Katrina Nannestad - author of Olive of Groves
Tell us about your latest book – what inspired you to write it?
I’d been playing with talking animals in my writing for years and thought it was time to give them a burl in a book. If I sent them to boarding school, together with some naughty boys and circus performers, there’d be plenty of scope for adventure, charm, catastrophe and comedy … especially if they were supervised (or not supervised) by a befuddled headmistress like Mrs Groves.
My heroine, ten-year-old Olive, smart, strong and a tad clumsy, waltzed into my mind partway through the planning process. It was love at first imagining. Pig McKenzie, on the other hand, has been loitering around the shady recesses of my mind for ages, trying to squeeze his fat, slimy snout into a real live book. It’s just bad luck for this Wicked Bully that he made it to a book where he would be matched against such a stella heroine as Olive.
The rest of the story’s development is a bit of a mystery. Once I had my cast of characters assembled, the fantasy world of Groves took on a life of its own. I just went along for the ride, sticking my narrator’s nose in from time to time with a pithy comment or an emotional outburst.
Do you use your own experiences when writing?
Absolutely! I grew up in a neighbourhood full of naughty boys so had great experiences to draw upon for Olive of Groves. My own dear brother has done many of the things we see the naughty boys and circus performers do in my book. Truly unruly! I’ve also met one or two Pig McKenzies in my time. Bullies … BLAH!
Which author/s or book/s have had the biggest influence on your work?
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne top the list. These books are beautiful, charming, entertaining stories filled with humour. Both authors laugh at the silly things in life but they never get nasty. What a gift!
Do you have a message for aspiring writers?
Just do it. Write heaps. Have fun. Write for the sheer joy of it. Write what you love to read. If you love a romantic story with passionate kisses and a happy ending, write romance. If you like blood and entrails and scenarios where the main character is working frantically towards a monumental deadline, write horror stories, crime novels or cook books.
How and where do you write?
In my study, on my computer, every day starting at 10am. Boring but true. Sometimes I eat a box of chocolates at the same time, just to jazz it up.
Do you have a lucky writing charm?
No, but my dog Olive is always at my side, lounging in her faux fur beanbag. She’s not a lucky charm but she is a lucky dog.
Can you tell us what you are working on now?
It sounds rude, but no. Sorry. I really don’t like to talk about the things I’m working on until they are well on the way to being a proper book. Some ideas are juggled around then tossed aside. Others change midstream. I might tell you that I’m writing a quaint tale about a mouse that lives in a hermit crab shell, but by the time I’m halfway through, it has turned into a horror story about reality TV. I don’t always have complete control over my imagination or my characters. Talking about it just gets embarrassing and makes me sound like a real duffer. Which I am, but why let everyone know?