Questions and Answers with Jacqueline Harvey
Where do you live?
I divide my time between Queenstown New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
From the age of nine I wanted to be a primary school teacher. There were times when I changed my mind of course, as kids tend to do. For a while I thought being a brain surgeon was a great idea, until I realised that the thought of cutting someone open with a scalpel made me queasy, then I wanted to read the television news and be a journalist, and there was always the dream of being a writer (I just didn’t have any clue how to make that happen). So I always came back to the idea of teaching. I loved working with children and despite some of my own high school teachers discouraging me from that career path (that’s really sad I know), ultimately school was where I wanted to be. Once I started working as a teacher, I wrote a lot more and began to develop my dramatic skills. I think some days I’m a frustrated actress too!
What made you want to be a writer?
I was always a daydreamer and loved to tell stories. When I became a teacher I often wrote stories and poems and plays for the children in my classes and my desire to write books grew from there.
What are your favourite Books?
Heidi by Johanna Spyri, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I also love Ian McEwan’s books and Tim Winton’s too.
What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Don’t talk about it, do it! In my twenties I spent a lot of time saying that I wanted to be a published writer. I didn’t really do anything about it though until I met the man who would become my husband and he said to me, ‘well you don’t want to die wondering’ and that was true. So I worked really hard with the goal of being published. It didn’t happen overnight and there have been lots of ups and downs along the way – but the fact that I now find my books in libraries and bookshops, being read by children in countries all over the world is a dream come true.
What do you love about writing for kids?
Children are so honest. I’ve had the most incredible privilege of being able to read my material to children for many years. I think in my early teaching days, some of the students would tell me what they thought I wanted to hear, but after a while – and much training about the benefits of honest feedback, they started to tell me what they really thought.
Where have you travelled to?
USA, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Bali, Japan, Fiji, Dubai, Qatar, New Zealand and Australia.
What five words best sum you up?
Determined, empathic, hardworking, positive and talkative.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda may have her very own stage show but Australian author Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda character has snaffled her first animated international television series
A modern-day Anne of Green Gables going by the multi-barrelled name of Alice–Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is set to become the heroine of a new animated children’s television series.Read more here
Aussie author’s Q’town chapter
Jacqueline Harvey and her hubby, Ian, shifted from Sydney to their new home here in 2019 and, apart from 15 months locked across the ditch due to Covid, have since made Queenstown their main address.Read more here
What inspired you to create such a determined and winning character?
Over my years as a teacher I have worked at some quite privileged schools with little girls who perhaps aren’t quite on the same economic stratosphere as Alice-Miranda but are very fortunate indeed. I think she’s the best characteristics of lots of children I’ve known.Read more here
Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To write entertaining and high quality books that children around the world genuinely enjoy reading.Read more here
THE BOOK GENDER DEBATE (BY JACQUELINE HARVEY)
This week I was so fortunate to host Jacqueline Harvey at school and, as on previous visits, she captivated students and staff alike with her enthusiasm, wit and wisdom.Read more here
A Life in Travel: Children’s author Jacqueline Harvey
Japan when I was 24, as a teacher accompanying a primary school cultural exchange. I fell in love with the country (and have been back numerous times, including for the Rugby World Cup last year).Read more here
Stan and Nine releasing Alice-Miranda Christmas movie from SLR Productions
Following on from the success of the first telemovie Alice-Miranda Friends Forever which premiered in 2019, Nine Entertainment has commissioned a second animated adventure.Read more here
Jacqueline is a passionate educator who shares her love of reading and writing with children and adults alike. A prodigious talker, she has always enjoyed telling stories and imagining the ‘what if’s’ of life. She is passionate about closing the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous achievement in terms of educational disadvantage and has over the years worked closely with several organisations including Yalari, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and several schools in Central Western NSW. In October 2013 she became an ambassador for Room To Read. In December 2014 Jacqueline was named as a Dymocks Children’s Charities Ambassador. In 2022, Jacqueline was named Patron of Somerset Storyfest for a three year term.