Lili Wilkinson in the hot seat

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When I’m not eating bread, watching B-grade zombie movies and completing overdue work, I’m reading. I love it when I discover a fantastic book like Scatterheart, and I love it even more when I find out it was written by an Australian author, especially one as made-of-awesome as Lili (and with a name so cool that Word thinks it’s a spelling mistake).

First of all, wish a very happy birthday to Miss Wilkinson who (if my Veggie Maths skills prove correct) turns twenty-eight today. One thing that I’ve discovered about fabulous Aussies who write for teenagers, is that they are very prompt in returning emails, even on their birthdays.

If you aren’t already convinced you should run out to your nearest book store and buy every Lili Wilkinson book you can get your hands on, I suggest you check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

1. What three words would you use to describe yourself? (Don’t use the words ‘nice’, ‘pretty’ or ‘good’ because your Grade Six teacher will read this and be very disappointed)

Reads cereal boxes.

2. Complete this sentence: My teenage years were…

Reasonably angst-free, except for a brief flirtation with lesbianism.

3. Have you always wanted to write for young people? Or did you set out to become a brain surgeon and wind up stumbling down this path? Was the road to publication rocky for you?

I always wanted to be an author. Except when my mum (Carole Wilkinson) became one when I was a teenager, I briefly changed my mind and thought I wanted to be in the film industry. I was wrong. I started working at the Centre for Youth Literature in my early 20s, rediscovered my passion for YA literature and never looked back.

My road to publication was not so much smooth as slippery. It was more of a slide, which doesn't make for a very good story. But I'd been involved with organisations like Express Media since I was a teenager - people knew who I was, and had seen and liked my writing. So one day Andrew Kelly from black dog books called me up and asked me if I'd like to try writing a book.

Having said that, the first four books I wrote were commissioned. My next book, PINK, is the first book that I really CHOSE to write (not that I didn't love writing the others), and the first book I really sold to a publisher.

4. Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? (Or as an adult? Don’t worry; we won’t call the men in white coats on you). Tell us about him/her/it.

I had TWENTY SEVEN imaginary friends. But the main two were Coggle, who lived under the wattle trees at the junction of the Eastern Freeway and Hoddle Street, and Tina, who had pink and purple curly hair and arms that reached to the moon. She was pretty naughty.

5. Who were your biggest inspirations and idols growing up and today?

Jim Henson. He is someone who created art that was unique, thought-provoking, profound, beautiful and challenging, at the same time as being funny, entertaining and accessible to all. Also Barack Obama, Bob Brown and all the characters on the West Wing.

6. Complete this sentence: My life outside of writing is…

...largely filled with cheese, wine, television and the people I love.

7. Which books and authors do you love?

I love Meg Cabot, Philip Pullman, David Almond, Diana Wynne-Jones and Lewis Carroll. Some great books are The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E Lockhart), Love That Dog (Sharon Creech), If I Stay (Gayle Forman) and Tender Morsels (Margo Lanagan). Justine Larbalestier's next book, LIAR, is coming out in August and it is AMAZING. I am also very fond of the graphic novel series Y: The Last Man (Brian K Vaughn), Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O'Malley) and Buddha (Osamu Tezuka).

8. If you were a superhero, what would be your name, power and costume?

My friends often call me Super Non-Tact Girl. So I suppose my superpower is Truth, although the one that I'd LIKE is that one Mary Poppins has where she clicks her fingers and things are clean. My costume will hopefully involve underwear on the outside and gold epaulettes.

9. Xena Warrior Princess or Sabrina the Teenage Witch?


10. Have you read Twilight? Did you enjoy it? Do you secretly believe your own books are better? (I know you do, don’t try to lie…)

Yes. Not really, although I thought the film was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. Hmm. I certainly LIKE my books better, but I'm a bit biased.

Thank you, Lili!
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