Video transcript
2017 NSW PRC author interview - Jacqueline Harvey

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- Welcome, everybody, to Session 2 of BookFest, The Premier's Reading Challenge Presents. We're absolutely thrilled to be here today. And we're heading into our second session now with Jacqueline Harvey, one of our favourite, favourite, Australian authors.

And just by way of introduction, I'm Yvette Poshoglian, the Premier's Reading Challenge Officer, and it's my absolute thrill and pleasure to welcome you here to BookFest. Jacqueline Harvey, thank you so much for coming in today.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Thank you so much for having me, it's absolutely fantastic.

- That's great. We've got so many schools tuned in from around the state. We've got thousands.


- It's no pressure. There are thousands of students watching, and they're dying to hear everything about how you write, your writing life, and hopefully some sneak peak information on your beloved characters Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose.

- Absolutely. Well, first of all I want to say, hi, everybody. I'm so thrilled to see you all. And I can't believe-- I looked at the list of schools, and there's a school right down by the Murray River. There's a school way out from Grafton, lots of schools around that area. It's great to have so many kids being able to tune in and meet authors without having to travel a million miles from school. So, congratulations to you and your team--

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Ah, thanks, Jacqueline.

- --on a fantastic initiative.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Look, it's a huge state. There's lots of kids. There's lots of stuff to get through-- but BookFest-- we're bringing it to them today, and tomorrow, and Thursday. So that's really exciting news. But mostly we're thrilled that you're here in the studio with us today. We're really privileged because we know how busy you are. You're always travelling. I want to ask you about that.


- I know it's for story ideas. I know it's for your character development, and it's also because you love talking to students. But you've always been involved with school in some way or another, haven't you?

- I have. So I haven't been a full-time writer for terribly long. I'm just going into my fifth year of being a full-time author. And prior to that, I was a teacher. And I was one of those kids-- I knew I was going to be a teacher from the age of about nine and a half.

But if you had asked me previous to being about nine and a half, do you think you'd like to be a teacher when you grow up? I would have said to you, no way. Teachers are terrifying. Because I grew up in the era when teachers-- some teachers-- they were pretty terrifying.

And I had a particularly-- how would I describe him-- particularly tricky year four teacher for the first half of the year. And he was not a particularly, I guess, nice man. He took great delight in punishing children, which-- fortunately for you guys-- I'm sure these days your teachers are all lovely. Whereas back then, you know, this teacher-- he wasn't so great.

So I was pretty scared of school to begin with. I actually didn't like going to school a lot. And the idea of being a teacher was just anathema to me at the time. But I was very fortunate. I changed school when I was halfway through year four. And I met the teacher who inspired me to want to be a teacher, and her name was Mrs. Hogan. And she's actually still a teacher in the New South Wales Department of Education.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Oh, fantastic. Can we give her a shout-out?

- Oh, I love her to bits. So, hi Sally Hogan, wherever you are. I think she is in Queensland at the moment.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: We'll forgive her for that.

- Yeah. [laughs] And the reason being that she inspired my teaching journey was that, unlike my previous teacher who was really scary and used to like to use the cane a lot, Mrs. Hogan was funny. She was clever. She was creative.

Every day was like the best adventure of my life, and I really fell in love with school. I fell in love with the idea of being able to give that gift to other children as well. And so, yes. So being a teacher to me was the original pathway, but I also was one of those kids who-- I loved to tell stories.


- And so the difference, though-- you know, these days kids get to meet authors. Authors do travel and visit schools a lot. They tend to be out and about. Whereas back then, I didn't meet an author at all when I was growing up. And to me, how you would possibly be a writer was a great mystery.

You know, my favourite books were things like 'Heidi.' I loved 'Black Beauty.' I loved anything and everything by Enid Blyton. Now, either those authors had passed away already, before I was reading their stories, or they lived a really long way away. And I had no idea how would you become a writer. So it was like this mystery. And I used to think that all writers must live in England in cottages in the woods somewhere.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: That's what I think, too. Because there would be a book-- you'd get to the last page. And sometimes, if you were lucky, there'd be a little paragraph that said, if you'd like to write to the author, send it care of this publisher. And it was always in England.


- And look how times have changed. We now managed to pluck you out of your daily writing schedule and put you in a studio, so that you can talk to the kids directly.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Talk to thousands of kids.

- And they're thrilled. And you described your teaching journey. Were you a secondary teacher or a primary teacher?

JACQUELINE HARVEY: No, I was a primary school teacher.

- OK, respect. And I also just want to pay tribute to all those year four teachers out there who are inspiring students.

- Yes.

- I just want to say, you described your teaching journey as something that you could inspire your students with and every day was a new adventure. But that's what your books also do because you're taking your readers on an incredible journey with your characters who are entirely lovable, and also a little bit cheeky, and a little bit adventurous.

- And somewhat inspired by my journey as a teacher. And so, a lot of my characters-- for example, Alice-Miranda, she was definitely inspired by some children that I used to teach. I worked in schools where there were children who were boarders. And so I had at one point in my career, I had a little girl in my class. And she was the only boarder in my class, and this was in fourth grade. And she was--

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: A boarder is somebody who lives at school.

- Lives at school, she lives at school. And so she was really brave. Because I think if I'd have gone to boarding school when I was in year four, I'd have been quite scared and sad to leave my home. And she was just such a brave and gorgeous little tenacious little girl.

And I remember her saying to me one day, you know, I'm so lucky. And I said, well, how? Tell me about that. And she said, well, not many kids my age get to do this. And I don't have any brothers and sisters, and now I've got all these big sisters who want to look after me. And I thought, what a great kid, amazing.

And also she said, you know the other thing, I'm just a kid and I couldn't change it even if I wanted to. So I could be happy, or I could be sad. And she said, and I would really much rather be happy. And I think at that point I thought, well, who's the grownup in this?

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: That's pretty much great life advice, isn't it?

- It is, and from a nine-year-old. And so, in a way, the character of Alice-Miranda, she grew a little bit out of Heidi and the experience that she had had at school. And then there were another couple of little girls who, I hate to say now, I think they're 27.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: They grow up so fast.

- They grow up so quick, and they inspired Alice-Miranda as well. One of them was always smiling. The other one was very, very smart. And in a sense she was sort of their characteristics in the beginning, and then she became the best bits of so many children that I've known. And so in a sense, Alice-Miranda grew into herself.

And so many of the stories have been inspired by things that I've done as a teacher. I wrote 'Alice-Miranda at Camp.' Well, I have been to camp more times than I care to think about. So the camp activities, all those things are knowledge that I could draw on from my previous teaching career.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: And have you been back to your school since? Do you pop back in and see the students who are there now? I'm sure you still have friends from there.

- I've been back to-- I've spent most of my career in two different schools. And so I've been back to both of them and spoken to the students. And it's lovely to go back and to see how things change and how they stay the same.

- Ah, that's so true. Well, there are loads and loads of teacher librarians out there and classroom teachers who have written to me, just saying how thrilled they were to have you talk in front of their students. And we've got a lot of ground to cover.

But you said that you've transitioned, you've changed over from life as a teacher to writing full time. Do you have a regular schedule where you get up? Are you one of these people that wakes up at 4 o'clock in the morning?


- Pulls the blind up halfway and has a cup of coffee, and then writes for 12 hours solid. Or how does it work because you're also travelling a lot?

- It does vary. So at the moment I've actually had quite a stretch at home. I haven't been on a plane since April, which for me is a really long stretch not to have been on a plane.

So at the moment what I'm doing is I'm writing a new Alice-Miranda book at the moment, which is called 'Alice-Miranda in Hollywood.' And I might be able to give a little sneak peek of that later on if we can. I've got a slide perhaps we can show later on.

And so I've been working on that, writing that, nursing that. And I'm actually working on something new as well. So I'm having this long stint, at the moment, at home. And I do try to grab chunks of time where I can be at home and I can be writing. And when I'm at home writing, I tend to try and be up and at the computer by about 7:30 in the morning.

Ideally, it's really good if you can ignore the emails to begin with and just jump straight into it. But [clears throat] excuse me, sometimes there are things that you have to deal with-- administration, that sort of thing. So I do tend to write all day, though.

- It's just super--

- Excuse me.

- That's OK. A lot of the students are also writers that do the reading challenge. So we do get lots and lots of questions about any great advice that you could give to budding writers out there. And we'll get to that a little bit down the track, but I think it's always a nice insight to see how you work. How many books have you written now, Jacqueline?

- So I've written 32. I've had 32 books published, and I'm--

- Wow.

- --just about to finish number 33, and I'm working on number 34.


- It is. It's been quite a lot in a fairly concentrated period of time. So Alice-Miranda first came out in 2010, and Clementine in 2012. So between the two of them--

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Quite a short period of time.

- --there's about 28 books just between the two of those series. So it has been quite fast.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Well, thank you for taking time out of your schedule. I know you're going to get right back to the writing desk straight up.

- I know, I've got an edit due to the editor by the end of the week.

- I know, and hungry publishers. We know what that's like. But it is fantastic, and I think the impact that you have had with young readers is just massive. I mean, they're some of the most-loved books in the Premier's Reading Challenge.

And the students who are watching right now are halfway through the reading challenge. June is the midway point. And this is the time where we're really trying to motivate students to continue reading.

And I just want to ask you at this point, have you got a piece of advice for budding readers, or really strong readers, or readers looking for new adventures? What's your advice to someone who is in the middle of the reading challenge?

- I think you've got to find something that you love. And for me, I love reading mysteries and adventures. That's my big thing. So I would be going and asking my librarian, can you point me in the direction of another mystery or another adventure? I guess reading widely is a really good thing to do. I know lots of kids do get into a series, and they just want to read that series. And I love that, and I'm sure you do, too.


- But I think it's great to venture out of that realm at times and try dipping in and out of other things. I really do think asking your librarians' advice is one of the best things you can do. Your school librarian, your council librarian, municipal librarian in town-- one of my favourite places when I was a little girl was the town library. And I still remember my mum taking me there when I was-- I think I got my first library card when I was four. And I remember the smell of the books, and I remember every week being able to go and choose a new book and asking the librarian to help me.

And I think that's really special. And we really need-- I don't know that we understand or that lots of people understand the incredible value of librarians and how important that they are. And your librarian can steer you in the direction of great books. They can inspire you and motivate you in your reading. And I think that's your first point of call, definitely

- That's right. And you know, even some of those classics that you mentioned, like 'Heidi' and 'Black Beauty,' they're on the Premier's Reading Challenge, and they're really well-loved books as well. And you can find them in just about any library, if not at home. Lots of classics editions floating around.

One thing that came to mind when you were mentioning libraries when you were four years old, I just remembered I've got some overdue library fines probably from around that time that I haven't paid.

- You might need to sell your car.

[interposing voices]

- To get out of that one.

- That was one of the things that always happened to me because I was always borrowing so many books. But I was also very lucky because I was quite spoiled with having lots of books at home. But yet, you're right, teacher librarians recommended a lot of things to me and we continued to thank them for their support because they really helped make the challenge go around.


- Let's talk a little bit more about the books and the characters. And do you want to talk a little bit about Alice-Miranda and how she's--

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Maybe what I want to talk about is how--

- --come to life?

- --I first decided on the type of books that I was going to write. So when I was thinking about the character of Alice-Miranda, she really came first. The character was what popped into my head first of all. And so she developed into this little live person who I often feel stands over my shoulder when I'm writing the book, which sounds a bit weird. But as you may be able to see, we've got some Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose standees here.

Sometimes my husband, he's a bit naughty, and he'll actually sneak one up behind me when I'm writing. So I do feel like they are over my shoulder. So there they are.

But when I first started to think about what it was that I wanted to write, I thought, I loved mysteries and adventures. So that was a big [? ticket ?] for me. You know, I was going to write stories like that. I wanted my books to have lots of funny things in them, so humour is really important to me in my stories. The kids being in charge, and driving the story, and being part of the action, I think, was just such an important thing. When I was a kid and I was reading Enid Blyton, and I was charging around the back paddock with my sisters and our dog--

- Wait, where did you grow up?

- I grew up in Camden.

- OK, yep, so?

- Charging around the--

- Kind of the country, isn't it?

- Sort of in the country.

- Very pretty.

- Charging around the back paddock with the sisters, two sisters, and a dog. Now, we couldn't be the Famous Five because there was only four of us. So I think we called ourselves the Fabulous Four for awhile.

- Love it. Love it.

- So the idea that the kids are in charge, and that they really are the ones who are driving the story and making all of the events happen, to me that was incredibly important. I wanted my stories to have lots of food, really good food.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Now we're talking.

- Chocolate brownies--


- --and homemade lemonade, and all sorts of delicious things. Family was really important to me in the stories. I like the idea of kids having a loving family, be it a conventional family with mum, dad, brother, and sisters, or be it a single parent family, or whichever makeup. We have zillions of different types of families. But the idea of family and where do you belong.

And particularly, that's an interesting premise in Clementine. In the Clementine-Rose stories, Clementine was delivered in a basket of dinner rolls in the back of a baker's van. And she was found by the woman who becomes her mother. So that idea of family, and what makes a family-- this particular Clementine-Rose book which is the latest one, 'Clementine-Rose and the Wedding Wobbles'-- there is a big revelation about Clementine's family and where did she actually come from in this story. So family is very, very important to me.

Friends-- lots of kids-- we all want friends when we're kids. We want friends as grownups as well. We all like to have friends. And so friends were important. I like to have animals in my stories because animals can be completely unpredictable.

- Yes.

- And they could add a lot of humour to the story. So Alice-Miranda has a really naughty pony. Her pony's name is Bonaparte. She calls him Bony Pony, but he's not particularly bony. He's got a very big tummy.

Bonaparte is based absolutely on a horse that I used to own. And my horse had a much more ridiculous name than Bonaparte. In fact, it's quite an embarrassing name. And it was particularly embarrassing when you had to stand at the top of the paddock and call her name.

- Well, what was it, Jacqueline?

- Moo Moo.


- Moo Moo the pony. And the fellow who owned her before me, he named her, so I'm not taking any credit for the name.


- So he named her. And he was my riding instructor. She was already about 10 when I bought her. So he would come to my house on the weekends. And I'm serious, he could stand at the top of the paddock, and he could call out. And he would go, (SINGING) ma ma Moo! And this silly horse would go, [gasps excitedly]. And she would come, [fanfare], running as fast as she could, [neighing] up to the gate.

If I did that, this is what she would do. I would say, (SINGING) ma ma Moo! And she would look up, and she'd go, hmm. Hmm. Hmm. She would spin around, put her head in the grass, and face her bottom towards me. So she was very naughty. She was really good fun. She was an escape artist like Alice-Miranda's pony, too.

So animals for me in stories, and being able to use animals that I know-- I had a really naughty Labrador dog when I was growing up called Suzie.

- They are so naughty.

- Suzie the--

- Pretty adorable.

- Suzie the Wonder Dog. And she was called Suzie the Wonder Dog because our dad used to say it was a wonder he hadn't given her away. She would do terrible things. Like she would go out on garbage night, before we had the big green bins, when we used to have just like the old-fashioned garbage cans. And she would bring home garbage from all around the neighbourhood.

And she would open up the bags and spread it all over the lawn. And we'd know that she'd been on a rampage when in the morning we'd hear, you rotten dog! Our dad, it was like the cue to get the gloves and go out and clean up. So yeah, animals are important.

I like my stories to have a touch of romance.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Look, who doesn't love a bit of romance, Jacqueline?

- Look, you know, I often, in schools, I'll go out, and I'll say, you know, has anybody had a crush on somebody? And you get a lot of sneaky little hands going up.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Well, they're quite brave to really admit it, aren't they?

- They are. Yeah, they are. When I was in primary school, I had a boy who-- well, I mean, I had a crush on a boy when I was in primary school, but there was another boy who had a bit of a crush on me. But he pretty much spent two and a half years of his life every day looking at me going, [sighs].

- It's nice to be admired.

- It was lovely, but it was a bit like after a while it was like, stop. Please stop. Anyway, romance is kind of fun. Interesting locations, and you touched on this before that I travel a lot. And so I do like to be able to incorporate really interesting places. Often, it's an overseas destination that I've been to that I can include in a story.

Just to give you a bit of a hint about 'Alice-Miranda in Hollywood,' I did travel to Hollywood over Christmas.

- What?

- And I got to do an incredible tour of the back lot of Universal Studios where I didn't just go in the normal sort of little trolley car that goes around the studio. We actually got to go into the props department and see. I saw the-- you know the great big organ from 'The Munsters'?

- Oh, my goodness.

- You know, I could imagine in my head Herman Munster, you know, [imitating herman munster].

- So tell me, how does Strathfield [? 010 ?] Studios compete? We're here--

- It's really--

- This is the bright lights big city of BookFest.

- Do you know what? This is pretty glamorous, I've got to say. It's not all stage lights and glamour.

- So Alice-Miranda is heading to Hollywood?

- She is heading to Hollywood. But she's also, they're going to shoot on a sound stage, so I've renamed the studio. It's not Universal, but it might look a lot like Universal.


- I've called the studios Goldberg Studios.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Oh, nice. OK. That works.

- And then they're going to shoot on location in a sound stage. And I was really lucky. A couple of years ago, I also got to record the first five Alice-Miranda books as audio books. And to do that, I had to go to the studios in Sydney. I had to go to [? mall ?] [? park ?] there.

And while I was recording in a very dark room-- it's a very strange experience. You pretty much sit in a dark room with a big pair of headphones on, and you have to read off an iPad. Because otherwise-- it's so embarrassing-- I didn't realise that it picks up every sound. So if you were turning the pages of a book, you know, they'd be able to hear that. So you have to read off an iPad.

But even worse than the pages of the book turning, so my stomach went-- one day I'm reading along, and all of a sudden, there's this [gurgling sound]. And I thought, oh my goodness. My tummy's grumbling. And my sound engineer, he's a gorgeous man from Colombia. And he said, oh, Ms. Jacqueline, I think I heard your stomach grumbling. It must be time for lunch. And I was like, how did you hear that?

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: That's quite helpful, really.

- Well, it was, but you know, a bit embarrassing.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: So could you have headphones on when you're reading out the books?

- You do. You have headphones on. And it's really quite dark, so you read off the screen. But yeah. Going to that particular studio as well, I got a bit of an insight into how the sound works and the Foley artist.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Wait. What's a Foley artist?

- Oh, OK. So--

- Somebody was asking me this just yesterday.

- OK. So when you watch a movie, and there's all the sounds in the movie, so you know, the sound of somebody putting something on a table. What happens is they record the movie, and then they go back and they rerecord the sound for everything. And the Foley artists, they have to make what they think that sound is going to be like.

So they might not use this to make that sound. They might use something else. They might get a pair of glasses and just tap it on there. There's a whole range of different things. It's like another world. It's really was the most incredibly interesting.

- Well, all I'm saying is every sound effect that's happening here is actually happening.

- It's all real. It's all happening, yes.

- No Foley artists on BookFest.

- None.

- It's all real all the time.

- None. So yeah, going to the studios then, and being able to go to Hollywood, it really-- there was a big Mel Gibson movie being shot on a sound stage in the Sydney studios, so I got to have a bit of a look and see what the insight into that was. So for me, being able to write with great authenticity is incredibly important.

But one thing I wanted to say to the kids is that, if you can't go to Hollywood, because we can't all do that, if you can't experience first hand, research is your best friend as a writer. And so for me, even yesterday, you know, as I said to you, I went to Hollywood, and I went to the pier in-- not San Diego.


- Santa Monica Pier. I went to the Santa Monica Pier, but I didn't actually walk the length of the pier. And yesterday, I was writing a scene that has the Santa Monica Pier in it, and I'm thinking, I didn't actually go all the way to the end.

And so YouTube is my best friend. I got onto YouTube. I found this great video about the Santa Monica Pier. And this lady taking you, basically, through a step by step, blow by blow of everything on the pier.

- Wow. Isn't it amazing?

- So it doesn't mean, kids, that if you haven't been somewhere, that you can't write about it, and that you can't have a great deal of authenticity in there. So yeah, the Hollywood, the travelling, the interesting locations is really important to me.

- Well, now--

- Sorry.

- Sorry. Go on.

- I was just going to say evil baddies and trouble and quirky characters, all of those things are, for me, an absolutely critical part of my stories. And I have probably the most fun conjuring up the evil bad guys, and who is going to be the baddie. And for me, the idea of the mystery. I like to get to almost sort of to the end and keep the reader hanging, and they have to really think. You know? Oh, well, I'm pretty sure the bad guy is X.

And then all of a sudden out of the blue sometimes there's a bit of a kicker. And you think, [gasps] they went the-- I didn't think they were the bad guy. And that to me is-- I know I've done a good job when people will say to me, I didn't pick the bad guy.

- Well, can I ask you something? And this is quite a private writer question.

- Mm-hmm.

- Do you plan out all your books? Or do sometimes when you start writing, the characters just take you somewhere unexpected? Because lots of writers write in completely different ways. And I'm always fascinated to know. Because sometimes it can be, I think, a combination of both as well.

- Absolutely. And the one thing I think you need to know, kids, is that there is no one right way to be a writer, that different combinations of things work for different people. And for me, because I've been working to very tight deadlines for the last five, six, seven years, I find that planning the story is pretty important to know.

So here is how I would plan. I would know who are the characters that are going to be in it. And when you're writing an ongoing series, like Alice-Miranda or Clementine Rose, there is an ensemble cast of characters, if you like. So there's a recurring cast of characters that come back all the time. But then I have to add in different characters according to where we are. The bad guy's got to be different every time.

So I often will sit and think about, well, who are going to be the bad guys, or who do I need in this story? I would think about the location. Where is it going to be set? And what is the big idea for this story? So I can give you an example.

- Yes.

- I'm just looking at my books here. 'Alice-Miranda to the Rescue,' which I think is probably hiding under here somewhere. No. I don't even know where it is. Oh, actually it's right here.

So this book here, 'Alice-Miranda to the Rescue,' this was inspired by a dog show. And it was inspired by a news story about a dog show, a very famous dog show called Crufts, which is on in England every year. It's like the Miss World pageant for dog shows.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: But more interesting.

- Much more interesting, and the dogs do really amazing things. Now, there was this terribly sad story. I was actually in England at the time. And there was a sad story that the grand champion of Crufts Dog Show-- it was this beautiful Irish Setter, and his name was Jagger, and he came from Belgium. And this poor dog, the owners took him home after he'd won the giant cup, and he'd been named the best in show. And he died.

And there was a theory at the time that somebody, a competitor at the dog show, had poisoned him. And it hadn't acted fast enough to do the deed before--

- During the competition, yeah.

- --the judging. So I was mortified by this thought that somebody would go to such great lengths to attack their competitors, if you like. Now, further research proved that Jagger wasn't killed by a competitor, which I was relieved about. Still terrible that the poor dog had passed away. But it got me thinking, what lengths would people go to to win? And so this whole idea for this story came out of the scandal with the Crufts Dog Show and how far would somebody go to win.

And I thought, well, of course, I'm not going to kill any animals in my story. That's not how I do things. But what sort of things could we do to sabotage a dog show? And so I had a lot of fun thinking about the sorts of dreadful things. People putting hair dye in the dog shampoo, and turning the beautiful white Samoyed dog pink, and all sorts of things that you could do to knock out your competitors in a dog show. So in terms of the idea for that book, that's how it came from there.

And then what I would do is I would plan out what I call the big ideas, so the main parts of the story. And then I always know pretty much how it's going to end, because I need somewhere to work towards. Now, saying that, there are times when I'm partway through, and all of a sudden, I think, oh, I need a different character.

Or this character-- in fact, in 'Alice-Miranda in the Alps,' this book here, all the way through, I had this woman as a particularly bad character. And she was with this particularly bad guy. And at the end, there's an absolute super twist, which I really thought of as I was actually writing it. I thought, she's going to change.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: If you can give yourself that reaction, that is pretty good.

- Absolutely, and I loved that that happened. So for me, it's the characters, the location, the big concept, the big idea, and the big marker posts of the story, and knowing roughly what the ending is going to be. And then I work towards that. But you know, my pathway's not linear. It's often like this.

And as I said, there are times when I will completely change my mind or something. A character will suddenly speak to you, and you think, oh, no. I want to take it in this direction instead. So I think you've got to be a bit flexible. Otherwise, I'd be bored. And I don't want to be bored.

- Oh, no. If you're bored, then the reader's going to be bored.

- Oh, absolutely.

- One question that we do get asked quite a lot, and I know that some of the students sent me this question, was about your covers.


- And you know, because your characters are so recognisable now by the way they look and the beautiful covers that you have. What sort of involvement do you have with the covers or the art? How does it work? Can you give us some insight?

- How does it work? So I have the most fabulous illustrator. And she's absolutely amazing. She's very shy. She doesn't like to do events with me. But I know she won't mind me talking about our sort of process that we go through. So what will happen is my editor and my publisher, so Holly and Catriona and I, will talk about the cover and the kinds of ideas that we have for it.

I create little Pinterest boards. And so for example, with this cover, for 'Clementine Wedding Wobbles,' this one she's a flower girl at a wedding. And so I went onto Pinterest, and I had a look at all these beautiful little flower girl outfits.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: It's just yes, such a cute cover.

- Yeah, so we kind of had an idea of the sorts of outfits she might wear. This one here, 'Alice-Miranda in China.'

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Yes, this is one of my favourite covers of Alice-Miranda.

- I love this cover.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: It's just beautiful.

- Well, this cover actually started, and it was going to be like a gold colour. But the problem with the gold, gold sort of comes out looking a bit like brown, a really nasty shade of brown. So we decided that this inky black colour was much, much prettier and worked much better. And it also highlights those fireworks.

This idea for the panda ears, I have a gorgeous little fan who lives in Adelaide. And she came to an event, Charlotte came to an event, and she had panda ears. She had these gorgeous little panda ears. And I thought, oh, I think I might--

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: I'm going to steal that.

- --steal those panda ears to put on the cover. And so that's how she ended up in the little cheongsam. And obviously, you have to think about what's appropriate to where you are. So of course, you know, 'Alice-Miranda in China,' you want it to look like it's in China. In the Alps, you want it to look like she's in the Alps. So all those things are important, but you also want them to be relatable.

And I guess, you know, what I love is Alice-Miranda and her friends and Clementine Rose have become quite favoured for dress-ups for book week. And so I love when children dress up as characters from the story. And I've had some boys as well, so I've had Lucas and Sep as well. And they will dress up and send me the pictures.

And on my website, I have a newsletter that I send out every month. And I always run a competition for book week to see the best Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose or Millie or Sep or Lucas or whomever. And we just have so many great costumes. So it's an easy one for dress-ups for book week, because you have lots of options.

- Well, look, Jacqueline, I could just talk all day. Can you just tell me about this particular--

- Oh, that's the Alice-Miranda lunchbox. That was a promotion we did a while ago.

- Lunchbox. Oh, my tummy's rumbling.

- But yeah, I love the lunchboxes.

- This could be good timing here. I think I might need to just borrow that one, if that's OK.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Take your own Alice-Miranda lunchbox.

- And see if this really works for me at the arts unit. We're running into the last five minutes of our conversation. So I'm going to ask you a few quick questions for the Premier's Reading Challenge.

- Sure.

- It's not pressure, but I do put authors on the spot. So we're just going to do rapid-fire questions, and then we'll see how we go. So first of all, where do you keep books in your house?

JACQUELINE HARVEY: I have bookshelves in my spare room. I have the room-- my dad is a cabinet maker, which is fantastic.

- Brilliant.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: So I've got both sides of the wall lined with shelves. I've got another big bookshelf in the dining room, and another big bookshelf in my office.

- OK.

- And beside the bed.

- Beside the bed.

- Lots.

- How many books would you be reading at the moment? Or do you not read while you're writing?

- OK. So that's a tough one. I do find it tricky to read while I'm writing. But that said, because I'm writing all the time, it's hard not to read as well. So at the moment, I think I've got four books on the go beside my bed.


- So two adult books, two kids books.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: OK. That was my next question. You mentioned before you love the classics. 'Heidi' meant a lot to you. I remember reading 'Heidi' for the first time as well. That's how I learned about Switzerland and the Alps, and it was a beautiful story. Do you have any more? And you've mentioned Famous Five and Enid Blyton. But is there another book that really had a big impact on you growing up?

- I think as a teenager, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was a really important formative book for me. But even before that, and it's a bit controversial now, because books are written in the time, in a certain time frames, and attitudes change, and life moves on around us. But there was a book called 'Pastures of the Blue Crane' by Hesma Brinsmead, which was set in Murwillumbah. And I really loved that story, and it had quite a big impact on me.

And it was about an indigenous story. And it was of its time, and I've read it actually not that long ago. But I still think it's got some really good messages about family and about connection. And yeah, I really loved that story--

- OK. Well, I must look that one up.

- --as a early teenager. Yeah.

- OK. Now here's a curly question. Any other kind of format we might see any of your characters in?

- Well--

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Or are you just busy bunkered down writing the next stories at the moment?

- I am. In fact, I don't know if we're going to have time to show a picture. I'm just looking, scrolling through to be able to show you a picture of 'Alice-Miranda in Hollywood.'

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Oh, OK, yes. Now hopefully we can see the new cover.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Yep. There you go. 'Alice-Miranda in Hollywood.' I'm quite thrilled with that cover. And just quickly back to Ann, I didn't actually get to say she is the most magnificent illustrator who does things in a flash. Like I wish I could write as fast as she could draw. She's absolutely incredible.

And the other exciting thing is I can't really give you any details yet, but there is a new series coming out in March next week.

- Are you sure you can't say any more, Jacqueline?

- Look, I'm going to give you a teaser. It's about spies.

YVETTE POSHOGLIAN: Oh my goodness.

- It's set--

- Anyone who knows me knows I love spies. You had me at spies.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: It's about spies.

- So many students, spy books are so popular on the reading challenge.

- And it's got a girl and a boy on the cover as the main characters. Their names are Kensy and Max. So she's Kensington. He's Maxim. They're twins. And I'm absolutely thrilled. I can't wait to be able to bring this book and show everybody. We're still in development of lots of things at the moment, so we want to have a big reveal a little bit later in the year.

- Well, thank you so much for sharing that top secret information with us.

- Well, if kids want to know more, they can always go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, because that's something that they-- there you go. There's a sneak peek if you go back to the screen there. You can sign up to the newsletter in the little sun on the right-hand side.

And every month, I send a newsletter out. It's got lots of activities. We have a competition. It's got lots of exciting links to things, so for example, I've been linking to some book reviews, not for me, but for other wonderful author friends of mine who have got things coming out at the moment. I've written a few little reviews and things of their books as well. So it's not just an Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose fest. There's other things on there as well.

And I do just want to say, too, though that, to any boys who are out there sitting there going, oh, she writes books with girls on the cover. Do you know what? I don't think there are books for girls and books for boys. There are just good books. And we've got to get past the fact that, you know, we need boys to pick up books with girls on the cover, and say, you know what? This is a really great story.

- Well, you know what, Jacqueline? From what I can see, I can see loads of boys tuning in to watch now. And we are going to have to, sadly, say goodbye, because students have to go back to class. They have to go to recess. You have to go back to writing.

JACQUELINE HARVEY: Have to do spelling tests.

- I've got to eat something, because I don't know if the audio's picked up my rumbling tummy. Entirely possible. But I just want to say, thank you so much for joining us today for BookFest. The Premier's Reading Challenge is just stoked to have involvement from Australia's authors and our overseas friends as well. But it really means a lot for us to have you here today and to make time out from your busy writing schedule and travel schedule.

And we're just going to cross now, because I want all those students who are watching on video conference, who can see Jacqueline on screen and me, to give us a massive wave and a cheer and a clap, and we're going to send off Jacqueline in style. So one, two, three, let's give Jacqueline a massive round of applause. I'm watching the screens. I can see you. You're not clapping. You better hurry up and clap.

- Yeah, we can see you.

- Now we can see some clapping. That's it. Give us some love, guys. And thank you so much for tuning in to session two of BookFest. Coming up, we've got the Illustrator Battle, which is on at 12:30. So check your local guides, guys, as they say.

Jacqueline Harvey, thank you so much. What a pleasure to have you.

- Thank you so much for having me.

- And we'll see you soon.

- And hopefully, I'll get to see these kids in person at some stage soon as well.

- Thank you so much, guys.

- So thanks, guys.

- See you later.

- Thank you.

- Bye.

- Bye.

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