I often say that ‘memories’ is one of my favourite words and I say this because I use them a lot in my writing. Writing from the child within is something I was always told to do in my Professional Writing and Editing course at Box Hill TAFE – that’s now 20 years ago.
In my recent Words and Windows Exhibition held by the Yarra Plenty Library Corporation at the wonderful Eltham Library Gallery, I realised when I was sitting there one day, that my publishing career can roughly be broken up as – getting educational books published for the first 9 years – 1997 – 2006 and picture books being published from 2006 to the present. Of course I was writing picture books from the beginning and my first picture book, Queenie One Elephant’s Story was accepted for publication in 2003 – although not released until 2006. I have also kept writing and having educational texts published, until recently, when there’s been less time.
So, memories of childhood dogs, Leo, Titch, Jip, Happy and Bluey appear in lines or in the actions of many of my canine characters. Family holidays – stopping at the statue of The Dog on the Tuckerbox, throwing a coin into the moat and buying a bag of apples five miles from Gundagai, carousel rides all about Australia but especially at Luna Park and yes, visits to the Melbourne Zoo, Sydney and Adelaide Zoos where I felt a deep sense of sadness as I watched those animals kept in cages. I also remember rides on Puffing Billy, the winding tracks through the Dandenong Ranges, with steam blowing wildly and picnics in parks, close by and far away.
Other memories of doing similar things with my own children are more recent, like an unpublished story about our pet goats, Sugar and Cinnamon, a black kitten caught in a tunnel in Warrandyte and a magical dancing elf twirling on an icy lake (in my head it’s the Botanic Gardens.) As writers we all use parts of our lives, things that have happened or we imagine have happened.
There are snippets of all these memories, scattered through my writing, both published and unpublished and without memories, these stories would have never been written.