Hey, Cate, can you tell me a little bit about yourself for a school project I have to do?
Sure. I’d love to. What sort of things would you like to know about?
So, when did you start writing?
I think I’ve always been a writer. I was a very early reader – I even signed for my own library card when I was four years old – and I loved to play imagination games and tell stories, so starting to write them down was just the next step.
Okay. Ages ago. Apparently. Do you still have any of your stories from when you were a kid?
No, sadly. My family was always travelling, going on adventures, so we never lived in one place for very long, and things like bits of paper and exercise books got thrown away. But I got to see and experience some pretty amazing places when I was young and that was fun!
Wow! What are some of your favourite places that you remember?
Hmmm… I think visiting Roman ruins in North Africa where I stood at the top of an amphitheatre and imagined gladiators in the arena below (I used to imagine that the gladiators and the lions made friends and ran away together), swimming in the clear blue water in Malta, where we had to go down a million steps to reach a tiny beach, and pretending I was a mermaid, and climbing a mountain in Wales on a misty day and just knowing there were dragons sleeping nearby!
Cool. I bet there are a lot of stories in remembering some of the places you visited?
Sure! But you know what? Even if you don’t get to travel, there are always heaps of stories around you in your own home town or the suburb where you live.
Or half way up a mountain where a dragon put your house.
Ah, yes. That, too.
Is that where you get your ideas for stories? In your home town? Because, obviously a dragon didn’t put your house half way up a mountain…
Er, sometimes. But sometimes I get my stories from a snippet of conversation I hear, a cool name in the credits at the end of a movie, or asking ‘what if?’ questions about something. But I do live…
What do you mean by asking ‘what if questions’?
… half way up a mountain. Erm, what if? Like, ‘what if a giant dragon stole a house?’
Oh, like in your books about me and Trouble the dragon?
Exactly! But you could also ask questions like, ‘what if there were Moon People living on the moon when Neil Armstrong got there, and he never told anyone?’ or ‘what if my best friend turned out to be a werewolf but didn’t want anyone to know?’ or ‘what if Gran lost her glasses?’
Ha, ha! She does that all the time. Was Trouble at Home your first book?
Trouble at Home was my first book published with my name on the front cover, yes, and I was immensely excited and proud, but I had stories published in anthologies and magazines before that, and I had written loads of stories that never did get published. I still write all the time, but not everything will reach publication stage.
Well, sometimes I’ll start to explore an idea and decide it isn’t really what I want to write about, and I won’t polish it up. Sometimes, I’m just experimenting. But I learn from everything I write, and I will use things in other stories later.
I’m glad you didn’t just abandon me and Trouble!
I don’t think you would have let me…
Okay... What do you like writing about best?
I like fantasy and magic best, and writing about how everyone can solve problems, and even the smallest person can shine in some way.
Are you calling me small? Because Henry is small… okay, okay, Henry, you are getting bigger… Godfrey is small…
No, Georgia. You are not small. But it isn’t everyday that a kid vanquishes a dragon in a staring contest.
Hmm. Okay... So, what is your favourite book?
I’m really bad at favourites, but I love Magic Beach by Alison Lester, and I have been searching for the wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for years and years and years!
Apart from Trouble. And Wyrd. And…
Yes, yes… So, what do you do when you are not writing?
Well, I’m a teacher, and a mum, and a grandma, so I do a lot of teacher, mum, and grandma things, but I also like to read a lot, go for walks, paint pictures, take photos, and drink tea.
Just like Gran! What’s your favourite place to write?
I have a cosy little room I call Cate’s Cubby at the back of the house with a view over the bushland beyond our garden. I have lots of books in there and a pile of art supplies. It’s also our spare bedroom, but I always have to clear a heap of books off the bed if anyone comes to stay! I love hiding away in there to write, but I will write almost anywhere. When I am writing I am usually in the place I am writing about in my head, so it doesn’t really matter.
What are you writing about at the moment?
Hmmm… I have several things I’m working on right now, including a book about faer… um, better not say their name, it can be bad luck… a book about a tiger, another about a raven… all about magic of some kind or another.
Do you have another book coming out soon?
Oh, yes. My next book is called Emergency Rescue Angel.
What is it about?
It’s about a boy and… an angel. And how sometimes everyone might need a bit of a helping hand. It’s about how it is okay to be very sad, but it is a happy book, and has some very funny bits.
Well, thanks, Cate. I think I’ll go away and write something now... What if..?
Oh. Okay... Er, great chatting with you… have fun writing… your project?