10 Quirky Questions with author/illustrator Caroline Magerl
1. What’s your hidden talent?
I can fly! At the age of seven, I realised my hidden talent. After taping on a set of cardboard wings, I leapt from a swing just as it reached the highest point of its arc … I was no fool. There was a moment, just before the wings came off, where I was flying. Sticky tape is such treacherous stuff.
2. Who is your favourite literary villain and why?
Count Olaf. The reason I enjoyed this particular slippery villain was the effect his chameleon quality had on the Baudelaire children. They constantly had to adapt, and look down the road to what might happen next. We don’t usually have just one nemesis in life do we? There is always another Count Olaf out there!
3. You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? (alive or dead)
How many times have you heard variations of, ‘I adored everything he/she wrote, but when I finally met them, they hardly said two words!’ Note the past tense of adored and wrote. I am not falling into that trap. My invitations would be sent with full knowledge that the following would be cranky at having to show up. Mervyn Peake, Ursula Le Guin, Isak Dinesan, Russell Hoban and Edward Gorey.
4. Which literary invention do you wish was real?
When thinking of literary inventions, I immediately think of magical transport. I get excited about the cupboard which is the portal to Narnia, or the door that appears to The Room of Requirement. But to answer, I am really quite impressed with Phillip Pullman’s subtle knife. An object, wielded with skill, that opens a way into other worlds … something you can keep in your pocket. The description of how the knife functioned, and the way it is used, appealed to me a lot.
5. What are five words that describe your writing process?
Exploratory, visual, idiosyncratic, patient and impatient.
6. Which are the five words you would like to be remembered by as a writer?
This is a wish list, really: prolific, aviatrix, centenarian, perennial and fromagère.
7. Picture your favourite writing space. What are five objects you would find there?
Much as I am picturing a thundering sea cave with a sofa in it, I think that would not work for me as a place to write. I need comfort and quietness also. So my writing space would be much as I have it now, a room with familiar things: lamp, rug, books, plants. The fifth item would be a dog or cat — position currently available, apply within.
8. Grab the nearest book, open it to page 22 and look for the second word in the first sentence. Now, write a line that starts with that word. (Please include the name of the book!)
The book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. On page 22, the second word in the first sentence is ‘there’.
There were ‘Doings at Griboedov’s’ is a line that made me smile, before ever I knew what the Doings were.
9. If you could ask one author one question, what would the question be and who would you ask?
Took me a while to get this answer, but I am now good with it. I would go back in time to when William Blake was a boy. My question would be, ‘may I walk with you to Peckham Rye’.
10. Which would you rather do: ‘Never write another story or never read another book’?
Caroline Magerl was born near Frankfurt in Germany and came to Australia when she was two. She lived on the yacht her family built until she was 14. In 2001, Caroline won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Crichton Award for new talent in children’s book illustration for her picture book Grandma’s Shoes (written by Libby Hathorn). Since then she has been awarded a May Gibbs Fellowship and received an ASA children’s picture book grant to work on her book Hasel and Rose. Nowadays, she is a full-time artist, illustrator and printmaker. Maya and Cat was Caroline’s first book with Walker.