My mother went to work, but read to me every night; Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with the scary, big, bad banksia men, and my favourite Elves and Fairies with beautiful pictures by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. I loved the verses by her sister Annie R Rentoul, especially the one that began:
I have cut my finger, Mother; tie it, Mother, quick!
See, the sticky’s off again; Mother, make it stick!
And the one that ended:
She’s really rather nice, I think.
I have to tell you something about myself because there are bits of me in many of my characters.
My father died before I was born. From his books and what people tell me, I believe he gave me a love of words. I lived the first eight years with my mother in my grandparents’ house, and this closeness with my own grandparents is probably why grandparents and old people feature so strongly in my books.
Errol and her Mum
I grew up riding my bicycle under the peppermint trees at Cottesloe, south of Perth , and dodging big, brown, spotted jellyfish in the Swan River . When I was older, I rode across the railway line to swim in the clear, deep water of the Indian Ocean – where there were sometimes sharks.
Holidays were spent in the south-west, catching herring off rocks, wandering under giant karri trees and marvelling at the beauty of underground caves.
One day a letter came to me addressed to Master Errol Broome. It made my mother laugh, but I didn’t want to be a boy. Then she sat down and told me something. ‘I wanted you to have your father’s initials. When you were born, the doctor asked your name. And when I told him Errol Carew Moss, he said “with a name like that, she should write a book.‘’ I always (almost) did as I was told!
I went to St Hilda’s School, where every year a teacher of English kept me interested in the language. I wasn’t good at sport or maths, and always thought that one day I would be a writer.
When I was eight, I got a wonderful stepfather and later a baby brother. I’ve written about step-families and given them some of the problems that could have arisen, but never did in our family.
Errol with her baby brother
Errol aged twelve with her dog, Atom
After University, I joined The West Australian as a cadet journalist and learned to write clearly so everyone could understand. And to stick to the facts. When I decided the time had come to write stories, I was free to make things up, and this was much harder. Writing fiction is like telling a lie. You must remember what you’ve said and carry it on, so people believe you. It’s much easier to stick to the truth – but not nearly as exciting!
My first book, Wrinkles (Collins), was about a cartwheeling grandmother. My latest, Song of the Dove (Walker Books), is a picture book illustrated by Archibald Prize finalist Sonia Kretschmar. Please look at it in the Books section, as I want to tell you about it.
In between, there have been thirty-something books (I told you I was no good at maths) mostly novels for readers between 7-13 years.
Errol and Michael's wedding
After I married (on Grand Final Day - would you do that these days?) we moved from Perth to Melbourne, with later spells in Papua New Guinea and Sydney, then back to Melbourne.
Errol and her family
Michael and I have
three grown-up sons,
Nick, Jon and Ben,
who all live in Melbourne.
Errol and her dog, Muttley
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