Joanne Horniman grew up in a country town in northern NSW. She read books, rode her bicycle around the countryside, and had a glove puppet theatre company with her best friend. They 'toured' their show to all the classes in the school. On leaving school, Joanne went to Sydney, completed an arts degree and worked as an editor after a stint washing dishes in a pub. Since then she has worked as a teacher at TAFE and university, and she now lives with her family on a small acreage in the bush, where she plants rainforest trees and looks after a trio of chooks and a duo of ducks.
When did you start writing?
'When I was about six, I think. I had a collection of notebooks I wrote in. I gave up for a while in primary school, because I didn't like the topics the teachers set, but in high school I wrote short stories at home and sent them away to magazines.'
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
'Very bored. Nothing else interests me. Except, perhaps, being a puppeteer, or Dr Who.'
What are you reading at the moment?
'The thermometer - it's very hot today, and I'm wondering if I'll have the energy to write. Also Writers at Work, a collection of interviews by the Paris Review. It's very cheering to read what other writers say about the process. It makes me realize I'm not the only one who often has no idea where their book is going or even what it's about.'
What was your favourite book as a child?
'The Rocks of Honey by Patricia Wrightson.'
Who or what was the biggest inspiration for you to become a writer?
'Books. Reading a book that's really well done makes me want to have a go at writing myself.'
When you're not writing, what do you do?
'Garden, walk on the beach, mooch about, spend time with my family, talk to my chooks, read, drink lots of tea and coffee, cook jam drops, email my friends, talk on the phone, have coffee with people. Sometimes I write letters to politicians about issues I feel strongly about, or attend protest marches, so it's not all lazing about.'
what advice would you give budding young writers?
Read everything you like, write as much as you can. Rewrite as much as you can stand it. And remember, we're all volunteers. Nobody said you have to be a writer.'
School visits by Joanne (to all Australian states) can be organised through Lateral Learning. Visit http://www.laterallearning.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org