My earliest memory of poetry was having a teacher introduce my class to Spike Milligan’s work in children’s books. He seemed incredibly fun.
2. When and why did you begin to write poetry for children?
I have worked as a professional writer for more than 15 years in the corporate world and while this is a great career, I wasn’t finding it massively inspiring. I loved writing poetry and creative writing in all forms when I was young, but I went over to the very serious side of writing to make my living after school and that took a lot of fun out of it for quite a while.
So in 2013, I just started writing rhymes as a hobby to get my creative juices flowing after my very serious work days, and then the ideas for my two children’s books, Superstar Grandmas, and, Mega-rad Grandads, just took over.
3. Do you think writing for children is the same or different as writing for adults (explain)?
I think it is absolutely different. I think that writing for every new audience is different if you are doing it with care. If you want to write for the enjoyment, understanding, or action of any audience you need to step into their shoes and write for them, with them specifically in mind – and I believe this is especially important when your audience are children. I like to get down low and think about the world as if I were still 7 years old. I’ll sometimes go back to places I lived back then to try to recapture those feelings and thoughts and then try to write for the little book-loving girl I once was (who still lives inside of the adult me).
4. If you could be any poet in history who would you choose to be and why?
T.S Elliot, not because I hope to emulate the style, but simply because I read this poetry when I was a teenager and the thought of this work makes me feel connected to that time in my life.
5. What are five words that describe your poetry?
Vibrant, punchy, symmetrical, rhyming, childish.
6. Share a few lines from one of the poems you have written that you are most proud of?
I wrote my first published poem when I was 11 and, although it’s simple and childish, it helped me tell the world what my very unusual experience of life was like (I was going through a battle with cancer and writing was a great outlet for a lot of confusion and grief). It makes me cringe a little but I’m still proud that I found any sort of positive way to express what was going on for me at such a dramatic time:
Wish so hard upon a star,
wish that you weren’t who you are.
Cry all night without a tear
to know the end may soon be near.
Hurt so bad it doesn’t show,
dream, but never let them grow.
Write, but never touch the paper,
not quite now but maybe later.
Think of days that may not come,
the coldest feelings leave me numb.
Carry on and value life,
but sickness cuts deep like a knife.
7. What is your favourite form of poetry?
I like to write simple and very structured pieces that use rhyme, however I love to read long, meandering prose that uses strong visual elements to tell heartfelt stories. I hope to write like that when I grow up.
8. Have any of your poems been illustrated? If so what did you think of the illustration?
Yes – I love the bright and vibrant illustration of Superstar Grandmas and Mega-rad Grandads (created by artist, David Clare) because I think it matches the energy of the characters created with the four-line rhyme I used throughout.
9. Where is your best spot for writing poetry and why?
On planes – no real idea why that is but I do a lot of creative writing when I’m on planes. It may be about the movement between my regular life and going somewhere else. I also wake up with poetic ideas some mornings – words coming out of dreams and sleep!
10. What advice do you have for other poets wanting to write for children?
Be childish – remember what it is to feel like a child.
Want to know more about Andrea, head to these links.
LAUNCHING MEGA RAD GRANDADS
After a bit of a wait, the Mega-rad Grandads book is almost here and (following the fun of the Superstar Grandmas book launch in December).
Mega-rad Grandads Community Book Launch
Sunday, 2-4pm, 23 April 2017
Grange Bowls Club
79 Sellheim St
Grange QLD 4051
Dave Clare’s art will be on display, and there will be games outside that everyone in the family can enjoy together.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviewed by June Perkins (part of an ongoing series on children’s poets)