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breaching whale

Every year my family goes out onto the Indian Ocean to watch the whales travelling down the WA coast on their annual migration. Sometimes we’re lucky and a whale comes to investigate the boat, or flings itself joyfully out of the water nearby. I am one of those whose life has been deeply affected by the contact I’ve had with these magnificent creatures – ever since I had the privilege of scuba diving at close quarters with a minke whale ten years ago on the Great Barrier Reef. So this week I’ll be watching events in Morocco, as the IWC meets to discuss whaling. The strides forward that many people around the world have campaigned tirelessly for are now threatened, with deals for the resumption of commercial whaling on the table. I firmly believe that whaling has no place in a progressive future for the world, and I hope that compassion and conservation rather than commerce win the day. 

On a lighter note, I’m also avidly watching the World Cup, and with my dual loyalties hoping that both the Socceroos and England can make it through the group stage. They’re certainly making us sweat…!col-md-2

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    A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME

    I live in Perth, Western Australia, with my husband and two young daughters.

    Before I was a writer I worked as a book editor, at first in-house at HarperCollins UK and then freelance. I have edited and proofread well over 100 books, fiction and non-fiction, including novels by Paullina Simons and Liane Moriarty.

    My favourite authors include Maggie O’Farrell, Toni Morrison, Nicci French, Sara Gruen, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Wendy James, Kate Morton, Liane Moriarty, Natasha Lester, Dervla McTiernan, Jodi Picoult and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

    My favourite books include The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell. The list goes on and on.

    My favourite poetry collection is The Self-Completing Tree by Dorothy Livesay.

    I was one of the original editors of the Kids’ Night In book series, which has been raising money for War Child since 2003.

    I’m a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and I’m studying the genre for my PhD at Curtin University. My favourites include The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Book of the Unknown Midwife by Meg Elison, and Pure by Julianna Baggott.

    As a kid, in addition to devouring Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books,  I loved the Sue Barton nurse stories and Gerald Durrell’s animal adventures. Later on I read everything written by the Brontes, and devoured the dark thrillers of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike.

    I was born and raised in England, but I’ve always had family connections to Australia, and we visited the east coast a few times during my childhood. My introduction to Australian literature was reading All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato, and after that I wanted to be Delie Gordon for quite a while. In 1999 I made sure I got to stand at the wheel of the Philadelphia paddle steamer when we visited the Murray River region.

    My first pop concert, aged 12, was a Stock Aitken and Waterman event featuring my first love Jason Donovan. I was on a high for weeks afterwards. Little did I know that twenty years later I would end up editing his autobiography.

    I love marine animals, and I’m a keen snorkeler and sometime scuba diver. I’ve played with baby sea lions, penguins and marine iguanas in the Galapagos and scuba-dived with Galapagos reef sharks and hammerhead sharks. I’ve glided with manta rays in Coral Bay (WA) and the Similan Islands in Thailand, encountered huge potato cod and graceful minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef, and swum with the mighty whale sharks of Ningaloo. I’ve experienced the absolute joy of being surrounded by wild dolphins in New Zealand and WA waters, and once had the very special experience of a dolphin ‘buzzing’ me while I was pregnant (using concentrated echolocation to ‘see’ the baby).

    In 2011 I went to Japan while researching Shallow Breath, and visited Taiji, the town famous for its horrific dolphin drives. I was only there for two days, and thankfully I didn’t have to witness the brutal hunt up close, although I watched the banger boats drive the dolphins in from a distance. However, I did encounter the dolphins in captivity in the sea pens, being broken and starved while trained for human entertainment. Those images will stay with me forever.

    I met my husband Matt when I was nineteen. We both love to travel, and we tend to pick places where we can pursue our passions for animal encounters and the natural world. Our highlights include four months in South-East Asia, including chartering a tiny vessel to Komodo Island and staying amongst the dragons. We got engaged on an island full of monkeys in Halong Bay, Vietnam, and  for our honeymoon we visited Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, the Galapagos Islands, and travelled into the heart of the Manu Biosphere of the Amazon to see everything from capybaras to caimans. We have taken our two young girls to Japan, China, Singapore, the UK and Lapland, but Covid has meant we have spent the last couple of years exploring Western Australia – Dirk Hartog Island, Dunsborough and Walpole’s Valley of the Giants being some of the highlights. Whenever life allows, we’re always keen to have another adventure.