Author of 'Tūī Street Tales' and 'Tūī Street Heroes'
"mysterious and a little bit dark, but always great fun and thought-provoking"
The New Zealand Herald
I have always loved writing. When I worked as a secondary school Drama and English teacher, I often wrote plays for my students to perform. I even wrote crazy skits that I performed in comedy shows. One year, I co-wrote a solo show that I performed in schools. I was always keen to write stories though.
In 2014, I did a Masters in Creative Writing at AUT. This was where 'Tūī Street Tales' began to take shape. I decided to enter 'Tūī Street Tales' into the 2016 Storylines' Tom Fitzgibbon Award competition. When I found out I'd won, my friend, Tui, also a teacher, was in our office. People passing by must have wondered why we were leaping around, screaming and laughing. Actually, 'Tūī Street Tales' is named after Tui, because she often chatted about story ideas with me, so I felt that she was sort of involved.
One thing I've realised is that, even though a writer writes alone, there are a number of people who are involved. Friends and family are always part of the process with their encouragement and support. I had a lecturer, James George, who gave me lots of suggestions. I have a writing group who help me too. Scholastic and Wildling Books helped me with editing and turning the stories into books. Craig Phillips created perfect illustrations for them. It's definitely a team effort, as well as an individual one.
When I write, I have my dog, Logan, lying by my feet. In winter, he lies on top of my feet and keeps them warm. He's much better than a pair of slippers! I live with my husband and son and daughter, who listen to my ideas for stories and give me feedback, which I mostly listen to!
I love visiting schools and doing animated, dramatic readings for students. I run writing workshops for teachers and students too.
Once upon a time some fairy tales came to Tūī Street and visited the people who lived there. There were some problems in the street: Jack's mother had secrets, the creek had dried up and Terri was being cyber-bullied, to name a few.
Following a fairy tale project at school, the children began to notice fairy tale themes to these problems. They had to explore the difference between fact and possibility as they sought answers. Much was at risk: a friend's safety, a morepork's life, the privacy of a Pacific princess. Added to this was the involvement of Aotearoa's landscape, birdlife and folklore.
Luckily, facing challenges led to unexpected achievements, such as coaching a wheelchair soccer team, pacifying a wild creature from Māori folklore and re-thinking stereotypes about giants. Everyone lived happily ever after. Well, as much as can be expected when you have homework and dishes to do.
What happens when you find yourself on a dangerous journey, and you’re expected to be the hero? Who can help when you’re faced with vicious creatures that are meant to be extinct or people who don’t care whether you live or die? The Tūī Street kids are writing Hero’s Journey stories at school, but soon find themselves involved in adventures more difficult than they could ever have imagined.
“The kids from Tūī Street make a welcome return as more awe-inspiring adventures await readers looking for a little - a lot - of magic.” – Dionne Christian, Canvas, NZ Herald.
Tūī Street Tales Teacher Notes - click HERE.
Tūī Street Heroes Teacher Notes - click HERE.
Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award - click HERE.
To visit the website of illustrator, Craig Phillips - click HERE.
The Sapling NZ-based children’s literature discussion board - click HERE.
Radio NZ review of Tūī Street Heroes - click HERE.
St. Martin's School, Christchurch March 2018, Canterbury Storylines Festival Tour
If you are a reader, I would love to hear from you.
If you are a school or organisation that would like me to visit, I would also love to hear from you.