Posted in authors, interviews, poetry

Lorraine Marwood and Footprints on the Moon

Lorraine Marwood

Today we’re pleased to have Lorraine Marwood visiting Alphabet Soup. Lorraine is an award-winning poet, novelist and verse novelist. She likes to write about the goldfields, country life, a tiny moment in time, families, animals, mystery, a longing for something, fantasy … and more! Lorraine’s latest

book is Footprints on the Moon.

From the publisher:

It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.

Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and starts getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.

Can she find her own way in this brave new world?

We’re pleased to have Lorraine visiting today to talk all about the book!

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Footprints on the Moon is historical fiction, set at the time of the moon landing and the Vietnam War. How did you go about your research?
I read newspapers, articles, personal stories, and delved into my own childhood memories of that time. This was in contrast with the exciting, exuberant conquering of man on the moon – how could there be such polarizing events operating at once?

I visited the Australian War Memorial and one impression that stayed was the fierce unearthly sound of the helicopters (choppers) that were an integral part of the Vietnam War. I came away with much material to read and ponder. I had newspaper articles of Vietnam War experiences, I researched posters of protest movements, found out numbers of conscripts sent to Vietnam etc.

Similarly I researched the moon mission and had many articles and booklets to read from many years collecting. I knew I wanted to write about this era but when it came to writing the book I needed to delve more deeply and think about the questions the teachers in the book might ask students about the Vietnam War. I also knew the prevalent attitudes of political and establishment at that time, as well as communism, had to be shown too. I also spoke with Vietnam veterans and families affected by the conflict.

This is your fourth verse novel. Can you tell us a bit about the editing process for a verse novel?
A very interesting question as I feel this verse novel is different in format from my other verse novels – each format seemed to reflect the subject matter and as this was set in a high school, it was written for a slightly older audience than two of my other verse novels.

Each poem or section has its own title to lead us into the narrative. I think the editing is the same for other novels, to get facts right, to get the main character to shine in her own story, to see growth in the character from start to finish, to find a climax of narrative, a progression, a flow, to take out unnecessary words and especially for the verse novel, to make sure those spontaneous lines of poetry flow and sparkle.

Did you watch the moon landing in 1969? Were you aware of the Vietnam War?
Yes indeed – just as the book says – in the cookery room of my secondary school, amazing, amazing and then looking up at the moon at night and noting that it had been conquered and was not the same mysterious orb that had always been there.

Yes the Vietnam War impacted family around me, male acquaintances anxiously waited for their birthdate to come up in the ballot. Political opinion was being rocked, the establishment was called into question and protests, especially the Melbourne ones called young protestors into action, to change history as it were.

Do you have a tip for young writers who’d like to write historical fiction?
Yes, delve into that era, immerse yourself in the nitty gritty of daily life, food, clothes, world events because this is where your story will flourish. Ask questions of anyone who might have experienced that era (contemporary era) look at old newspapers online, examine as many resources as you can, to see an entry point that resonates with you, then write the story. Once that is down you can check the facts later.

Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project?
Another historical novel – but not a verse novel, a longer one with mystery in it. I have researched the era it focuses on for years and years and written it on and off for years also and now have stripped it back and begun again. I am also tackling plot which is hard for me as I am a pantser but this will be a bigger novel …

Then of course I have enough material for another poetry collection and I’ve always wanted a picture book … lots of material there to work on!

Footprints on the Moon is out now! Look for it at your favourite bookshop or local library. 


Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Download teachers’ notes from the publisher’s website

Do you live in Victoria? Go to the book launch celebration at the Bendigo library! 11 am, Saturday 27 February 2021. It’s free but you do need to book tickets online. 

Read our earlier interviews with Lorraine Marwood –

Posted in authors, poetry

Lorraine Marwood: writing a verse novel

Today we’re super excited to have Lorraine Marwood visiting Alphabet Soup to talk about writing verse novels. Lorraine is an award winning Australian writer of novels, verse novels and poetry for children.

Lorraine’s latest book, Leave Taking, is about a boy and his family who are leaving their farm forever after the death of Toby’s younger sister.

Leave taking by Lorraine Marwood. Book cover.

What bought you to write Leave Taking as a verse novel?

That’s an interesting question. Often I’m asked if I write ‘normal’ stories, meaning all prose. The answer is yes I do — not everything I write is poetry or verse novels, except when the subject matter calls for a stronger emotional framework, then I use poetry. Sometimes it’s my natural voice; sometimes I sketch a character out in prose poetry much like an artist might sketch a character. Because Leave Taking has an emotional tug of saying goodbye to both a beloved place and a beloved family member, my natural instinct was to treat the story in a special prose poetry way.

For me this technique is quick and it also provides different layers for the reader to climb on and it allows us to cry or laugh at the time the reader feels a heartstrings pull.

A verse novel way of writing is like wearing a piece of comfortable clothing; I can confidently build an atmosphere and that is a huge gateway for me to enter the story. I have to feel the right atmosphere to plunge in.

What do you find most challenging about writing verse novels?

This way of writing does have pitfalls. For me it’s probably not to strike out in prose too much when it’s a blend of poetry and prose together.  And to keep that consistency of words to a line and to write more rather than less, which I tend to do as a poet. I try to paint a bare sensory picture for the reader to experience and that allows them to come to the story with their own ideas and reactions.

Do you have a tip for young writers who’d like to have a go at writing a verse novel?

  • Start out with a tale you know well and cut it down and put your own slant on it.
  • Try for short sentences and short phrases.
  • Try to give lots of senses and details.

Here’s a start of a well-known tale — continue on! Using first person voice is a good choice for a verse novel.


I am waiting, watching.
My mother said, ‘Go and hunt
for bargains in the market.’

There are shouts of stall holders,
banners flapping in the breeze.
‘Pies, fresh bananas, best in town!’
‘Silk, wool, rugs, soft and hardwearing!’

And amongst all the bleats of sheep,
or goats, I hear a musical voice;
‘Lamps, I buy old lamps, I pay good money!’
Now you continue on — try for 7 or 8 words a line.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?

I have written a ‘normal’ big book, a fantasy, a genre I love. I have written another verse novel, which is under contract with University of Queensland Press, and always I write poetry and have some school writing workshops coming up.

Thanks for asking me these insightful questions.  And happy verse novel writing everyone — have a go!

Interview answers © Lorraine Marwood 2019.

Leave Taking has been shortlisted for the 2019 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award (Younger Readers category), AND shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

You can read earlier interviews with Lorraine Marwood here.

Posted in authors, poetry

Pass the book baton: Lorraine Marwood


It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning writer of novels, verse novels and poetry. You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Kylie Howarth asked:
Which poem or book you have written means the most to you?

Lorraine Marwood answers:

Ah, a perennial question that is often asked and at different stages or times in my writing journey there would be different answers.

Of course my first book picked up way back in 1999 part of the superdooper series ‘Rainbow Toes’ was a very exciting experience — even when the editor said I had to work on my ending before it was accepted. I was determined and still love this book today.

Or I could chose my first verse novel with Walker books Ratwhiskers and Me which allowed me to explore my love of history and my love of poetry in a fast paced narrative.

Then again I could choose my second verse novel Star Jumps, which was written in tears and shows life on a real live dairy farm as drought hits. This novel won the inaugural children’s section of the Prime Minister’s literary awards. So I love it because it celebrates my children’s growing up years and because it validated me as an author.

Or it could be my latest manuscript written last year at a May Gibbs literary fellowship in Brisbane. This one is close because it touches on grief — again another verse novel.

And poetry? I love writing poems mainly for children but continue to write literary poetry and be published in this genre too.

My latest collection Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry was a challenge to write, to research different celebrations (because I believe poetry should reflect facts as well as emotion) and to construct the poems in different ways.

A favourite poem from this collection was one on Christmas. My editor didn’t quite like the poem I’d already written and said to write a new one. I did, about a boy chosen to be the donkey in the nativity play, although he had no idea of what was going on — his friend Tiff kept explaining all the way through until he surprises himself and the reader right at the end. I love it when the right tone comes through for me and then the poem flows. Funny how my writing reflects my life because when I’d written that poem (the editor loved it by the way) my grandson was selected to be the donkey in his preschool play!

As my life continues on with many unexpected twists and new horizons, I love that my writing can help me adjust to new situations, to find meaning and to share this with my readers.

Poetry has the power to express what is on the inside and this is sometimes hidden to the poet too. So each new direction I take produces work which reflects that and looking back each poem or story contains the essence of that experience. So there are no favourites in my writing, just deep gratitude that writing is what I must do no matter what.

For more info about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, visit or check out her blog

All the Lost ThingsAnd now Lorraine Marwood passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Kelly Canby. Kelly is an author-illustrator living in Perth, WA.

Lorraine asks:
“I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?  Thanks.”
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!








Posted in poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Chat with a poet: Lorraine Marwood

We’re very pleased to have Lorraine Marwood visiting us at Alphabet Soup today. Lorraine writes verse novels and poetry collections for children and she has a new poetry collection coming out in 2015. Here’s the cover in all its glory!

Celebrating Australia

Your earlier poetry collections have themes (‘notes’ and ‘animals’). Does your upcoming collection have a theme?

Yes my new book does have a theme — ‘Celebrations!’ And the title reflects this. Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry.

When you were writing poems for this collection , did you set out to write to a particular theme? Or did a theme emerge?

Yes the theme began the collection and I began to research those celebrations that I had little first hand knowledge about — the journey was fascinating.

How long did it take you to finish this book?

About 18 months, some poems had to be re-written completely to suit the overall nature of the collection.

How do you choose which poems to include (and which poems to leave out) for a collection?

Ah, a good question. I wrote in batches — for example I researched ideas and words for the Valentine’s day poem and after the initial draft my editor suggested it needed to be more grounded in what kids might do — this is where a refrain came in to make the poem flow:  ‘cutie pie, cutie pie, my high five, be mine forever.’ It was hard trying to make something like Bastille day or United Nations day poetic. My editor suggested significant milestone celebrations in the Australian calendar and I chose some myself like ‘International dot day’ and ‘Talk like a pirate day.’

I tried to make a variety of formats for the poems, including some with refrains, even one that rhymes, some humourous, some grounded in image and emotion.

Do you have a tip for young writers who want to try writing in free verse?

I think a good way to begin is to think of using images. Here’s an example. Let’s liken the sky to:

a crinkle of aluminum foil or a smudge of vanilla yoghurt.

It can be set out like this:

the sky is like a crinkle of aluminum foil

Have a go! Look at the sky right now and think of an object or a colour in your fridge or kitchen and liken the sky to that — it will make the sky more visual, more sensory, more striking for the reader and that’s what we want, to be different and move away from cliché. Sometimes rhyming leads us into cliché.

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood, reading Guinea Pig Town to some of her grandchildren.

Is there anything else you can tell us about Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry?

I loved the hard work put into my collection by my editor and the final finishing touches by graphic designer Amy Daoud. For me each poem was a mini story in itself — with its own research, own format, own rhythm and own beginning and end. I learnt so much about other culture’s celebrations and embraced the whole multi-cultural feel of Australia right now.

I am planning for a launch with the Bendigo, Goldfields library in February, can’t wait!

To find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her poetry and books, visit her website. And check out our other interviews with Lorraine here and here.

Interview with Lorraine Marwood © November 2014 Lorraine Marwood & Rebecca Newman


Posted in poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet – Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood

Today we welcome Lorraine Marwood to the blog — Lorraine writes verse novels and poetry and you would have read several of her poems in Alphabet Soup!

note on the door (cover)

Stary Jumps (cover)

When did you first start writing poetry?

I began as a teenager, so probably 15 years old, but before that I was writing down ideas and little stories for many years.

What sort of poetry do you like writing best of all?

Poetry that doesn’t rhyme but shows in different ways a moment in time or an emotion, and still has all the strong features of poetry, like rhythm, strongest words, images, sensory details, emotion.

What sort of poetry do you like reading?

Contemporary poetry written by Australians; poems in The School Magazine, NSW; anthologies like 100 Australian poets, so I read many poets in the one book. Also poetry by young writers and I enjoy reading the results of the Dorothea Mackellar poetry competition.

Where can we read your poetry?

I have had six collections of poems published — the most recent one is Guinea Pig town and other animal poems with Walker Books Australia. I’ve had lots of poems published in magazines, here in Australia, UK, USA and Canada. And I always love to be published in The School Magazine and of course Alphabet Soup — well, I wish that was still going.

guinea pig town

Here’s one of the poems from Guinea Pig town and other animal poems:

A peek inside Guinea Pig Town and other animal poems

[click on the image to enlarge it]

How often do you write?

I’d like to say everyday — well I do write but some days its emails, administration or reworking a piece, then other days it’s intense writing, but always I’m thinking about my poems, an idea, a story, what happens next …

Do you prefer to write with a pen and paper or straight onto the computer?

That’s a good question. I like to write poetry with a pen in one of my current notebooks. I often write when traveling or out for the day. I can jot down ideas I see or an idea that strikes. Poetry to me needs this special touch, but for stories I type right onto my laptop.

What’s your number one tip for budding poets?

Keep a notebook you can take with you.  Jot down anything that catches your eye. Train yourself to be observant, because the strongest writing uses those details that others skim over.

Lorraine’s Poetry Prescription

IF YOU’RE HAVING A RUSHING, BUSTLING DAY — read the following poem:

‘Wilderness’ by Carl Sandburg.

To find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, check out her website and read an earlier post featuring Lorraine.

Interview with Lorraine Marwood © 2013 Lorraine Marwood and Rebecca Newman


Posted in poetry

Poetry Appraisal with Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood
Lorraine Marwood

Today we are so pleased to have Lorraine Marwood here to tell us a bit about her poetry writing, and the prize she is donating for the winner in the Most Outstanding Poem category of the Alphabet Soup Creativity Award. (We’ll be announcing the winner on Friday, so stay tuned!)

Over to you, Lorraine!
I have written many, many poems and had them published in places like The School Magazine in New South Wales (and Alphabet Soup of course) and USA magazine Cricket.  I love the way a poem can become a little image of a snapshot of  a moment in a day.
I have two collections of poems published with Walker Books:  A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems and Note on the Door and Other Poems About Family Life.  I have just completed a third collection of poems with Walker—Guinea Pig Town and Other Poems About Animals and this will come out in 2013.
note on the door (cover)
Stary Jumps (cover)

I also like to write verse novels.  Star Jumps won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (children’s category) in 2010, and Ratwhiskers and Me is set on the Victorian goldfields.  Imagining what it would have been like to live in times gone by is another way of writing that I enjoy.  I love researching and reading all about those times too.  I never know when an idea will suddenly take hold and grow into a poem or a book.
Look out for my Aussie Nibbles titles too—The Girl Who Turned into Treacle and Chantelle’s Cloak.
I have a website all about my books, and a blog where I often write about projects and inspiration and travels.
Chantelle's Cloak (cover)
 The Girl Who Turned Into Treacle
Walker Books also has notes on my books and each time I write a poetry technique so it’s often a good idea to look here also.
My poetry appraisal/mentoring will contain feedback on what makes a poem stand out from the crowd, how to continue writing, where ideas for poems come from, tools that poets use, how to make a few words sparkle and dance, and suggestions for reading poetry, too.
The winner will email me their poem of up to 15 lines (non rhyming and double spaced) for comment.
I will also provide a copy of one of my poetry collections A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems, and I’ll include some suggestions on how to pattern a poem from some of mine in the book.
A Ute Picnic (cover)
Children who have had poetry published in the Write On! section of a 2012 issue of Alphabet Soup are in the running for this fantastic prize. These children will be entered automatically. We will announce the winner on Friday and will contact the winner directly.
If you’d like to submit your story or poem for possible publication in a 2013 issue of the magazine, read the submission guidelines on our website.
Posted in authors, poetry

Meet the Author: Lorraine Marwood

Lorraine Marwood, author and poet
Lorraine Marwood


In every issue of Alphabet Soup magazine we print an interview with an author or illustrator. We can’t fit all their answers into an issue of the magazine, so we publish the full interviews on the blog—we wouldn’t want you to miss out!

For issue 14 we talked to Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is a poet, and the author of many books including Star Jumps, and Note on the Door, and A Ute Picnic.


What made you become a writer/poet?

I don’t think that anything ‘made’ me become a writer. It was a heartfelt feeling when I was about 8 years old—that was all I secretly ever wanted to do.  And I never ever lost that longing. Or that passion for writing and reading.

Was it easy to get your first poem published? (Your first book/book of poems?)

No not at all.  It wasn’t till I was about 16 years old that my first poem was published and that was after much writing and submitting—but what a thrill it was.

My first book of poems came after I’d had my children and was still farming. And it only came after I’d notched up publishing credits in literary magazines—a bit like an apprenticeship in poetry.

note on the door (cover)A Ute Picnic (cover)

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?

From everything happening around me—little incidents, nature, my family, newspapers, what I read and of course big doses of thinking and jotting down.

Did you read poetry when you were growing up?

My teacher read us classic poetry like Banjo Paterson, Wordsworth and we had a class reader for the year and we always read the poems in that (but as a teenager I discovered T.S. Eliot and a Russian poet  called Yevtushenko). But we mainly read rhyming poetry which was also mainly English poets.

Did you have a favourite poet/poem/book of poetry when you were growing up?

T. S Eliot ‘The journey of the Magi,’ and also Australian Bruce Dawe.

Is your poetry influenced by particular poets/writers? 

Yes, I think I’m influenced by those poets I really admire—like ee cummings, I love the freedom and rhythm of his work; Bruce Dawe’s Vietnam poem—‘They’re bringing them home’; T.S Eliot; Sue Cowling; ‘FiveBells’ by Australian poet Kenneth Slessor; Judith Wright; and now I read lots of children’s poets. I think I’m influenced by those poets who tell a story, a narrative, that surprise and use their poetic craft really well.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? 

I love to make things—sew, bead, garden, pot up cuttings, read,  make cards, op shop—they are creative things to do (well, for me!) think, wonder, pray.

Do you mostly write on paper or on a computer? 

Now that’s an interesting question because for poetry I like to write in one of my notebooks, but for stories I write on  my laptop.

Stary Jumps (cover)Is there a difference in the way you approach writing a poem and writing a verse novel?

Yes, a poem is a little unit on its own with beginning, middle and end. But a verse novel is many components that lead on and borrow from story telling—it’s a more ‘prosy’ way of writing, where a poem is tiny and delicious like a ripe strawberry.

Are you working on a collection of poems or a book at the moment?

I am working on another collection of poems—so for that, I need to aim for about 100 new poems. At the moment I’m thinking of section headings or groupings for the poems, a bit like chapters in a book. This collection will be entirely  new. And as I write, I’ve already finished another verse novel—again entirely different from my other verse novels in content and for a slightly older age group—but awaiting the green light from my publisher.
Do you have any advice for young poets? 

Yes, write whenever  you can. Start with lists of what is around you—lines of three or four words, get all the details down and use those wonderful senses too.  Keep these jottings in a note book, put the date on them and keep them. Look back over them and see if any ideas for a fuller poem can be found.

No lines of writing are ever wasted, they lead you on a journey to becoming a writer/poet.  It’s such a surprise to see what comes from your pen or keyboard. And a such a pleasure to read again after a few weeks or months have gone by …

Find out more about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry—visit her website, or check out a bookstore or library near you!

Posted in Events

Book Launch of Chantelle’s Cloak by Lorraine Marwood (VIC)

Chantelle's Cloak (cover)If you live in Bendigo (Victoria), come along to the launch of Chantelle’s Cloak, the new Aussie Nibble by Lorraine Marwood (ill. Jocelyn Bell)

This family event will feature a reading from Narelle Stone, live harp music, sales and signings, and cup-cakes.

Guests are invited to wear a cape and participate in a Magical Cape Parade to be in the running to win great prizes.

Where: Bendigo Library, 259 Hargreaves St, Bendigo VIC

When: Wednesday September 28, 2011 6pm to 7pm

Ages: All ages!

RSVP: Tammy Higgs (03) 54492771 or

READ AN EXTRACT of the book on the publisher’s website.

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Footprints on the Moon


Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood, UQP, ISBN 9780702262838

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Sharnie Burley is in her early teens and is struggling with the problems of life. The year is 1969, around the time of the first moon landing and the Vietnam war. Sharnie’s sister Cas meets a soldier who has returned from the Vietnam war, after being conscripted. Cas becomes an anti-war protester, which causes conflict within the family …

The story is told through the eyes of Sharnie, as she starts to deal with the difficulties of adolescence. She is beginning her high school journey and finding it difficult to make new friends. It is a story about family relationships and growing up in challenging times.

This captivating and engaging story is easy to read and has an interesting storyline. I think that this book would suit children aged around 10-13 and I would definitely recommend it!

Read our interview with the author of Footprints on the Moon.

Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Charlotte’s first review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in authors, interviews, poetry

Meet the author: Sally Murphy


Sally Murphy is an author, poet, speaker and educator based in the South West of Western Australia. Sally has published more than 40 books, and her latest book is a verse novel for upper primary readers: Worse Things, with illustrations by Sarah Davis.

From the publisher:

After a devastating football injury, Blake struggles to cope with life on the sideline. Jolene, a gifted but conflicted hockey player, wants nothing more than for her dad to come home. And soccer-loving refugee, Amed, wants to belong. On the surface, it seems they have nothing in common. Except sport …

Worse Things by Sally Murphy with illustrations by Sarah Davis

Worse Things is your fourth verse novel. Your first verse novel was published in 2009. Has the way you go about writing your verse novels changed since then?
I think so. When I wrote the first one, Pearl Verses the World, I didn’t really plan – a character started speaking to me and I started writing. Pearl’s voice came in verse, and the plot emerged as I wrote. When I wrote Toppling and Roses are Blue the process was similar, though Roses are Blue took longer to get right.  When I wrote Worse Things I really wanted to do something different. I still loved verse novels but I wanted to see if I could write in multiple voices and with slightly older characters. This dictated that I needed to write more self-contained poems. I also played around more with poetic form – so there are, for example,  little definition poems scattered throughout which define key words from the  story or the themes being explored.

Worse Things includes characters who play various sports (hockey, soccer & AFL). Do you play these sports yourself?
I loved hockey and played in primary and high school and a couple of seasons as an adult. I actually wish I had kept playing for longer. I got busy as a mother and now that I have more time I am probably not fit enough. I loved soccer as a sport at school, but never played it away from school – when I was growing up there was no soccer for girls where I lived. The other sport in the novel is AFL (football) and again I didn’t have the opportunity to play, but my kids did, and so I spent a lot of time at junior matches, as well as being a mad keen Fremantle Dockers fan.

You write picture books, poetry, chapter books, and verse novels. How do you know the sort of book you’ll start writing when you have a creative idea?
Mostly the story or character presents itself and I just kind of know what is right for that story. It’s about how the story feels, although sometimes I also push myself to try a particular form, or I’m asked to. My two historical novels – 1915 and Bushfire, were both written because the publisher asked for them, and so that dictated that they would be novel-length.

Do you have a tip for young writers who would like to write a verse novel?
Read lots of verse novels to get a feel for how they work. As well as mine, there are some other excellent Australian verse novelists whose work you will love: Steven Herrick, Lorraine Marwood and Kat Apel, for starters. The other thing to do is to start by writing single free verse poems, to practice things like poetic technique, line length and portraying emotion or themes in poetic form.

Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project?
I usually have a few things on the go, and right now is no exception. I have two junior novels which need redrafting – one is set in Vietnam, and I started it when I went there for a residency. I am also doing some research for a historical idea I am interested in. And there is a voice talking to me at the moment and telling me that her story needs telling. I have a feeling she may win.

Worse Things is out now in bookstores and libraries.


Worse Things by Sally Murphy with illustrations by Sarah Davis

Watch Sally Murphy read the first chapter of Worse Things (YouTube)

Take a sneak peek at some Definition Poems from the book

Click here to download Teachers’ Notes

Visit Sally Murphy’s website for more about her and her books