This might be the happiest time of my life.

View this email in your browser

Furry Wombats, Furry Knees

Here is a secret: I have furry knees.

It is a side effect of having knee replacement surgery that no one had mentioned. Or maybe it has only happened to me. But I do have a rather pretty white fuzz, almost invisible, over my knees. I rather like it.

And they work! 

There were weeks when I thought I’d be left with legs like lumps of wood.

But I’m walking, well before schedule and, as of this afternoon, running.

I didn’t mean to run. I happened to be in the garden and Wild Whiskers charged me, part of her chair gnawing, doormat chewing intimidation campaign for carrots. And I turned and ran.

Wombat news

If you have been following the life of the new baby wombat, and her naming campaign (we got the wombats to choose her name, taping the names the schools suggested onto many buckets of carrots. The first to be eaten would be the name) you’ll know that her name is now …

Rosie McBristles

The name was chosen from the first two carrots to be completely eaten – the wombats rejected quite a few, tasting them until they found one they wanted. You might even have thought they knew what they were doing. You never know with wombats.


There is a magic video of Rosie’s first somersault on Twitter and Facebook. As far as I know it’s the first time a wombat has ever been filmed somersaulting. And possibly the last …

They are fat, furry and happy, despite the dryness, with plenty of grass from last summer. And carrots. For the first time ever, a dozen or so local wombats have far more carrots than even they could eat.

I have a project and ...

Ahem. Please, to every teacher who reads this, could you ask your students to find the answers to their project questions on my web site, or in the book itself,  and not email the project to me? Because I can’t find three examples of similes in Chapter 4 of Ophelia, Queen of Denmark. I wasn’t thinking about similes at the time and I don’t have a copy and I have two hundred other emails to answer …

There’ll always be kids, and adults, who need to email, to question, to discuss. But when it’s ‘just a project’ could you hint that they should find the answers and not just send the work to me?

Other news

There hasn’t been much. I’ve spent the last month mostly sitting with my legs up on a milk crate, answering emails and writing a novel and watching the wombats, wallabies and lyrebirds out the window, feeling very blessed to have a comfortable warm spot to work with my feet up on a milk crate and a job that allowed me to continue to work, with aforesaid legs resting on milk crate.

It has been a strangely lovely time, when I could and had to say ‘no’ to every request because I couldn’t walk or travel, nor had much stamina. I don’t think I have ever had weeks at a time of rest in my life. Time to listen. Time to think. Long nights when I couldn’t sleep or read (it turns out pain killers have no effect on me) and I just …

… I’m not sure what. Let the universe seep in. I don’t know if there are words for it. But once I had accepted that nothing would change the pain and accepted it, it changed. And I changed. And I listened.


Awards and shortlistings

Cyclone, with the magnificent Bruce Whatley, named a Notable Book by the CBCA.

The Ghost by the Billabong shortlisted for one of the NSW Premier’s Awards. 
Fire with Bruce Whatley, has been shortlisted for a KOALA (Kid’s Choice) Award, as has Pennies for Hitler.

Neither are easy books. Kids don’t always need easy. They appreciate deep and profound even more than adults. The job of a child is to learn how the world works. One way to find the world beyond your family, school and TV is a book

Books out now

Goodbye, Mr Hitler
Ages: 11+

This is the best book I have written and the most deeply important. It is a book that matters — and I have never said that about my work before.
Goodbye, Mr Hitler is the third in the loose trilogy that began with Hitler’s Daughter and Pennies for Hitler. It is the story of Johan, of Heide who has now become Helga Schmidt, and Georg’s mother. 

The book still has too powerful a hold on me to write about it. If I could summarise it I wouldn’t have needed to write the book. Perhaps this quotation from the last chapter might say what I can’t about the book, and why it is one that so many need to understand now, today, as the world begins another insane spiral that, as a historian, I recognise too well:

The world has many ogres. Some, like Mr Hitler, do not even know that they are ogres, but dream they are the hero of the story.

But I have learned this in the years since I was ten years old: when you see injustice, stand beside each other and seize your spears. My spears are made of words. Yours may be different. But do not hesitate or look away. If too many look away, the ogres win. To be mostly deeply human we must risk our lives for others. Only when we stand together can we be truly free.

It is not easy fighting ogres. No one who fights an ogre comes away unscarred, even if you cannot see the wounds. And so you owe the ogre hunters this.

When the ogre has been vanquished, sit down upon the quiet earth and try to understand the ogre’s anguish and his twisted fear. Only by understanding can we stop them rising in our midst.

When you understand, forgive.

And then stand up, and live.

Live well.

Third Witch
Ages: 14+

Passion, betrayal, battles and love: a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, true to the play, but told from the viewpoint of Annie, a village girl who became a lady-in-waiting at the castle of the local thane. Here the play is stripped of its superstitions; integrity and kindness are able to triumph over hatred; and for some there may be a happy ending.

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

Koala Bare (illustrated by Matt Shanks)
October 2017
Age range: Everyone!

Koala Bare! A hilarious koala tail, sorry, tale, with the brilliant Matt Shanks

Facing the Flame
December 2017

The next in the Matilda saga

This doesn’t include many other non-public events – it’s just meant as a guide to where I may be if there is anything else possible while I’m nearby. For bookings check the terms on the website and contact Booked Out, Melbourne or Speaker’s Ink QLD.

August: Release of Wombat Wins paperback.
September: If Blood Should Stain the Wattle paperback released.
6-9 September: Brisbane Writer’s Festival
October: Koala Bare released.
25 October: Children's Day, Canberra
29 October: Launch of Goodbye, Mr Hitler at the Sydney Jewish Museum (and a chance to thank the extraordinary holocaust survivors who not just inspired the book, but my life). The next Monday and possibly Tuesday after the launch, PR events in Sydney: contact Holly at Harper Collins for details or bookings.
December: A Land of Love and Flame released (Matilda Book 7).

3rd-8th March: Adelaide Festival Writers' Week
14th-16th March: Somerset Literary Festival on the Gold Coast 

The August garden: A song to lemon trees

For reasons of new (and still stiff) knees, I’m not gardening yet, though I am ordering seeds for spring and summer planting and hoping we get some rain so that I can. So here is a small song to lemon trees and how to grow them, till I am back to gardening mode.
Read more here.


Passionfruit cordial

World’s best lemon cordial

Hot or cold beetroot salad

Spiced baked sweet potatoes

Chocolate beetroot muffins

Deliciously easy lemon white chocolate cake with lemon ganache

Double choc almond brownies

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
HarperCollins Publishers · Lvl 13 · 201 Elizabeth St · Sydney, NSW 2000 · Australia

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp