Author Interview: Mem Fox

February 6, 2012

I love Mem Fox’s books. If you haven’t been lulled to sleep by Time for Bed or wishing for a moment or two of invisibility like Hush does in Possum Magic, you are definitely missing out! Her website is wonderfully full, too. And entertaining! I was so tickled to read Ms. Fox’s list of Loves and Loathings. Among her loves are green paper clips, world peace, and a clean kitchen sink. Among her loathings are cleaning up dog vomit, racial intolerance, brown clothes, and mobile phones in airport lounges. Agreed. Friends, I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.


Q: If you close your eyes and think back on your earliest memory of your youth, what’s the one image that springs to mind?

A: Playing a game with stones, a game that included a chanting rhyme, with other little girls on the mission I grew up on in Africa. The others were all African. None of us noticed.

Q: Were your parents creative or did they encourage you to think differently?

A: Very creative indeed. Both were published writers and politically out there, into social justice and equality in a country whose whole system was based on racism. We were taught never to be one of the crowd, and to think outside the current givens in our society.

Q: What do you think contributed most to your creativity?

A: Probably all the books I read. How can a writer not have been a reader?

Q: Possum Magic was rejected nine times over five years, but went on to become the best-selling children’s book in Australia. Did you ever doubt that you’d make it as a published writer?

A: Oh, yes!

Q: Did you ever doubt your talents?

A: I still do!

Q: Was the publishing of Possum Magic the point when you felt you could make a serious career with your writing talent?

A: No, not really. I had published three books before I saw it as a possible career option. I didn’t take up that option until 14 years after Possum Magic was published. I loved teaching too much to say goodbye to it.

Q: Your first love, as you’ve stated, is teaching. What’s the best advice you can give parents when it comes to teaching our own children?

A: Read to them endlessly, for the sake of the love between you and not the educational duty of care.

Q: What, in your opinion, makes a child fall in love with reading?

A: The same: reading endlessly, many books a day, often the same book over and over again. Don’t just read here or there a couple of times a week. Read my book Reading Magic and it will all fall into place; your child will not fail to learn to read easily and quickly and happily.

Q: What is your best and never-ending source for inspiration?

A: Life and what it throws at me.

Q: What’s the first book that made you cry?

A: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Q: The one book you wish you’d written?

A: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Image by Jo-anna Robinson.

Q:  Describe the view from your office.

A: None: it’s internal to the house with high windows into the sitting room below. I didn’t want a view. I felt it would be mighty distracting.

Q: Your perfect day would include these things:

A: Sleep and more sleep, and then a little nap.

—-

Thank you, Mem! It’s so reassuring to hear that you still doubt your talents…even though we certainly don’t!

Friends, I have to be honest; every time an author, whose books we adore and read often, agrees to an interview, I’m always a little star-struck when they respond! I’ve told you this before, but our landlords so graciously left a stack of books for the kids that we found the first night we arrived to La Cressonnière, among them several by Ms. Fox, so she will forever be connected to our memories of our time here in France. I like that connection very much.

I’m curious: What would your perfect day include? I’d love to hear all about it!

You can find the entire Author Interview Series here.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 susan February 6, 2012 at 6:03 am

I loved this post almost as much as I love your house tour posts or your posts about your family in France! I loved reading to my children through the years. I am still reading to my 3 at home with special needs. It has made a huge difference in their lives.

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2 Mills February 6, 2012 at 6:09 am

My favorite part of the interview was the wonderful advice for teaching our children about reading…”Read to them endlessly, for the sake of the love between you and not the educational duty of care.” Such an inspiring interview. Thank you, both!

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3 trish February 6, 2012 at 6:23 am

she’s one of our favorites, so glad you were able to interview her! and i agree w/ the sleep and more sleep, followed by a nap ;-)

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4 Christineb February 6, 2012 at 6:38 am

thank you, lovely interview. one of our fave books is time for bed.

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5 Margie February 6, 2012 at 7:18 am

Thank you for the great interview …. I’m off to nap :)

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6 Shannon @ A Mom's Year February 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

Oh my goodness! I’m so happy you’re featuring this wonderful book. We started reading this story every night when our oldest was just months old. We read it so much we started saying, “It’s time for bed, little mouse, little mouse” every night. And then we took to calling him “mouse.” And we still do, even though he’s taller than I am now!

So this book started that sweet nickname (he even has a Christmas stocking with a mouse on it) and our family’s most treasured ritual: reading every night as a family before bed. God bless Mem Fox!

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7 Heather February 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

Love Mem Fox & her books. As others have stated, Time for Bed is our fav & read every night for years. You are so lucky to have interviewed the great Mem Fox! Thank you!

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8 Stephanie Carrico February 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

I love her work….put my boys to bed many nights with her TIME FOR BED…my boys have long outgrown that story but I still will flip through it from time to time; for the memories it envokes….

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9 Rae February 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

Her book, Reading Magic, changed me. It’s a great baby shower book, especially paired with some family favorite books.

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10 artfulife February 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

Oh I love Time for Bed! It was one of the very first board books I bought when I had my first baby (almost 12 years ago!). I’m so glad she kept following her dreams. Thanks for sharing your talent with us Mem Fox!

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11 Gina February 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks for reminding me how special this book is to our family. This, along with Goodnight Moon, was a nightly read for both of my kids well before they could even understand the words I read. Truly one of my favorite bedtime reads. I know find my 5yo beginner reader reading it to herself at night.

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12 Jenny Meyerson February 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Oh, this was my favorite hands down. We love Time for Bed but our family favorite is Koala Lou. The mama koala always says, “Koala Lou, I do love you.” So when our kids were little we gave them all nicknames to rhyme with Koala Lou. To this day, we say to our 13 year old, “Rebecca Boo, I do love you.” And even though she is a cool teenager now, she still smiles when I say it and has never asked me to stop.
So struck with joy at this interview. I have thoroughly loved them all, but I find myself almost a little weepy at this one.
Thank you Ms. Fox for your writings. I’m so eternally grateful for your gift that you have shared with my 4 children. And thank you Gabrielle for the gift of this series.

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13 Carrie February 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

Seeing Time for Bed again brought tears to my eyes. I read that board book to my son, who’s now almost 12. I miss that time and all those beautiful picture books, but we still read together!

I am grateful to Ms. Fox for writing such a lovely bedtime book and helping to instill a love of reading in children.

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14 Kelly February 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thanks for a great interview. I just bought another great Fox book to add to our collection. “Ten little fingers and ten little toes” is the perennial favorite in our house. My toddler brings it to me at least 2 or 3 times a day and giggles every time I count his fingers and toes near the end and now sticks his face up to be kissed at the appropriate place in the story. Such a great bonding book!

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15 ann-marie February 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Thank you, thank you for doing this interview. Mem Fox is one of our VERY favorites. I can’t wait to share this with my kids later today. Thank you!

Another great author and illustrator of children’s books is Jon J. Muth.

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16 Sara February 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Love, love, love Mem Fox! I got to see her speak at a CCIRA conference years back {before I had my own kiddos} and she said the same thing back then, “Don’t just enjoy my books once. Read them again and again and again. That is how you teach a love of reading.” She was right! Thank you for sharing this great interview :)

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17 Olivia February 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

This book used to be my favorite as a little girl! I’d read it at my grandma’s every single night i spent the night. I can’t believe i forgot it until now! I love the interview too. Thank you so much!

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18 Bridgette February 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Time For Bed has been my go to baby gift for years!

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19 Sasha February 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Thank you Gabrielle and thank you Mem Fox for the wonderful interview!

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20 Tan February 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm

!!!! I am so amazing you got to interview Mem Fox! Wow star struck indeed!!
I always, always read ‘Possum Magic’ to all my students. It’s often the first Mem Fox book they’ve read and they all absolutely love it!

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21 Justine February 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Oh, I adore Mem Fox! I love when I read her books aloud and the words just roll easily off the tongue. And I appreciate her words about parents reading to children for the enjoyment of reading. Thanks for the interview!

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22 jeanine February 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

I love love love Mem Fox’s books. Her words are so poignant and those illustrations always fit like magic. Thanks so much for sharing an interview here with her. What a treat!

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23 carrie mckown February 7, 2012 at 12:22 am

I’ve read this book – each and every night now for over 6 1/2 years. My two little boys love it and know it by heart. We still read books every night and ALWAYS end with Time for Bed. Magically famous in my home – thanks for sharing this interview!

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24 se7en February 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Oh this is lovely!!! Thank you for your wonderful interviews… we love Possum Magic!!!

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25 emily February 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

love this book and the interview questions! you have me thinking about the earliest memory of my youth, which is a nice way to end the day.

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26 Kathleen February 7, 2012 at 10:55 pm

That was lovely! We love so many Mem Fox books in our home. One of our favorites is “Wombat Divine”. Every time we read it, my boys both sigh, and agree that Wombat’s performance really was divine.

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27 Kellie February 8, 2012 at 3:12 am

Hi Gabrielle, I’ve been reading your lovely blog for a little while now but was never confident to comment, until this post. Am so thrilled you were able to interview and feature “our” Mem Fox (yes, I’m Australian). She is so inspiring and her books are indeed wonderful, as are the illustrations. My favourite will always be “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes”. My, now 9 yr old son, Felix, learned to read by reading it to our very sick little baby Daisy, and when she passed away aged 3, two years ago, he read it, with his lovely Kindergarten teacher, at Daisy’s funeral. The last pages will forever make me cry. All of her books are gorgeous, but that one is our favourite.

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28 Janelle Chapman February 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Love Mem Fox! What a lovely interview! Thank you! I’m Aussie too and have the most beautiful memory of taking my children to see the play “Possum Magic”. They are now in their late 20′s and still remember the kangaroo costume jumping across the stage. They and I loved it. I now read Time for Bed to my 2 year old granddaughter. Its the book she asks for even when we have read 2 or 3 others.

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29 Mishti February 9, 2012 at 7:09 am

I agree with Kellie. 1o little fingers and 10 little toes is our favourite too. My 11 month old squeals in delight at the pictures of all the kids.

Big hug to you Kellie. Your story made me tear up. xoxo

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