Children's author - Sharon Willis

During Term 2 of 2003 we spent some time emailing a New Zealand author named Sharon Whillis. Sharon has written several children's books and is currently writing some more.

Here are some of our questions to her and her replies.

Hi Starfish!

As always your reply was worth waiting for. I checked out the awesome artwork that has been keeping you so busy - it's fantastic. I especially loved the dotpainting.  Now, to answering your questions:

Q1. What advice would you give young writers such as ourselves?

A1. Keep you eyes, ears and mind open all the time. Be true to your characters - find out who they are and how they would behave first, then worry about your story.  And just write - all the time - emails, letters, stories, journals, diaries, lists.
Sharon Whillis Picture

Q2. Which of your books has given you the most satisfaction?

A2. 'Extraordinary' - phew...I have to think about that. 'To the Dump' was extraordinary because I couldn't believe something of mine was going to be published, 'The Boxing Day Test' because it seems to appeal to so many different people. At the moment though, I have to say the one that has just been accepted for publication - 'Old Scores' - because it has lots of twists and turns in the story.

Q3. Who are your literary heroes?

I have lots of literary heroes for lots of different reasons - NZ Writers David Hill and William Taylor because I believe they write great stories with real kiwi voices (David Hill's "See Ya Simon" and William Taylors "Spider" are two of my favourite books), Adult authors Kurt Vonnegut (because he writes books that make me really think hard) and Jilly Cooper (because she makes her characters live) - I'm not sure what either of them would make of being on the same list - K M Peyton because when I read her Pennington series I knew I wanted to write for teenagers one day, Enid Blyton because her famous five books made me love reading and because hers was the only magazine allowed to continue publication during world war two because it was so popular...and so many more. As soon as I send this I bet I'll think of heaps more and worry that I've missed them off the list : )
Boxing Day Test Cover
Q4. Do you like living in Rotorua and have you been to the Buried Village?

A4. Rotorua is a really amazing place to live. Yes, I've been to the Buried Village many times with people that come to stay with us and also a lot on my own because one of the stories I have half written has a lot to do with the Mt Tarawera eruption that buried the village.  In fact, I just remembered that I am off there again on Wednesday with Patrick's class!  It is an amazing place. No, I don't worry too much about being buried - I think in this day and age we would get a lot of warning before it happened and besides, I don't think it pays to worry about things too much : )

Well, your questions have made me think so much I had better go and put the kettle on and make myself another cuppa

Another group’s questions for Sharon.

Q1. What attracted you in writing rather than getting a  pair of headphones and listening to music or the TV  when you were sick?

A1. Mainly because I wanted to do something with my brain I think. I'm not a great TV watcher anyway and I don't enjoy listening to music on earphones - I think music has to be all around you to be really enjoyed!

 2.  What do you do in your spare time?

Read, watch sport - especially my son Patrick play soccer, listen to music, be with my family and special friends, drink coffee and eat way too much cake

 3. How long do you think you will continue to write?

Hopefully for all my life.

 4. What is the main theme you deal with in your writing?

I think I deal with being a person and all the complications that involves in my writing

 4. Do you live in the main part of Rotorua or the surrounding area?

I live in the main part of Rotorua in a very ordinary street in a house  that needs some work done on it definitely this summer!!!

 5. The final two illustrations in our version of 'The  Boxing Day Test' has Uncle Rob falling into the group photo. Was this your idea or the illustrators? Did you  write instructions for it?

5. John Bennett did that cool drawing all off his own bat and I love it. 
No I didn't write any instructions,  he just did it and it was great!!


Zen, Javi, Tristan, Schuyler, Ayrton and Savanah

Here are a few questions for you.

1. How many books do you hope to write before you pass  away?

Hopefully hundreds : )

2. Do you think you'll stop writing books before you will pass away?

I hope not

 3. Do you like to read in your spare time?

Yes, I love to.  I mostly read teenage fiction at the moment because that is what I am working on and also because I really like it.

4. Do you get ideas for writing books from things that  have happened to you?

Sometimes.  Or from things that didn't happen but might have, or things I've overheard, or seen...all kinds of things

5. Have you ever been to the Rainbow Springs? What's it like?

Yes, I've been to Rainbow Springs several times. It's great. You should see the size of the trout there!  Here in New Zealand you can not buy trout in the shops or in restaurants.  The only way you can eat them is buycatching them yourself.  Is that the same in Australia? It's connected to Rainbow Farm by an under road subway so when we take our visitors to one we always go to the other as well. The subway used to be my son’s favourite part of the visit when he was a pre-schooler!! 

 6. The book that you've written for teenagers, is it appropriate for kids our age?

I'm still writing the teenage book. I don't know whether it will be appropriate for your age group or not. A lot of that depends on what you want to read about. The book that I have just had accepted for publishing, Old Scores, is for 8 to 13 year olds and if you liked 'The Boxing Day Test' I think you'll love it.

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