Book People: Samantha Turnbull
Book People: Samantha Turnbull
Yesterday I shared a review and book trailer (here) for the new series, ‘The Anti-Princess Club’, which has become a favourite in my school library! Working at a girls school, I’m always on the lookout for books with strong female characters and princesses who don’t need saving!
I first came across Samantha Turnbull as a slam poet and ABC journalist. My very lovely fiend/friend/#DBC, Eden Riley, and Samantha were competing in the Australian Poetry Slam NSW finals – see below. I loved her anti-princess message and the passion with which she delivered it. I’m very pleased to be able to feature her here today as part of my ‘Book People’ series – so that we can all learn a little more about her, and the story behind her first books for children.
To add these books to your home, school or library collection, click here or on cover images.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Samantha Turnbull
1. Tell us about your latest book.
I actually have four books coming out all at once – The Anti-Princess Club series.
Each book is told through the eyes of one of four best friends: Emily Martin, Chloe Karalis, Bella Singh and Grace Bennett. They’re all 10, and they’re all sick of being treated like princesses in one way or another.
Emily’s a maths and computer genius, Bella’s a power tool-wielding Picasso, Chloe’s a future Nobel Prize-winning scientist, and Grace is an athletic powerhouse.
When Emily’s mum enters her in a beauty pageant, it’s the final straw and she forms the Anti-Princess Club with Chloe, Bella and Grace. Their motto is: ‘We don’t need rescuing!’
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, but somewhere along the line an adult told me that nobody makes money in fiction and that if I wanted to write for a living I should be a journalist.
I took that advice and after more than a decade working as a journalist I had my first child.
I had a year off to be at home with the baby and decided to write my first book for children.
I really wish I hadn’t waited so long because I was offered a publishing contract for that first book, and three more, almost immediately.
I do enjoy journalism, but I’d love to be able to focus solely on writing for children eventually!
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Right now, I have a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, so my days are very busy.
Every day I juggle motherhood, my ‘regular’ daytime job as a journalist at the ABC, and my children’s book writing.
My children’s book writing takes place at night after my kids have gone to sleep. It’s the only time I get to myself, so most of the second, third and fourth Anti-Princess Club books were written in the middle of the night/wee hours of the morning!
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
I’d love to say I write in a light-filled studio overlooking the ocean, but the truth is I write in a messy corner of our garage. Yep, garage.
Since the kids came along, our family has outgrown our home and we are on the hunt for a new one! When baby two arrived, I lost my indoor study.
I’m not the tidiest person, so my workspace is quite unorganised. But I do have the kids to thank for all of the lovely artwork on the walls around my desk. (see pic)
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
There’s no such thing as someone who doesn’t like reading – you just haven’t found the right book yet! I’m not going to fib – there were plenty of books given to me by adults that I just didn’t like when I was a kid. But, there were LOADS that I LOVED. Keep looking and you’ll find them too.
If you love writing – don’t stop! You don’t have to write a novel. You don’t even have to write something for anyone else to read. Write for yourself – in journals, diaries, letters, a private blog. You’ll end up treasuring those words forever.
And finally – there are story ideas EVERYWHERE. I wrote the Anti-Princess Club after feeling angry about all of the princessy stuff people were giving to my daughter. Maybe there’s something you feel angry about that could inspire a book too:)
6. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?
Aaaaah, I have so many. If I had to narrow it down to one, I’d say Roald Dahl’s Matilda – favourite book and favourite character.
No, wait, Lemony Snicket is tied with Matilda. And Pippi Longstocking is a close second.
I also LOVED anything by Robin Klein or Judy Blume when I was a kid.
As for my own books, I think Bella is my favourite character. But my favourite book in the series is Chloe’s River Rescue (the fourth book). I secretly hope it’s not the end though and that one day, sooner or later, there will be more Anti-Princess Club books to come.
7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
I’m also a journalist and mum, so I guess it would be left at that!
If I had time to throw something else in the mix, I’d love to make a living from performance poetry – at the moment it’s a side passion that’s slowly growing into something more.
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I’m a big treat-eater while writing. Ice cream, chocolate, cake – I’ll take it all! My friend, children’s author Tristan Bancks, once asked me if I changed my workspace much between projects and I replied: “Well, I shake the cupcake crumbs out of my keyboard.”
As for music etc – I usually work in silence. Not much choice when I’m typing away at 2am with snoozing kidlets nearby!
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
A LOT. Most scenarios in The Anti-Princess Club series were inspired by real-life – either things that have happened to me, my friends, or something I’ve at least read about in the news.
There are also a lot of random names in my books that were taken from my friends’ children.
I recently had an awkward moment with a friend when I told her that her son’s name featured in one of my books. She said “oh, well I hope he’s not a bad character.” Then I gulped as I realised he kind of is. I tried to smooth it over by assuring her that he turns out to be a good guy in the end! By the way – her son is lovely – it was just his name, not his traits, that I stole!
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
To end extreme inequality. Specifically, I would love to close the massive gap between the world’s richest and poorest people. Did you know that the 85 richest people in the world share the equivalent wealth of the world’s 3.5 billion poorest people? That’s a statistic Emily, from my books, would know.
OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now!