is a major focus in my life now and it also led me to obtaining my current teaching position as a Visual Arts teacher.
As a child, what was your relationship with books?
Books were my escape, my friends, my favourite interest and my obsession at times! It was a regular thing for me to spend the weekends reading for many hours straight until my mum would force me to stop so that I could do important things, like eat!
What do you feel is the most important thing about what you do?
In both my stories and illustrations, it is important for me that I not only create a world that is exciting and entertaining for children, but where I also give children a voice.
As a teacher and mum, I have learnt about the many issues that young Australians experience, including mental health, poverty, being a refugee, learning difficulties, bullying, friendship issues and so on. I want to be able to address these issues in my stories and build an awareness of what children go through.
Another goal of mine is to promote how wonderful and unique children are.
Do you believe books can change the world?
I think that if parents, teachers and educators select wonderful books that inspire young children and address world issues, then many young people will aspire to wanting to help grow and sustain the world they live in.
What do you hope people will take away from your books?
I hope that they feel moved in some way. My recent stories have tackled issues such as mental health and poverty and I hope my readers have developed more of an awareness and empathy for children who are in these situations.
I also hope that my readers feel entertained, excited and hoping to read more of my stories.
What is your ultimate goal?
To write and illustrate a book. I am currently planning to create a storyboard and illustrations for a story about mental health and the healing power of art. Beyond that I am looking forward to writing a new middle grade novel which will combine fantasy realism and issues such as mental health and life as a refugee.
Has Share Your Story helped you in any way?
I have recently become a member of the Share Your Story community and have immediately enjoyed an online workshop that Michelle Worthington ran. I feel inspired to create on a daily basis and to put my work ‘out there’ more often.
What results have you experienced, good or bad, about being a part of the publishing industry?
I have an awareness and appreciation of the continuous hard work that goes into promoting and selling books/artwork. Being an author and illustrator is so much more than just writing the story or drawing the pictures.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
World peace and kindness.