On my previous blog site I was privileged to interview children’s author Jacqueline Harvey. Here’s what Jacqueline had to say:
- What does your workspace look like?
I work from home in the study which is at the front of our apartment. My end of the room has floor to ceiling windows on three sides and a big old oak desk with my laptop and another large screen on it (and usually a pile of manuscripts and books!). There is a lovely modern timber lamp in the corner and a built in cupboard which contains editions of all the Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose titles. The walls are Whisper White which I find very soothing. My husband has his desk at the other end of the room and the walls are lined with paintings. There are two book cases and some comfortable chairs as well as the requisite printer and photocopier. I look out onto the courtyards that surround the apartment which have lots of plants and a beautiful tree fern. It’s not a big space but I love it and it works for me.
- Who or what inspires your work?
My work is very much inspired by my experiences as a teacher and meeting and working with children. Until November 2012, when I took the giant step of becoming a full time writer, I worked full time in a school. Having been a teacher and Deputy Head for over 20 years, I’ve experienced just about everything school life throws at you. In the past couple of years I’ve travelled all over Australia and the world and met thousands of children and obviously before that I taught thousands more. I love listening to children’s stories, hearing about the things that interest them and working with enthusiastic and curious young people who are keen to know about the world. These days I still get to work in schools – either through promotional tours or teaching writing and I receive lots of mail – which often makes me laugh and sometimes even cry (in a good way). The travelling also greatly inspires my work. My husband is fantastic too – he talks through ideas with me and always reads what I’ve written (or listens to it if I want to read it aloud). He’s my number one supporter.
3. What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Stick with it. Listen to your heart – if something is good, you’ll know it and don’t be afraid of advice and constructive criticism. You’ll never get better if you think you know it all – I feel like I don’t know anything a lot of the time and I am so fortunate to have trusted people in my life who give me honest feedback. My editor and publisher are fantastic too and always straight up. My other advice is to go into the business with your eyes open. Most writers don’t make a lot of money (especially not in the beginning) and often have to juggle writing as a secondary job. I worked full time in two very demanding roles – first as a Deputy Head of Junior School and then as the Director of Development K-12, and wrote on the weekends and in term breaks. It was a huge amount of hard work and my school jobs always came first as they should have. It was only after Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose began demanding way too much attention (and selling well) that I took that leap of faith to write full time. There’s no point saying that you want to be a writer and never putting pen to paper. If you want something badly enough you’ll find the time to make it happen.
4. How did you feel when your first manuscript was accepted to be published?
I screamed so loudly that the teacher in the classroom beside me thought something terrible had happened! My class had gone to a music lesson and I was sitting at my desk marking when an email came through advising that my book had been accepted. It was surreal. I was so excited but I was also very naïve. Things don’t happen quickly in publishing and sometimes there are factors that are very much outside of your control as a new author.
5. What dreams do you have for your writing career?
I am so blessed to have the career I have now but to quote Shane Jacobson, ‘It’s been a long road to overnight success.’ Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose have changed my life and I can’t imagine not writing and travelling and sharing my books with children. Being published internationally as well as here at home has given me incredible opportunities to travel for publicity tours and I relish being in new places and developing friendships and relationships all over the world. I hope to continue writing books that children (and often their parents and grandparents) enjoy reading.
Further information about Jacqueline Harvey and her books can be found via the links below: