Kyle Mewburn has had over 40 children’s books published in nine countries. Her work has won numerous awards, including the NZ Post Children’s Book of the Year for Old Hu-Hu. Her other titles include Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! (2008 NZ Post Book Awards Best Picture Book and Children’s Choice), Melu (2013 NZ Post Book Awards Children’s Choice), as well as the popular series collaborations with Donovan Bixley, Dinosaur Rescue and Dragon Knight. Originally from Brisbane, Kyle lives with her wife in a grass-roofed, self-built house in Central Otago, NZ.
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in the hot, sweltery city of Brisbane, Australia. Now I live in Millers Flat in Central Otago, which is kind of the complete opposite.
Where did you go to school? Did you have a nickname?
I went to school in Brisbane. Even though everyone was descendants of convicts, nobody ever tried to nick my name.
What were you like in school? What is the naughtiest thing you did?
I was an absolute, trouble-free ANGEL at school. I was NEVER in trouble and ALWAYS did exactly what the teacher asked. I NEVER fought and I certainly NEVER got thrown out of the class for reading comics. NOT ONCE!
What was your favourite book growing up?
The Phantom Tollbooth. It is the funniest book in the world. Ever.
Who is your favourite children’s author?
Apart from me? Emily Gravett. I think she’s very clever, and possibly slightly mad.
What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
I love anything made of mince and/or pasta. My favourite colour is Spring. And my favourite movie is Groundhog Day ... My favourite movie is Groundhog Day.
Who inspired you to write/illustrate?
When I was growing up, nobody thought being a writer was a proper job, so nobody inspired me to write. In fact, most people tried to discourage me!
How did you get started? How old were you?
I always loved writing, so one day, when I was nearly 40, I just sat down and started writing. I haven’t stopped since.
Why did you want to be a writer?
I really wanted to be a pirate, but when they told me I had to have a hook, an eyepatch or a pegleg if I wanted to be a good pirate, I decided to be a writer instead. Writers don’t need hooks, eyepatches or peglegs - they just need a very thick skin and a hard bottom.
How do you think up ideas?
My ideas kind of creep up on me, really. Like a tiger. One second I’m minding my own business. The next second I’ve got this idea gnawing away at my brain. The only way to stop it, is to turn it into a story.
Do you have a special place where you write?
I need a very, VERY quiet place to write. The ideal place would be somewhere on the moon. But it’s very expensive to catch a taxi to the moon, so I have a tiny room in the top of my house. Sometimes I have to wear earplugs if the birds are too noisy.
What is the best thing about being an author?
Most of the time I visit schools, I get to eat an enormous banquet in the staff room at morning tea. The teachers always pretend they don’t always eat like that, but I think they’re just saying that so I don’t come back every morning tea!
Have you had a funny or embarrassing moment as an author?
No. Absolutely not. Writing is a very, VERY serious business. So even if I accidentally fart in front of a class, it’s not funny or embarrassing AT ALL.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m either in my garden singing to my vegies, in my creek chatting to fish, or exploring the strange world I discovered in the back of my cupboard.
What would you have chosen to be if you were not an author?
Definitely a pirate. Or maybe Captain Nemo.
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Noah. I’d really like to find out why he didn’t make an Ark big enough for the dinosaurs. I know dinosaurs are very smelly, and I probably wouldn’t want one on my Ark, either. But they
can’t be any smellier than walruses ... can they?
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
You ARE very nosy, aren’t you?