10 Quirky Questions with author Jackie French

1. What’s your hidden talent?
I can milk an echidna. (Do not try this).

2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Confession time: I don’t believe in villains, and can’t quite believe in any of them. The people who cause the greatest misery may be misguided, ignorant, confused, have their good sides, or be psychopaths or sociopaths. The only psychopath I have known well never truly loved anyone, even herself. She was a victim as much as any of the many others she hurt. I mostly read books without villains, except maybe Violet Sepotho in The Ladies Detective Agency Series: beautiful, manipulative and sashaying from fraud to fraud, but as she never succeeds, I’m not sure she’s a real villain. Real villains succeed, at least ’til the end of the book.

3. You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
Dead authors wouldn’t eat much and I like feeding people, plus there’s never enough time to talk to other authors as I live so far from a city. How about Tania McCartney to add serene elegance; Susanne Gervay for her laughter and the best gossip ever; Bruce Whatley because whenever we meet conversation becomes more and more outrageous, plus he really loves eating cake and I love making it; Danny Snell because I love his work and haven’t met him, and I suspect he is one of the wombat people in disguise; and Sue Degennaro because it is AGES since we have talked. 

Just as importantly, what can I cook? Chocolate almond macaroons with a white peach and champagne jelly; eggplant parmigiana (Sue is vegetarian plus I love eggplant parmigiana and it takes too long to make for one) and free range chicken with ricotta under the skin to keep it moist, with  a grape, lemon and tarragon sauce; purple potato salad; purple asparagus from the garden; and, to nibble before, perhaps tiny zucchini fritters with a beetroot or avocado vinaigrette topping. Plus homemade white chocolate fudge with coffee. Cherries, if in season, or caramelised seville oranges in winter. Ooops, nearly forgot: an apple crumble made from Bramley Seedling apples for Bruce, with vanilla bean ice-cream. Anyone want to come to lunch the next day to share the leftovers?

4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
The tardis. I KNOW it isn’t literary and it doesn’t count but I WANT A TARDIS.

5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Apples, watermelon, sticky keyboard, crumbs.

6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
Books can change the world.

7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
Neverbreaktrees; granite boulders tableclothed with rock orchids; a creek swaying through pink, red, grey and white bedrock; a vast overhanging Port Jackson fig tree; and me.

8. Grab the nearest book, open it to page 22 and look for the second word in the first sentence. Now, write a line that starts with that word. (Please include the name of the book!)
Gallipoli Diaries, edited by Jonathon King
Great the groaning and the moaning, that it is my fate, to write a sentence with that word, instead of ‘abdicate’.

9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
Shakespeare: Did you fake your death?

10. Which would you rather do: ‘Never write another story or never read another book’?
Dear Reeder,
Jackie wass last sene running shreeking up thee creek and hass notte been sene sinse. Hoppfully she will bee backk in time too feed us our carroots. If notte, thee dooormatt haz had itte. Culd sommthing in thee last sentance you rote hav upset her?
Yurs sinzerely,
Wilde Wizkers, 3rd Womboot Holle from the Rite
P.S. If it iz yur folt pls bringe caroots. Itt is yusually hoomans folt so bringe caroots enywayye. 


Jackie French AM is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator, the 2014–2015 Australian Children’s Laureate and the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year. In 2016, Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to children’s literature and her advocacy for youth literacy. The Girls Who Changed the World: Ming and Flo Fight for the Future is out now. For more information, see www.jackiefrench.com.

July 5, 2022 at 12:54AM Penny Harrison