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An interview with Debra Tidball

An interview with Debra Tidball

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and was it published?

The first story I ever wrote was in primary school: The Old Grass Hut about a convict who escaped from Fort Denison and out swam two ravenous sharks across Sydney harbour to safety. Obviously not about to be published any time soon! But I still have the story in my keepsakes box – it’s an exercise book lovingly bound in brown paper and plastic, complete with hand drawn illustrations. I can still remember how it felt to write it, sitting on my bed excited as the ideas came and how clever I felt putting them into words for people to replay the story in their own minds.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

My favourite part of being an author is that it’s all consuming – I get lost in the act of creating. Giving form to formless fragments of feelings or ideas is hugely exciting and gratifying when you get it just right.

Question 3: What is the hardest part of being an author?

The hours and the mind-space it takes to get it ‘just right’! I find it hard work to set aside the time free of looming distractions and then find the right way to say what’s floating formless around my head. I can’t just write in a spare half hour or so here and there. When I’m writing, it’s an all consuming quest for the story and the words to best convey it. It invades my head and leaves little space for anything else. So when I’m cooking dinner, or waiting in a queue, or driving the car – especially when I’m driving the car – I am constantly distracted by ideas and words and turns of phrase and similes etc. I need a pen and paper handy all the time  - I become hopeful that the traffic lights turn red because it’s not so safe to balance a paper and pen on the steering wheel while driving – although it has been done!

Question 4: What is your favourite way/time to read?

I prefer to read like I write – all or nothing. I find short bursts unsatisfying when all I really want to do is curl up on a comfy lounge or in bed with my book and with the hours of the day spread out before me. Nothing else gets done – cooking, washing, shopping, sleeping, nothing (apart from a mid afternoon doze). When they were little my children would groan when they saw me with a book because they knew it meant that they would be neglected for however long it took to finish. Now they are grown up they can cook and wash and shop for me while I sit on the lounge and read! Needless to say, most of my reading is done in the holidays.

Question 5: What’s your favourite genre?

I’m a sucker for good picture book – I’m a bookseller’s dream! I have to buy books that are beautiful, clever or funny and preferably Australian – not to read or give away to children, but to add to my collection. I love them.

I also love reading adult and young adult novels for pleasure and I’m happy to borrow them (although if something is especially memorable I have to own it). I went through a stage of listening to classics on CD in the car - it really made me look forward to the mundane drives to and from school or work.

Question 6: What’s your favourite children’s book?

As I child I loved the Beatrix Potter books and they still are one of my treasured collections. However it’s impossible to say an all time favourite. Of the most recent books I have bought:

The book that made me smile with the warmth of memories was Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay.

The book that made me laugh out loud was Nighty Night by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent.

The book I thought was brilliant in the way it was written and illustrated and the quintessentially Australian story it told was Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.

Question 7: What book are you reading right now?

What books am I reading? I have several on the go at the moment.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – I haven’t hit my stride with this one yet – there are too many interruptions, I should have waited for the holidays!

Heading Home, by Naomi Reed – easy to read in short bursts while I’m waiting - for a train, or a child, or the doctor etc. Thought provoking and uplifting.

Red, by Libby Gleeson.

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Comments 1

Guest - Debra Tidball on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 16:08

My Sister reminded me about the Beatrix potter soft toys I used to sew as a teenager. Visit my facebook page:
debratidabllpage to see a photo of my favourite - Mrs Tiggy Winkle.


My Sister reminded me about the Beatrix potter soft toys I used to sew as a teenager. Visit my facebook page: debratidabllpage to see a photo of my favourite - Mrs Tiggy Winkle. Debra