Name: Keith Tonkin
Date of birth: 3 October 1952
Place of birth: Christchurch
Now living in: Dunedin
- What is your favourite food?
- Anything that comes out of a hangi that I have put down (I am mostly pakeha but I love doing this).
- Do you have a nickname and if so what is it?
- Used to be Tonk when I lived in Redcliffs and Sumner as a kid and teenager.
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
- While on school patrol at Redcliffs School. I needed to go to the toilet but couldn’t; you can guess the rest.
- How do you relax?
- Play my guitar and sing (not very well yet). Swim in the surf in summer. Go to folk music festivals and camp. Walk somewhere beautiful.
- Who inspired you when you were little?
- Lots of people living and dead: Captain James Cook, Edmund Hillary, my parents, Bob Dylan, anyone who was brave and adventurous and thought-provoking.
- What were you like at school?
- I thought I was more intelligent than I was. Not good at sport but I didn’t care about that. I was interested in many things.
- What was your favourite/most hated subject at school?
- Favourite: History, Geography.
Most hated: Chemistry and Maths (at high school)
- What was the book you most loved as a child?
- Dr Seuss’ McElligot’s Pool.
- Which person from the past would you most like to meet?
- Captain James Cook.
- Who is your favourite author/children’s author?
- Not sure now; it certainly was Arthur C. Clarke some years ago.
Children’s author Paul Jennings.
- Why did you want to be a writer?
- Always thought I could but it took the invention of the personal computer to get me started (I’m a very messy left-handed writer). I thought kids needed to know more about our history which I love.
- Do you have a special place where you write your books?
- In my little office with a view over the valley I live in. Just bought a laptop though, so I hope to take it to any nice place I want to write.
- What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?
- Freedom to write whenever you want: best.
A bit lonely for a very social person like me: worst.
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?
- Well, I am also a part-time teacher so I’d still be that. But I also found I like organising things (I run a music festival) so I’d like to do that professionally. I’d like to be a musician also but I’ve started too late in life.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
- Be interested in a wide variety of things. Read a lot, value everyone you know, talk a lot and listen to others. Imagine yourself in other’s shoes, never judge other people and make friends among a wide variety of people.
This interview is from 2002.