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
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.