15 September 2011

COOL Awards Shortlisted Author Susannah McFarlane

The COOL Awards are the Children's Choice Book Awards in the ACT.

Susannah's book EJ12 Girl Hero: Rocky Road  has made it onto this year’s shortlist in the younger readers category. Read on to find out more about Susannah, what inspired her to be a writer and more.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I first wanted to be a cowboy and then, for a long time, a vet. It was not until late in high school that I wanted to work with books and I began work in publishing when I finished university.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? And what prompted you to become a writer?
For a long time I didn't want to be a writer at all - I loved working in publishing with authors, as a publicist, in marketing and then as a publisher but I didn't think I was a writer. I had always written but committing to a book is much a bigger, and scarier thing!

Are you inspired by any particular books or authors? What’s on your bookshelf?
Lots of them, normally the last one I read. I love reading one particular author but then also discovering a new one. Our bookshelves take over our living room - it's fantastic to see all your friends up there.

If you could work with any author who would it be?
I have been so lucky to work with so many authors but as a writer now, I would love to collaborate with illustrators more, it's a very special thing when you put an author with an illustrator, the words and pictures inter-twine and feed off each other to produce something better than either could have produced by themselves

What’s your writing process like? Do you make an outline or just start writing?
I spend a lot of time thinking around the book which is the fun part - it's like a giant brain-storm and you don't have to commit to anything! Then the hard part is to make the choices about what will build the story. There are quite a few false starts and lots of re-writes.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I remember one writer saying you need to treat it like any other job: sit at your desk and do it, you can't just wait to be 'feeling creative'. I think that's true and even if you write rubbish, you can fix rubbish but you can't fix a blank screen!

The dreaded writer’s block; Ever have it? How do you beat it?
Write through it. It can be quite painful, writing stuff you don't like but in amongst all that stuff is normally a little hint of something that might work

What is your favourite word and why?
Discombobulate (to throw into a state confusion) - it is almost onomatopoeic, like whoosh, which I also like a lot.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like cooking and eating (luckily I also like exercise) and I love laughing so going to comedy shows, listening to funny friends and family. My family tells me my jokes are not so funny

What does your family think of your writing?
I am not sure - I will ask them!

Anything new being worked on at the moment?
I am pretty busy with new EJ12 Girl Hero stories (that girl has a lot of very tricky missions coming up) and also a picture book series I write called Little Mates. There is a one book for each letter of the alphabet about an Australian animal: Amazing Amelia the Ant, Bouncy Ben the Bilby etc - I dreading X! I have also begun to think of a new series of books for girls but it is still just swirling around in my mind for now

How can fans get updates for your upcoming books?
There is a new website coming in October susannahmcfarlane.com and EJ12 fans can always check out ej12girlhero.com and Boy vs Beast fans, boyvsbeast.com - the games are great but I can never get on the high-score board

Do you have any special aspirations for the future? would you ever consider being anything other than a writer?
I have only really just started being a writer so I think I will enjoy that for now!

Stay tuned for more blog posts by COOL Award shortlised authors!

For more information on the COOL Awards click here

To see what other books are on the shortlist click here