1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I used to be a chronic sleepwalker. I once packed up my entire bedroom, including the pictures on the walls and the curtains. Fortunately I grew out of it!
2. What is your nickname?
I have a few! My school friends and sports friends call me Froggy because my maiden name was Froggatt. My brother calls me Spud, because he’s strange. And my husband calls me Twinkle.
3. What is your greatest fear?
Never having another great picture book idea again.
4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Fun, engaging, sneakily informative, with lots of rhyme and rhythm.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Exciting, educating, emotive, engaging, and effervescent (the last one is one my agent used to describe me – I’ve stolen it).
6. What book character would you be, and why?
Miss Petitfour. She’s this wonderful woman who flies around with the wind caught in her tablecloth and her 16 cats hanging from her coat tails. She heads off on beautiful little adventures and always comes back to a delicious cream tea. It’s a simple but whimsical life.
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
1982. I would love to be five again and have just started school. I’d be playing with the water wheel in the water play area or having three-legged races in the playground. I think five is such a magical age; the whole world is starting to open up and every day is an adventure.
8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Why aren’t you a professional horse rider? I thought that was our plan?
9. Who is your greatest influence?
Wow this is really hard to narrow down. I take influence from so many different aspects of life. Some of my closest friends are such wonderful parents. My husband is so smart and dedicated. And then there is the world of books. I love the sheer talent and capacity of Jacqueline Harvey, the picture book humour of Nick Bland, the brilliant rhythm and rhyme of Julia Donaldson. I could go on!
10. What/who made you start writing?
It was an epiphany. A sudden realisation of what it was that I wanted to do. Nothing has ever felt quite so right. At that moment, I happened to be reading Incy Wincy Spider
, by Keith Chapman and Jack Tickle.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
Bedtime! I love this word twice. Once when I get to say it to the kids and once when it’s mine and I get to crawl under my doona at the end of a long day.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Bill Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid. If I had to read one book forever it would need to be one that made me laugh.
Shelly Unwin grew up in a tiny English village where she was surrounded by animals, the occasional pixie fairy and her best friend Cracker, a feisty palomino pony. She was the middle child of three, but also had 11 foster siblings (not all at the same time). Shelly studied teaching and biology at university in Birmingham and moved to Australia in 2002, where she has since married an Aussie with two beautiful kids and added another two to the brood. She plays with words all week long and loves that she can call it ‘work’. For more information, see shellyunwin.com.