Recently I was interviewed by The Sapling about From Moa to Dinosaurs, a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

To read the full interview with me and with the other non-fiction finalists click here.

I’ve decided to put a couple of my answers up on the blog, as these respond to frequently asked questions from both school children and adults.

3. How long did it take you to write the book? 

It took a year to create From Moa to Dinosaurs, once the concept had been agreed on. Ned Barraud (the illustrator) and I had discussed the idea of depicting extinct or relict species a few years earlier, but we were busy on another book and it took awhile to figure out how this idea fitted with our ‘explore and discover’ series. I had to do a lot of research before I wrote up the concept and even more before I started writing. I ran the first draft past a scientist, and he also looked at the rough illustrations and the ‘final’ text and illustrations. The hardest part about writing a book like this is that much of the science is still developing, for example, at the time I started researching, articles described a small mammal (not a bat) among the fossils at Lake Manuherikia. This was exciting as New Zealand had no history of native land mammals other than bats. Ned got as far as trying to illustrate this mammal when our expert told me there was now doubt around the mammal fossil! So I had to make the decision not to depict it.

4. How involved were you with the images/illustrations/photos? 

I’m very involved in the illustration process. I gave Ned a brief which described what animals needed to be illustrated. I also told him what I knew about these animals and some clues scientists have uncovered about the environment the animals lived in. Ned is a real master of composition and rises to the challenge of, for example, depicting a tiny gecko in the same illustration as a large crocodilian. We have a bit of back and forth as he refines the pictures and comes back with suggestions. Sometimes I alter bits of the text to better fit the final illustrations. This was a great project to work on together, as Ned could use his imagination to conjure up what Ancient New Zealand might have looked like. Knowing about the likely interaction between animals enabled him to put some drama into the illustrations too.

Please read the full interview on The Sapling.