ARTicle Magazine

This reading life: RA Spratt

21 January 2018

Rachel Spratt is a bestselling Australian author and television writer. She is known for the enormously popular Nanny Piggins and Friday Barnes series of books for young readers.

R A SPRATT .jpg

Rachel will be a guest at Writers & Readers as part of the New Zealand Festival in Wellington, 8–11 March. 

The first book to capture my imagination was ...

I can’t remember;  I’m very old and it was a long time ago.  I do remember getting a book of fairy tales for perfect attendance at Sunday School when I was about four years old.  I loved the stories but I was frightened of the pictures.

The books and/or other writing that saw me through childhood were ...

I really liked Asterix and Obelix, Garfield, Encyclopedia Brown, anything by Roald Dahl, anything by Robin Klein and English comics like The Beano.

The character in a book I most wanted to be as a child was ...

I once dressed up as JD Polson the armadillo from JD Polson and the Liberty Head Dime.  It wasn’t a very comfortable costume.  I couldn’t sit down.

Polson

The book I studied at school that has stayed with me most is ...

To Kill A Mockingbird.

The author I am most likely to binge-read is ...

Jane Austen.  I usually reread all her books every couple of years.  I’ve just finished binge-listening to all the Jane Austen audio books read by Juliette Stevenson. She is amazing. Hearing it read by someone that good adds a whole extra layer to the comprehension of the text.

The book I am most likely to press on a friend is ...

I would never do that.  I don’t like it when people “press a book” on me.  It feels like I’m being set relationship homework.

I don’t like it when people “press a book” on me. It feels like I’m being set relationship homework.

The book I most wish someone would write is ...

Reanimate Jane Austen and get her to write an eighth novel. Also, a cookbook that explains the principles of chemistry while teaching the reader how to create delicious meals. 

The book I keep meaning to get around to reading but somehow never do is ...

Sometimes I think I should read something Russian by someone like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but I spend most of my free time feeling exhausted and their novels seem exhausting in themselves, both in subject matter and word count.  I suppose I will get around to it eventually.  Perhaps when I am stuck on a desert island and I don’t get to choose the one book I bring.

Sometimes I think I should read something Russian by someone like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but I spend most of my free time feeling exhausted and their novels seem exhausting in themselves

The book I have reread the most is ...

That would be a tough call.  It’s either Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen, Persuasion by Jane Austen or Rivals by Jilly Cooper.

Rivals

The newspapers, magazines and blogs I can't do without are ...

I love it when I can be separated from those three things. One of my favourite things to do is go to the pool, because I can’t be expected to read anything on my phone when I’m standing in the middle of a pool.

If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with me, it would be ...

A blank book so I could write something.  I would probably have a lot to get off my chest, for a start my annoyance at how I came to be on the island.

Bookmark, scrap of paper or turning down the corner of the page?

Turning down the corner.

The first 50 pages or bust? Or always to the bitter end?

One hundred pages is the quitting point for me if a book isn’t cutting it.

The book I am always on the lookout for in secondhand shops is ...

I don’t approve of secondhand bookshops. Authors don’t make royalties from secondhand sales.  If I want to buy a book, I go to a bookshop and pay full recommended retail price.  Books don’t cost very much new.  As an author I don’t want to let another author down, by cutting them out of the financial process.

My favourite cinematic adaptation of a book is ...

Clueless.  Most adaptations of Jane Austen books don’t get the humour or the characters.  Clueless gets the spirit of Emma much better than any other adaptation I’ve seen.

Clueless movie

The character in a book I'd most like to meet is ...

This question assumes I’m living my life on a much richer fantasy level than I actually do.

A line of writing I can recite from memory is ...

“Reader, I married him.”  From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I love it when an author directly addresses the reader.  It’s one of my favourite devices.  It irritates editors as well, which is an added bonus.  Also that one line is the most anti-climactic climax ever.  You read the whole great long book waiting for it to happen and then it’s over in four words.  I love it.

My favourite 19th-century book is ..

Persuasion.

Persuasion

My favourite 20th-century book is ...

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

My favourite contemporary writers are ...

JK Rowling, Robert Galbraith, Alexander McCall Smith, Jilly Cooper, Lee Child.

The book/s currently by the side of my bed is/are ..

There are a lot of them.  Sometimes they avalanche into my dirty washing pile.  There’s a lot of romance and crime fiction in there as well as some contemporary literature usually given to me by my misguided publishers.


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