Fast Five with Jennifer Beck

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

I was lucky to grow up in a family who loved books and valued reading.  Although I wrote my first book when I was nine (it wasn’t very good – I’m sure many of you could do better today!) I didn’t really start writing until I had children of my own.  Sharing books with them was such a delight that I decided to make my own books.  I wrote and illustrated them on the kitchen table, and later mustered up the courage to send some to a publisher.  It took a few years of persistence before the first one was accepted and published.  Although I didn’t set out to write lots of books, once started I haven’t been able to stop. Well, not yet.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer? 

For me, it’s the pleasure of creativity.  I really enjoy the process of developing an idea, or combining several, into a story that is new and original.  Working with the illustrator and seeing the pages come to life with skilful artwork is also an enjoyable experience, followed by reading the finished book for the first time.

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I have so many it’s hard to choose.  I enjoy Joy Cowley’s warmth and surprise endings, and the delightful humour in John Parker’s Poppa McPhee Gets the Eggs.  However my favourite is probably Robyn Belton’s Herbert : The Brave Seadog because it is a story with such heart and I know something of the special background to the book.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

I admire the inventiveness, adaptability and creativity of New Zealanders, which I feel is a legacy of our pioneering past.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

I must confess I’ve never been very good at finding my way around libraries, so what I love most is the generous response from librarians when asked “Please, can you help me…”

Jennifer Beck is the author of more than 45 children’s books.  She has worked with many different illustrators, including Robyn Belton and Lindy Fisher.  Her books have also won many awards, including the Elsie Locke Award and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award. Jennifer’s latest book is Remember That November, illustrated by Lindy Fisher.


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