Q&A

When did you start writing?

In primary school. I remember one epic - inspired by my love of Dr. Who and the Phantom - in which my family were shrunk and captured by ants. I used to tell people, 'I'm going to be a writer when I grow up,' but I was never clear about what I was going to write.

Where do you get your ideas?

I say in my talks that 'I'm a thief, a liar and a cheat' - I steal ideas from the world around me, I make things up and I fiddle and fudge reality to suit my stories. In fact, ideas come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a character may start demanding, 'write me, write me'. Sometimes a title demands a story to go with it. Sometimes I overhear half a sentence and start thinking, 'what if...' or 'why?'

Why do you write plays?

I wrote my first collection to fill a gap - when I was teaching drama, I couldn't find short, large-cast easy-to-stage ensemble scripts. I saw a need for a book of plays. Luckily, Macmillan did too. I love writing plays - I can see and hear what's happening on stage. I also love the idea of being the first in a crazy creative tag-team.

What is your favourite of the books you've written?

Like most writers, I love whatever I'm currently writing and I'm sad when I finish it. But perhaps Mirror, Mirror, because of the people who trusted me with their stories and The Formal because those characters took over at times.

Who are your favourite writers?

Again, it tends to be the writer I've read most recently. Favourite recent reads include One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding, Grace by Robert Drewe, Q and A by Vikas Swarup, Saving Billie by Peter Corris and the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz.

How did you first get published?

I got lucky. I researched the companies who published plays and telephoned one. It was Macmillan, and the wonderful Viv Winter said yes to the collection that became Big Dramas.

What is your working week like?

It's a juggle. I like to write in the mornings and to do all the other work - the bookkeeping, marketing, whatever - in the afternoons. I also have children and shape my working week around canteen duty, the grocery shopping and all. Some weeks I'm not able to write much, as I'm giving talks or workshops, or it's school holidays. Have a look at my blog.

Does anybody help you with your writing?

I work alone in my office at home but I'm inspired and supported by my friends. I'm grateful to my writing group, Jeni Mawter, Anne Melano, Alan Mills and Pauline O'Carolan who have shared the joys and lows with me. We met as postgraduate students at Macquarie University in 1999 and we still meet monthly. I've been lucky to work with insightful and tactful editors and publishers, such as Viv Winter, James Bean and Bernadette Foley, who have made the shaping of each book a delight. Books, like plays, are a team effort.
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