Before she became a best-selling author, R.A. Spratt was a stand-up comedian and sketch writer for satirical television comedies such as Good News Week. Not a huge leap, then, to writing her 24 best-selling books for children, lauded and loved the world over for making eight to 12-year-olds (and their parents) laugh. R.A. Spratt, a gym junkie refreshingly addicted to cake and chocolate, came up with her porcine protagonist Nanny Piggin ‘while listening to a radio report about the flying pigs at the Sydney Royal Easter Show’. The idea for her brilliant child detective and all-round brainbox Friday Barnes came to her in Big W. The genesis for her books, The Peski Kids, was writing about three squabbling siblings. R.A. Spratt lives in Bowral with a husband, two daughters, a dog and three chickens. @raspratt
My life in five words is … I do not do brevity.
We moved to the Southern Highlands … in 2006.
I love the Highlands because … everyone knows everyone. I like that people stop their cars for ducks when they cross the road. That the giant potato in Robertson looks like a poo and everyone knows it. That the staff at the Wingello general store will patiently wait 18 minutes (we literally timed her) while my nine-year-old picked out $2 worth of pick and mix lollies.
Followers of my Instagram see piccies … of me doing my podcast. I post a teaser every Wednesday. I also post pictures of my dog, any baby ducks I see, pictures of me when I’m on tour and if you go back far enough to when we were in lockdown, you can see videos of me doing physical challenges for the kids stuck at home (which usually ended up with me falling on my head).
When it comes to writing, this is one truth I know … I don’t believe in truth. I prefer fiction.
I started writing for children because … I got a job writing for a preschool TV show called Bambaloo and there was not a lot of work around for political satirists at the time, so my career took a seismic shift. The first thing I always say to people who tell me they want to be a writer is …. get a specialist entertainment accountant.
When it comes to being a writer, the thing that has always driven me is … my overwhelming desire to pay the mortgage.
Being one of Australia’s favourite writers for young people allows me to … visit schools all around Australia and the world. You get a unique insight into communities when you visit their schools. It’s a privilege.
Nanny Piggins and Friday Barnes, some of my best-known characters, were inspired by …the great aviatrixes of the 1920s and 30s, and Sherlock Holmes.
Other writers who inspire me include … Robin Klein, Douglas Adams, Anthony Trollope.
The one thing I have achieved I am most proud of is … I get to make kids laugh. It’s not easy being a kid. I’m very lucky that I have a job where I get to spread some joy in the world.
The thing I hope my books give my readers is … the desire to read another book.
Away from my writing desk, I love to … Go to the gym. I seriously spend more time thinking about working out than I do writing. Also, I really enjoy espaliering fruit trees. I love my garden.
When we have friends visiting the Highlands, we always take them … To Bowral Sweets and Treats. Then, if they’re literary types, I’ll show them P.L. Travers’ house on Holly Street.
My favourite place in the Highlands is … Bowral swimming pool. It is so beautiful standing in the sun in the shallow end late on a summer’s afternoon. I love it because you can’t be expected to answer your phone messages when you’re standing in a pool.
The most precious piece of advice (writing or otherwise) I ever received was … don’t listen to advice. People tell you to do things they would never dream of doing themselves.
And finally, please finish this sentence: Old childrens’ authors never die, they just … never die. You can just end the sentence there. Our work lives forever in physical form though books, but also in the imagination of the children who read them as they go on and become adults themselves and through them my ideas seep into the collective cultural consciousness of the entire community. Also, I promised my children I wouldn’t die, and I don’t like to break a promise.