Some writers say they were born to write. I’m not one of those. My first published piece didn’t appear until I was in my forties. But stories have always been a part of who I am. I grew up in a family of writers and book lovers and have always preferred reading to partying – mostly.
My first passion, however, is the world in which we live, the great outdoors, and the more remote the better.
After studying Environmental Science in Scotland, I slipped on a backpack and took off on a trip of discovery that lasted twelve years and covered dozens of countries. To finance my travels, I taught English. Along the way, I learned Japanese and met my wonderful husband who shared most of my adventures. It was only when our daughter came along that we decided we’d better settle down.
In 2000, I arrived in Australia with a suitcase full of notes and have been writing ever since.
I still maintain a strong connection to the environment. I run an Adelaide Hills Community Veggie Swap which meets monthly. My garden is a microcosm of everything I love. I grow over forty types of organic vegetables and herbs, and have planted an orchard of seventeen fruit trees. I keep chickens and bee hives, and have taught myself how to preserve produce by freezing, bottling, pickling, drying, fermenting and cooking up dozens of jams, jellies and chutneys. My family are particularly fond of my ginger beer and limoncello.
In 2018, I won a grant to fund a series of workshops on Growing and Preserving Edible Produce which included speakers, Sophie Thomson and Malcolm Campbell from ABC Gardening Australia. These were a great success and reflected the growing interest in sustainability and self-sufficiency.
But most of all, my love of the natural world infuses my writing. My short stories and poetry reflect my travels, my respect for indigenous cultures and my concerns for the environment.
It was also the inspiration for my first picture book, The Land Belongs to Me. This is a story about sharing and respecting the natural world, and I like to think that, as well as being fun to read, it will generate thoughtful, inclusive conversation. Using a playful word chain and rhyming dialogue, I take a humorous look at how we often appear to be fighting over our natural environment instead of sharing what is a finite resource.
Published by Big Sky Publishing and illustrated by Shane McGrath, it is a gorgeous and colourful prod at what is a serious issue. I especially love Shane’s oak tree!
‘Who owns our natural world? With a strong, yet simple message we discover the answer in this beautifully-crafted picture book. The story is a thought-provoking delight!’ – Janeen Brian, author of I’m a Dirty Dinosaur.
CBCA SA – Instagram post: A gorgeous book we recommend you add to your collection. Launched today by @jacksonalys local author and poet. ‘The land belongs to me’ (Children’s Book Council Awards SA.)
In August 2019, my debut collection of poetry, Wolf Ghosts,will be published within New Poets 20 alongside collections by Julia Wakefield Houghton and Sharon Foulkes.
My second Picture Book, Hugo’s Runaway Legs, is due for publication in 2020 – by publisher Larrikin House.