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April 4, 2011 | by  | in Arts Books | [ssba]

Joy Cowley

Salient writer Kurt Barber catches up with Joy Cowley, one of New Zealand’s most prolific and well-respected children’s writers.

Who or what are your biggest inspirations in your writing, and what about them inspires you?

Inspiration came from teachers who recognized potential beyond the obvious poverty and untidiness. Life was hard for my parents: they saw value in physical labour but thought reading and writing a waste of time. By the time I was 14, I identified with school as “home” and saw my teachers in loco parentis.

What first inspired you to become a writer?

Reading. From a slow start I became an avid reader and the contents of books overflowed into
writing. This is usual for children who become addicted to reading. I continued writing, probably as a firm of deeper communication with myself, and in my twenties decided to try for publication. I think at that stage I felt I needed to justify the time spent writing by showing the world some financial reward; but that was more to do with social pressure than personal goal.

Do you have any advice for young writers wanting to write children’s literature?

Yes, and too much to put here. Last year I put together 50 years of writing for children in a book
called “Writing from the Heart” which was published as a fundraiser for the NZ Children’s Literature Foundation (Storylines). I think it’s $25.00 plus postage from Storylines and the money goes to promoting literature festivals for young people.

What achievement in writing are you most proud of?

Seeing a new generation of authors who learned to read with my books.

Do you have any particular plans for the future?

I’ll write as long as the ideas present themselves. What else would I do with them? But I hope to do more painting and more woodwork and happily crumble into sloppy old age with my lovely husband Terry.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant interview. Kurt is so super awesome!

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