Awesome Author!

Author Susannah McFarlane talks to CHILL
 Sunday Mail
 Sunday Mail, 25 March 2012

Did you always want to become an author?

I loved reading but I actually worked in publishing for 20 years, helping other authors with their books, before I decided to try it myself. It was when I wanted to write a story for my daughter, then 10, that I began writing EJ12 Girl Hero. I wanted to write the kind of adventure story that I would have liked to read, books where girls do stuff – without the shopping malls, boys or make-up. Girls have plenty of time for that!

Where did your passion for writing come from?

My father was an English teacher and my mother was a teacher-librarian so it’s probably in the blood!

You’re the author of three hit children’s series – EJ12 Girl Hero, Boy vs Beast and the Little Mates alphabet books. How did you come to write three very different series?

When I am thinking of the series, I start by thinking about the kids who might want to read them. What would they like to read and are there stories out there already for them? After publishing Zac Power as a publiher, I decided it was the girls’ turn to save the world and it was that idea that started EJ12 Girl Hero. I wanted to create a girl hero, an ordinary girl who could do extraordinary things – with a little help from her friends and the SHINE Agency.

Boy vs Beast, which I co-created with Louise Park, came from our joint passion to get even the most reluctant reader hooked into a story. We wanted to hi-jack the world of video games and TV to give boys stories they wanted to read – and what better way than beast battling with 21st century gadgets!

Little Mates is for much younger kids and the stories are enormously fun to write and, I hope, read aloud for parents and children.

Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Everywhere! You might read something or see something on TV or when you are out and it gets you thinking. What would EJ di with that? Is this storm really weather or a fire beast?!

Can you tell us a little about Get Reading!?

Get Reading! is a great government initiative that encourages more people – both kids and adults – to enjoy reading books, particularly by Australian authors.

What prompted you to become Get Reading!’s Guaranteed Australian author for March?

I was thrilled to be selected to be the March author! It is such a great opportunity to get out and meet all the kids reading my books.

You toured in South Australia last week. What did the lucky kids attending your workshops get to do?

We did EJ12 on some code-cracking and secret agent work and then Kai Masters who has to battle some pretty tough mega-mutants. They were also some of the first to hear news about upcoming books!

What advice would you give to kids who are struggling to learn how to read?

Try not to worry – everyone learns to read and everyone does it in their own time. Make sure you read books you are interested in and books you can read – no one likes doing something that is just too hard and it can get frustrating!

What advice would you give to any children who have dreams of becoming authors?

Keep reading and start writing! Always write down your ideas, even if you think they are completely nutty – they might start another idea!

What is the best and the hardest thing about you job?

The best thing is being able to make stuff up – it is hard to believe that my job is imagining cameras hidden in cupcakes! The hardest bit is when you have to write to deadline, you cannot think of anything but you still have to write something, so you write anything that comes into your head, grimacing as you type! You can’t fix a blank page but you can fix writing – even really bad writing!


Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that your fans might not already know?

When I was little and had to walk to school up a big hill, I always wished I had a cloud that I could drive instead. Actually, I still wish I had a cloud I could drive!


If you were stranded on a tropical island and could wish any three items on to the island, what items would you wish for and why?

Is it cheating to have a solar-powered iPad so I could write, read and listen to music?

No way!