Book People: Ursula Dubosarsky

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Ursula Dubosarsky is one of the finest writers in the country. Her books are sophisticated yet still accessible and each one is utterly unique; she seems to flit between genres effortlessly and each new book is a delightful surprise. Yes I am fangirling. You would to if you’d read as many of her books as I have! I can’t be sure, but I think I first discovered her writing with ‘Game of the Goose’, in which Fred, Rowley and Rabbit, find a game in an op shop and are led into a magical world. From there, I’ve been hooked on Dubosarsky’s writing and have marvelled at her ability to go from fiction to non-fiction to picture books and back again…

Thank you so very much for joining here on Children’s Books Daily Ursula.

Author Ursula Dubosarsky

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1. Tell us about your latest book

It’s called ‘Ask Hercules Quick’ and is illustrated by Andrew Joyner, who has illustrated lots of my other books. It’s about a little boy called Hercules who lives in a house with a lot of unusual animals, including his Aunt who is an alligator. He wants to save up to buy a box of magic tricks he sees in a toyshop window, so he starts doing odd jobs in return for ten cents and has a lot of interesting (funny!) experiences.

‘Ask Hercules Quick’

Buy from Apple Books

A hilarious and entertaining story about a boy who does a series of odd jobs for his eccentric neighbours, from the bestselling creators of The Terrible Plop.’

How much money do I have in my piggy bank?’ asked Hercules.
‘Actually,’ said Aunt Alligator, ‘I don’t think you have a piggy bank, Hercules.’ Hercules sighed. No piggy bank, no money. I need a job, he thought. That’s what I need. He got out his paints, his paintbrush and a big piece of plain paper. On the paper, he painted some words.


2. How did you get started as a writer?

I wanted to be a writer since I was six, but I was 26 before I got my first book published. It was a picture book illustrated by a friend of mine, Roberta Landers, and it’s called ‘Maisie and the Pinny Gig’, about a girl who has a dream about a giant guinea pig. We got it published by sending the manuscript and sample illustrations in the mail to lots and lots of publishers, until finally one said YES. (yay and phew!)

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

For the past year or so every day has been different. Some days I am able to sit down and write, some days I can’t for all sorts of reasons. But most days I spend at least an hour lying in bed reading when I wake up. (best part of the day!) And I try to play my ukulele every day, and pat my dog, Argus.

4. Can you describe your workspace for us?

I’ve got my own study now with a desk and a window to look out on. I’ve got a nice armchair to sit in when I want to play my ukulele. I use a computer mainly to write on, although lots of little notebooks as well. 

Ursula’s study

5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Try as hard as you can to finish whatever piece of writing that you’ve begun – story, play, poem. Even if you think it’s not going well, try to finish it. It’s amazing what you learn by finishing something – so next time you will be able to make your writing even better. 

6. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?

I like Pepito, the son of the Spanish Ambassador, in the ‘Madeline’ books by Ludwig Bemelmans. I like his thick black hair. 

7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

Mmmm. That’s always a hard question. I do like dogs. Maybe a job that involves dogs?

8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books? 

My favourite food is white chocolate cheesecake, which sometimes I even make. I don’t usually listen to music when I’m writing – I actually need pretty much total silence. (SHHHH!)

9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

Lots and lots and lots of myself – that’s really all I’ve got! Scraps of other people appear in some stories, but the characters are pretty much all made up – I find it easier to invent people.

10. One thing to change about the world?

That is too big a question for me. But perhaps the answer is somewhere in one of my books …

Browse all of Ursula’s books at Booktopia here

Ruby Olive Megan Pink Jacket and Who Am I Book

Are you new here? Welcome to Children's Books Daily! I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here and more about my offers here.

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  1. Nicole Sprainger on Jan 17, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Thanks, Megan for this great blog. I look forward to it arriving in my inbox each Friday. It is always a real treat. I have recommended to many colleagues who also find it informative and entertaining.

    I really enjoyed the interview with Ursula Dubosarsky. Just love her books. What a fabulous way to start the year. One piece of advice from Ursula which I will be sharing with young writers and their teachers is the tip about persevering and continuing to work on a piece of writing to completion. What a great tip!

    • Megan Daley on Jan 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      Oh thank you for your lovely feedback…and I agree…I LOVED that tip!

      • Megan Forward on Jan 20, 2020 at 8:05 pm

        OOOh, I haven’t read one of Ursula’s books before but you’ve got me wanting to now! Ps, I love your photo with the gorgeous mustard yellow hat!

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