Name: Jean Bennett
Date of birth: 10 January 1945
Place of birth: Invercargill
Now living in: Tauranga
- What is your favourite food?
- Anything that someone else cooks always tastes good, and I especially like juicy, raw Bluff oysters straight from the shell.
- Do you have a nickname and if so what is it?
- My birth name is Jean McDonald and my classmates were forever singing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’. I usually joined in because I liked making the animal noises.
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
- There’s been so many! One that stands out was taking part in a gymnastics display in front of a crowd of people when I was about eight years old. I got my feet stuck leaping over the wooden horse and froze on the top. The coach had to help me down.
- How do you relax?
- I love to read and read and read and…
- Who inspired you when you were little?
- A teacher in the junior school who said
Everyone has a special talent. Find it and use it.After years of searching I thought I’d missed out until I discovered the joy of writing. I’d love to thank her.
- What were you like at school?
- A freckle-faced tomboy with skinny plaits who asked too many questions and often stumbled into trouble.
- What was your favourite/most hated subject at school?
- I loved English. I was hopeless at Home Economics, got expelled from cooking, and the pyjamas that took me all year to sew fell apart the first time I wore them.
- What was the book you most loved as a child?
- My parents gave me Pookie by Ivy Wallace. It’s a story about a rabbit with wings who was teased for being different. He ran away to ‘ceek mi fourchune’. I still have the book!
- Which person from the past would you most like to meet?
- The mummy from the coffin at Invercargill museum that I often visited as a child. I always wanted to know who the person was in real life.
- Who is your favourite author/children’s author?
- I enjoy reading New Zealand writers’ work. In particular, books by Patricia Grace and Sherryl Jordan.
- Why did you want to be a writer?
- I love anything to do with words! Telling stories and reading were a huge part of my family life – I loved the magic of stories and wanted to share the pleasure with others.
- Do you have a special place where you write your books?
- Now that my children have left home, I have the luxury of a writing room. Before that, it was anywhere I could find peace and quiet.
- What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?
- The best thing for me is when an idea comes bubbling to the surface, demanding to be written. The worst part is the anxiety of sending a story off to an editor and hoping she’ll like it.
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?
- I’m also a librarian, which I enjoy. But I’d really like to be an archaeologist – museums, history, and old things fascinate me.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
- Read lots of books. Be passionate and enjoy what you’re writing about, then it will show in your work. Never give up!
This interview is from 2002.