This might be the happiest time of my life.

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Canberra: Friday, 1:35pm...

I am sitting in Canberra airport hoping that every small plane that lands isn’t the one I am supposed to fly out on to Newcastle. I am not a good flyer. Well, actually, I’d be a happy flier if I had my own wings. Just don’t like relying on other pilots/engineers etc. when I am 20,000 feet in the air. Would also prefer that air pockets were coloured with ink for easy avoidance.

But am also excited. Newcastle Writers Festival starts tomorrow — a session with kids, a Q and A with an interview by/with the wonderful Catherine Keenan and, calloo callay, reading Josephine Wants to Dance to a new score created with the Newcastle Youth Orchestra on Sunday. Should be stunningly, wonderfully inspiring.
1:40 pm Eating an apple and my lipstick. Am not deliberately eating my lipstick. It goes with the apple.
1:45 pm Finished apple. Also lipstick. Should have boarded fifteen minutes ago but no sign of the plane yet. Also no sign of rubbish bin. Apple core in tissue in handbag. Yuck.
1:46 pm Plane landed. Tiny! Can I walk to Newcastle in time for tomorrow’s session?
1:47 pm Stop being a wuss. It’s only 1 hour 45 minutes of terror. Will now pause for calming breathing exercise.
2:30 pm Pilot says it will be smooth and sunny, but last week it was like being in a washing machine.
3:00 pm  Smooth and sunny! No touch of washing machine. Views so glorious I forget to take pics. Lake, beaches to the horizon.
4:45 pm I adore Newcastle!!!!!!! Had forgotten how wonderful it is. Fascinating industrial landscape, hotel looks out on an old port and two boats/ships/vessels of maritime provenance have just passed my room, plus one canoeist, one small sailboat and many happy dogs being walked by happy people. Museum looked deeply intriguing on the way in.
5:01pm Why isn’t Newcastle listed as one of the world’s top ten destinations??!?!? Soooo interesting.

Bushed. Elated. Joyous! The performance of Josephine Wants to Dance with the Newcastle Youth Orchestra will be with me forever.

The hall awaiting the arival of the Newcastle Youth Orchestra for Josephine Wants to Dance. Will never forget this as long as I live

Wombat news

Nil. None. Nix. They are happy, free and waddle out to eat lush grass for maybe an hour in each twenty-four, then go back to sleep, leaving long green droppings behind. No square ones in this weather. If they get any fatter they’ll roll down the slope to the creek.

Effect of the recent floods near our home. We needed to make like a wombat and go through it!

Books out now

Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies
Ages: 14+

A tale of love, espionage and passionate heroism. Inspired by true stories, this is a take on how the ‘lovely ladies’ won a war, the first in a new series that shows the changing concepts of what it means to be a woman – and a fulfilled one – beginning in 1913. The reviews have been wonderful, and the comments too: ‘literally unputdownable’; ‘you HAVE to read this.’
I very much hope you do, and I am two thirds through the next one…..

Millie Loves Ants
Ages: Everyone

With the glorious Sue deGennaro, we dreamed this up three years ago while watching her daughters explore the valley.

If Blood Should Stain the Wattle
Ages: 12+

The sixth book in the Matilda series, written for young adults 12 and upwards.

This is Australia from 1972–1975, with the Whitlam government sweeping away twenty-three years of Coalition tradition as seen through the eyes of a country town. It was a time of intense idealism throughout the nation – even if many of those ideals differed deeply.

In Gibbers Creek, Jed must choose between her old love, Nicholas, who is the new Labor Party MP, and Sam from the Half Way to Eternity commune; Scarlett dreams of becoming a doctor, despite her wheelchair; Ra Zachariah waits for the end of the world and the coming of a new one – and is prepared to be ruthless to make sure it arrives.

And Matilda Thompson will see her father’s political dream from the 1890s made real; she will see mistakes, conspiracies, anguish and elation; and finally be proud that, even as the nation is torn apart in the Dismissal, no blood stained the wattle.

The Secret of the Black Bushranger
Ages: 8+

The third in the Secret History series. Barney has finally been given his farm, making him the youngest landowner in the colony. But is the escaped convict he helped a laughing villain or a freed slave who cannot endure chains again?  Who was John ‘Black’ Caesar? The result of years of research into this previously unknown corner of our history, this book combines adventure with insight into the early years of our first colony.​

Grandma Wombat (with Bruce Whatley)
Ages: Everyone!

Our grandkids are always perfect. Even if you are a wombat. Especially if you are a wombat … and your grandson is as stroppy as you are.

Also look for:

Wombat Goes to School
Perfect for kids just starting school or who need some extra enthusiasm for the years to come.

The Diary of William Shakespeare, Gentleman
Ages: 12+

Could the world’s most famous author stop writing when he retired? Part love story, part historical detective work, this is the story of the young Shakespeare told by the old one, and the book where I discovered evidence that possibly, even probably, Shakespeare faked his own death. Read the book to find out why.​


Books coming soon

Goodbye Mr Hitler

The sequel to both Hitler’s Daughter and Pennies for Hitler, and the hardest book I have ever written. And possibly the best. To the thousands who have written asking questions about both the earlier books: this book will answer them and I hope give far more.

Third Witch

This is the fourth in the Shakespeare series. It is about ‘the Scottish play’, with absolutely no witchcraft and enough love to balance the evil and a woman’s voice to lessen the misogyny. And, if you think you know the play, you may not expect this ending, which has everything Shakespeare put in it — and more.


21 April: Wheeler Centre, Melbourne. Conversation about Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies.
23–24 MaySPELD QLD fundraiser and talks to young people.
27 May: Savannah: Townsville's Festival of Stories. Q&A, 'How to Speak Wombat'; book launch for Miss Lilly's Lovely Ladies and Millie Loves Ants.
June: Release of Goodbye Mr Hitler.
3 June: Keynote at Australian Childcare Alliance Conference, Gold Coast, QLD.
4 June: Book Links Brisbane, talk at the State Library, topic, 'The Forgotten Women of History: Heroism and Scandals.'
8–9 June: Adelaide SEATA.
30 June: Sydney, launch of Goodbye, Mr Hitler and talks at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
July: Release of Third Witch.
1 July: CYA conference, Brisbane, QLD.
17 July: We go see Diary of a Wombat at the Canberra Theatre.
August: Release of Wombat Wins paperback.
September: If Blood Should Stain the Wattle paperback released.
October: Koala Bare released.
December: A Land of Love and Flame released (Matilda Book 7).


The June Garden

 Lemon is one of the most magical scents in the garden. Much as I love roses – especially a cloud of rose perfume on a hot day – lemon scents are often stronger, as they come from the leaves not the flowers. There are more leaves than blooms, so much more scent.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have flowers as well as lemon scents. 
Read more here.

Extremely Naughty Sweets for Cold Days:
Lemon Slice – the condensed milk kind

Decadent passionfruit slice
Apple compote

More Virtuous and Deeply Delicious Autumn Tucker:
Grilled mushroom sandwich
Chook and apples
Chook with tomatoes and olives
Chook with almonds, oranges, tomato and basil

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