Bren MacDibble

What books did you read when you were a child?
Any book I could get, which wasn't always easy when the public library was too far away and the school library shut over the summer. We owned Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink and Dune by Frank Herbert (not really a kid's book but we loved it) and a set of encyclopedias so I read those every summer, and I remember working through all the Nancy Drew mysteries.

If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
Pippi Longstockings! How much fun did she have? Such a carefree lifestyle - and monkeys!

What is the best thing about reading?
That you get to explore different worlds and try out strange futures, and learn so much, without even trying. Also you get to see inside people's heads, you can't do that in a movie.

What is your all time favourite book?
Oh! I have so many! Today I'll pick, Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson. It's tight, pacy, full of so many topics, history, linguistics, archeology, computer science, cryptography, memetics. Everything wonderful that a science fiction novel can be.

Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
Talk to them a lot and answer all their questions in a kind and patient way so they feel like they are important and supported enough to tell you what's going on in their heads. So many kids are afraid to express their fears, and the world is an increasingly scary place.

How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
My mother played a huge role. She refused to teach me to read until after my older brother could read, so I was super keen to learn everything I was unfairly denied! She also bought me a typewriter when I was in high school and wanted to be a writer, and handed down adult books she had read.

How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
Bedtime reading, of course, even after they can read by themselves. I read to my boys until they hit 13, by which time we were into The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the Discworld books, and more complicated books.

Bren MacDibble was raised on farms all over New Zealand, so is an expert about being a kid on the land. After 20 years in Melbourne, Bren recently sold everything, and now lives and works in a bus travelling around Australia. In 2018, How to Bee, her first novel for younger readers, won multiple awards in Australia and New Zealand. Her next book for children, The Dog Runner, is published this month.

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