Claire cried when her youngest brother was born because she was really hoping for a sister. Four brothers seemed to be more than anyone could possibly need (or want). Her parents had to remove the front seat of their car to accommodate his basinet, and the rest of them squeezed in across the back seat. Claire moved to Papua New Guinea when she was ten, to an island with very big spiders, bugs, and snails. There were also wonderful beaches and coral reefs. She went to boarding school for three tough years and one okay one before her family moved back to Melbourne, Australia. She spent many years working in community health before leaving to write full time. What she loved most about community health was the stories.
Claire began writing when her children were small. At first they were her test audience, but eventually even the youngest told her he could no longer be a first reader. Okay, so he was fifteen years old. But still. She takes a notebook wherever she goes, because ideas seldom appear when it is convenient. Sometimes an idea can take years to form into a story. Other times, a story will come almost fully formed. Mostly it takes years though, and sometimes the shortest text takes the longest time. When she received her first copy of her first picture book she was about to board a train. So she tucked it in her bag and read it to a child traveling with his grandmother. They had to speed-read the last page otherwise they would all have missed their station. Claire loves research, and has boxes and files full of information for each picture book project, some of which will never be used, but generally will sit in her head forever. (Do you know how long a koala’s appendix is? Claire does.) She have visited a private zoo in search of emu feathers, traded a copy of Big Red Kangaroo for two (empty) emu eggs, and for a history project she sat in the hold of ancient ship for way too long.
Three things you may not have guessed about Claire:
She wishes she had aqualungs and could swim underwater for hours, even if meant her fingers and toes wrinkled.
If she is cross, sad, hot, cold, restless, or bored all you have to do to make her happy is take her to a beach.
She once sat within two inches of a banded coral snake. TWO INCHES!