Ideas come from all sorts of different places. The idea for Slide the Corner came because my husband was a co-driver in car rallies. He would never say much about what happened, because he didn’t want me to get worried about the dangers. But I listened when he talked to his friends, and I found it fascinating. I thought that if I was interested then probably other people would be as well. He helped me get all the details right and checked the manuscript to make sure there were no mistakes.
I wrote Driving a Bargain after I saw my nephew hooning around their farm in an old Morrie. He and his mates were having so much fun that I thought there had to be a story there somewhere, but it took me all the rest of the summer holidays to find it.
The idea for I am not Esther came from a student at the school we taught at whose family belonged to a very strict religion, he wanted to be a doctor but their church decreed that education was evil and so all the kids had to leave school and go to work. When he refused he got thrown out of home and out of the family. His story was so powerful that it stayed in my mind for about 15 years and it was that that was the genesis of Esther. He did become a doctor, but like Daniel, it was at the price of the loss of his family.
I met Bill Redding of Red Dog in Bandit Country at an evening school writing class I taught. He was the most charming and thoughtful person — absolutely lovely. He was desperate to tell the stories of his adventurous life but he was in a hurry because he figured he didn’t have that much time left – about five years he figured. He’d been used to writing reports and was finding it difficult to make the transition to story-telling. In the end I asked him how he’d feel about writing out the episodes and giving them to me to polish. He was thrilled and approached the project with huge enthusiasm and energy. I discovered later that every time I emailed him a chapter to check that he would send it off to all his mates around the world!
I wrote A Respectable Girl while I was living in England for a year. I was interested in doing another historical story and decided to set one in Taranaki which is where I grew up. Not the smartest choice when living on the other side of the world, but in a way writing and researching that story kept me connected to home.
Ambushed was written because of another of my nephews who reckoned I’d promised to write him a story but I never had. I said, “Okay, I’ll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?” I thought I wouldn’t hear any more about it, but only a couple of days later he rang me up and said: There’s this boy called Richard and he lives in a small town. When his family has to leave, the people get very upset and sign a petition asking them to stay, so they do.
I used most of his idea, but it wouldn’t have been much of a story if the family had stayed in the small town, so I made them leave and go and live in the city. Richard was very chuffed to have his own book with the family dog in it.
I started writing because at that time there weren’t many books around that were written for New Zealand kids about life in New Zealand. I believe it’s very important to have stories that are about us and the things we do. It’s also very interesting to read stories from other countries, but we need our own as well.
Lucky for Some came out of the time we lived in a little old cottage in the country for a while. Lots of the things in that book developed from things that had happened to us during that time. I really liked the character of Lacey so when Scholastic suggested that I might like to write a story with a girl of about 11 as the main character I thought, yippee I can have another Lacey story. But she is younger in Lacey and the Drama Queens so it is the prequel to Lucky for Some.