Kate Gordon grew up in a very booky house, in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. Now she’s the author of picture books, children’s novels, and novels for teenagers. We’re thrilled to have her visiting to chat to us about her writing and the setting of her new children’s novel The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn.
From the publisher:
Lonely orphan Wonder Quinn lives in the attic of Direleafe Hall with only a gloomy crow for company.
But when a spirited new student, Mabel Clattersham, befriends her in class, Wonder’s dreams seem to be coming true. As the girls grow closer, Wonder discovers her friend has a list of strange wishes: Throw a pie, leap into the sky, break someone’s heart…
What is Mabel’s big secret? Can Wonder protect her heart from being broken all over again?
The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn is an enchanting tale celebrating friendship, bravery and the importance of staying true to yourself.
On with the questions!
Direleafe Hall is a spooky, gothic setting for the school in The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn. Is it inspired by a real-world place?
It absolutely is inspired by a real place! The Midlands of Tasmania is a beautifully gothic landscape, just begging to be turned into (gently) dark and atmospheric stories. I travel along that stretch of road fairly frequently and my favourite thing to do on the trip is stare out the window at the historic buildings – some intact and some broken down by time – on the route. My favourite ones are the broken down ones and my favourite of all is an arched doorway that stands alone in a paddock, the rest of its structure vanished as if into the air. I finally researched the building and found it was a school, once. Of course, I had to set a story there!
How do you like to write: pen and paper, or typing straight into the computer?
A bit of both! I write notes on paper but I type the prose directly on the computer. I make too many mistakes to write my stories longhand. I’d need shares in Tipp-Ex.
How long did it take you to write The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn (from the first idea for the book, to publication)?
I looked up the first emails talking to my husband about my idea for this story. It was around six years ago! And I wrote a very rough first draft in 2015. The story came quickly but the process after that was slow. I’m not complaining at all – I feel like this was a book that needed time to breathe and to grow and the team at UQP had the wisdom to allow that. Sometimes things happen quickly and slowly at the same time and I think the best stories have a bit of both.
Do you have a writing tip for young writers?
I’m going to be that thousandth person telling you to read a lot – but it is so important. Apart from that … just love it. Pour all your love and all your heart and all your enthusiasm on to the page and your writing will sing with it. Write as if the world is ending. Write as if it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do. Write because you need to, and you love it. The reader will be able to see it and they will love the words you make as much as you do.
Can you tell us something about your next writing project?
Absolutely! At the moment I’m still deep in Direleafe territory, working on books two and three (and a sneaky extra story about a girl who runs away to the circus). I’m not ready to leave the world of Hollowbeak just yet!
The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookshop or library, or order it from the publisher.