RAQs (Rarely Asked Questions)

Can you draw?

That’s like asking if a dog can eat with a knife and fork; I can barely read my own handwriting so never attempt my own illustrations.

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The Final Chapter – handwritten antique – First published 1984

What was the first book you ever wrote?

The Final Chapter (ironically)

How long does it take to write a story?

As long as it takes for the story to be told properly. A short story might take a few hours or weeks. Longer stories are easier to write quickly whereas getting a picture book text right can take me months and months, if not years to perfect. I’m very fussy.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

I have done many strange and wonderful things over the years. I’ve jumped out of planes, slept in caves, eaten alligator and survived a couple of cyclones but perhaps one of the most memorable things I’ve done is cruised across the Atlantic Ocean, twice. On the return leg, we experienced some very disturbing phenomena as we passed through the Bermuda Triangle. Scary always carries an element of excitement with it. It’s good to venture out of your comfort zone from time to time.

What would you be if you weren’t an author?

A hopeless daydreamer. Or perhaps a pelican because I love the sea. Part of me still wants to be a Vet. I’d love to work in a bookshop or library, too but I think I’d go quietly nuts knowing I’d never be able to read every word in the world.

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Stella the Cyborg from The Chapel of Unlove having a really bad day. Artwork by Ken Best.

Which of your own stories is your favourite? 

I like different stories that I’ve written for different reasons, sometimes because of the language, sometimes because of the subject matter. I had an absolute ball writing The Chapel of Unlove for Story City. The kooky story lines just made me laugh-out-loud. But it’s usually the story I am currently obsessing about and working hard to perfect that is my favourite.

Which one of your characters do you feel closest to?

I kind of like them all. It sounds terribly self-indulgent but that’s one of the coolest things about being an author; you can splice a little bit of yourself into your stories and characters, a bit like having a cameo appearance in a movie. I think this improves the overall authenticity. I have a special affection for a little girl called Jadie who appears in my short story, Park Ride. You can read it in the Short and Twisted 2015 anthology. Surprisingly, the character I feel closest to is not human. His name, in my story Autumn Leaves is Paddy. Paddy appears in the Zoo-anthology collection of short stories.

Other than writing and picture books, what else makes you smile?

Life. And cooking and eating, getting mucky in the garden, sailing on the beam and being in the groove, brown paper packages – with or without string, anything green, crisp autumn days and the smell of spring. Also, there is nothing finer than a medium sized take-home tub of Baskin and Robins ice cream…except maybe a jumbo sized take-home tub.

Is orange your favourite colour?

No, green is. Orange is physically, emotionally and visually very stimulating, however (for me at least).image-ice-cream-v1-october-2016

What is the one thing about you that people can’t find out from your Blog or online profiles?

I’m afraid, I can’t tell you that. I’m a Pisces you see and we love secrets. D’oh!…I’ve said too much!

If you are desperate, you can unearth some more things you (wished you) didn’t know about Dimity, here.