Jacque Duffy is an Australian artist, writer, teacher, entrepreneur, savvy business woman, mother and uni student (and lover of coffee!) She is one of the amazing women I know who inspire me so I’m honoured to be able to share some of her journey with you.
1) Your children’s books series, ‘That’s not a…’ are in Queensland State Schools, libraries and child care centres, which is an amazing achievement for a first time author. But there’s something special about, ‘That’s not a house!’. Can you tell us about the event that inspired the story and affected you personally?
In 2006 Tropical Cyclone Larry visited. We hadn’t been through a major cyclone before so were in for a surprise. Although we took the advice of emergency services and prepared the house and property we were still unprepared for the event. Hitomi our Japanese exchange student phoned her parents and translated a message from me to them saying she would be kept safe and not to worry if they do not hear from her for a week or so as we will lose communications. Little did I realise we would also lose our house. The only room left was the one we (9 of us) hid in for 12 hours throughout the night.
The cyclone was scary enough. If I said the weeks that followed were horrible that would be an understatement. Each person was allowed only $20 of fuel per day to run cars and generators, when you live 20 kms away from the fuel station the fuel doesn’t last long. Only 5 people were allowed into the grocery store at a time and each person was under armed guard. It rained for 98 days straight and we had no electricity for 6 months.
Because my other books were all called That’s not a … people in town suggested I write ‘That’s not a Cyclone’, I couldn’t do that… it was when Lachlan said he didn’t like living in a shed because it wasn’t his home I came up with the idea of ‘That’s not a House’. The book was used by the government mental health units and the Catholic Church to counsel the children displaced by the event. It has since been used after most natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand to counsel displaced children.
2) Although you had great success self-publishing your other books, you went with a traditional publisher for The Bear Said Please. Why did you choose this road as opposed to self-publishing again?
3) Your most recent publication, Anzac – The Story of a Little Goat, was published in a different way altogether with Kickstarter. What was that experience like and what led you to it?
It would have been nice to be traditionally published by one of the big houses but the book was chosen to appear in the 2015 edition of the ‘Exploring Grammar in the Primary Years’ published by the Australian Literacy educators Association and it needed to be released in good time. Because of my previous success with self publishing I decided to go it alone again BUT, as I am currently manoeuvring my way through a marriage insolvency I thought the book should be completely stand alone financially. In the past i have supported the publication of picture books and other exciting projects through Kickstarter and Indigogo and thought it was the right thing to do. I must say there is a lot of hard work involved in running a campaign.
4) Writing isn’t your only talent – would you say art is your first passion or were you always secretly a writer?
I have always secretly been a writer, my artwork is just another form of storytelling.
5) Just to make your life even more busy I hear you are studying? What are you doing right now and do you have plans when you’re finished?
At the moment I am studying Ancient history and English Literature to be followed up with Education. By the time I finish I will be a secondary teacher of Art, History and English. Although at the moment my imagination is being challenged with ideas from the texts and myths I am currently studying and I am keen to write.
6) Can you share with us what your writing style is?
I am definitely a Pantser If you wee a fly on my wall you would know EXACTLY what I was writing by what I was physically doing. For example when writing a picture book I tend to dance around – heaps of movement… I almost act out the story as I think of it. If I am sitting at my computer writing I will be working on a novel of some kind and you can be sure someone will die… gruesomely. To not kill people I write picture books with a pencil. As far as editing goes, there is very little, maybe structural with the picture books. And the novels well they are stuck because I keep editing as I go and don’t move along very quickly *Note to self – stop doing that.