Primary schools in Narrandera, Jerilderie, Hay, Coleambally and Darlington Point have been treated to a presentation by author Lisa Shanahan for Book Week, through the Murrumbidgee Council and the NSW State Library.
Ms Shanahan has written 12 picture books for children, as well as three chapter books and two novels for older children. She began the presentation by telling the children about her childhood and how it helped her to become an author.
“When I was a little girl, I was always making up stories in my head. I would pretend that I was a mermaid and whenever my friend and I would go swimming in the pool we would imagine that we didn’t have legs; that instead we had a big long tail.
“Or I would pretend that there were aliens, pretending to be people. That I had a ray gun hidden in my clothes, and that I had to try and guess who was actually an alien in disguise. Even people I loved. Even my own mother! I would watch my mother while I ate my breakfast, wondering if an alien was going to burst out of her skin.”
“My mother thought I was staring at her because I loved her. But I was always making up stories,” Ms Shanahan said.
Using a series of slides, Ms Shanahan shared some early examples of her writing, from when she was in year 8.
“That was when I thought that maybe people did that for a living. You could pretend, and then you could write, and you could do that for a job. That was when I figured that out.”
Ms Shanahan also talked about her life-long habit of keeping a diary, and asked the students what they thought she might write down in them.
“Sometimes I collect words. When you’re a writer, that’s what you do, you collect interesting words.”
Ms Shanahan showed the students pictures of her own sons and told them about funny words her children would come up with when they were small.
“When they were little, I used to listen to my kids. Because little kids are so free and funny with their language. My son used to listen to the cicadas singing in the trees and call them ‘Riccardos’, which I loved, because it made them sound Italian. He called the letterbox the peekaboo box.”
“Sometimes, I write down stories.” Ms Shanahan told the students a story about trying to get her son to sleep when he was a baby. This experience became the basis of her book, “Sleep Tight, My Honey”, which she then read to the children.