Ask a Children’s Author series – Ali Stegert

Dear Friends and lovers of books, I have returned after several months of non-blogging to start back with a new series about children’s authors, those enthusiastic, curious writers who love to share their stories with a young audience. Words, ideas and a place to write help motivate the authors as they jot down, scribble, plan, draft and constantly edit and polish their work.

My first guest author is the talented Alison Stegert who lives on the Sunshine Coast with her supportive husband Paul and two adorable dogs called Fink and Huckleberry. Ali states clearly on her website, “I want kids to fall in love with reading.” Her recent picture book, Boogie Woogie Bird, 2022, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini, shows a clumsy Curlew that can’t find his groove, until the right bird comes along. Magic, funny and begging to be read aloud. Congratulations Ali who has the loveliest smile.

As keen as ever, I sent Ali some questions to answer. Here they are and I hope you enjoy the insight into the mind and heart of this exuberant lady.

1    What makes a story shine for you? Where does your inspiration come from?

I love a story that rings with familiarity and sings with freshness of perspective. I particularly appreciate stories that have an organic, magical feel rather than a deliberate message or a preachy tone. 

My inspiration often comes from word play. Silly puns or a clever juxtaposition of words get me thinking. I also enjoy 19th century history and imagining the challenges young people faced in those times.

2    What have you learnt about yourself as a writer for children?

Pushing a story isn’t helpful. It’s best to let the magic happen. Most of my stories have spent years incubating in a folder or notebook.

3    Your latest Middle-Grade book is to be published by Chicken House in 2023. Tell us in 3 words the attraction. What is the story about?

Three Words: Victorian Girl Genius

The Remarkables:

Aspiring engineer Winifred Weatherby dreams of exhibiting her Very Promising Invention at the 1889 Paris World Fair, but her hopes are dashed when her father vanishes and she’s recruited as gadget inventress and spy for Queen Victoria’s secret League of Remarkable Young Ladies. Can she find Papa, serve the cranky Queen, and make it to Paris in time?

4    Why do you write?

I write to delight, and my highest aim is to foster a love of reading in children.

5    Where do you find the most relaxing place to write? Why?

My study. My desk is situated in a nook under a staircase, much like Harry Potter’s bedroom at the Dursley’s. It’s a hideaway and mostly quiet—other than the rumble of dogs snoring. 

   Do you have any favourite words? A famous book from childhood?

I love the word serendipity. My favourite book from childhood was The Secret Garden

7.   What’s your most preferred social media platform and why?

I like Twitter because it’s easy to dip in and out of, and the writing community is warm and supportive.

8.   If you could dream up another job or career for yourself, what would it be? Is there a character in a book you most envy? Why?

If I had to work all over again, I’d be either a speech pathologist or an occupational therapist. 

As for characters I envy, I love Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle. She lived in a castle with a moat, and although she doesn’t make it sound very romantic with leaks and draughts, I still love the idea of it.

9   Remembering back to your childhood, what were your best birthday gifts?

My aunt gave me a pair of tiny stuffed mice toys, a bride and groom, and I had a ball playing with them. I built them a house out of a discarded wine crate and furnished it with bits and bobs—spools of thread and thimbles like The Borrowers. I was big into imaginative play.

The other gift that stands out was from my mother’s best friend, who upon learning of my dream of writing books, gave me a How To Type manual, because “Writers must know how to type.”

Author, Alison Stegert, Qld based kid lit author, freelance writer and SCWBI president.

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4 Comments


Ali
April 28, 2022 at 1:15 am
Reply

Hi Marg,
Thank you for sharing this lovely post on your beautiful website! It’s a real honour! I hope one day you’ll add your answers to these questions in the Ask a Children’s Author Series.
Best,
Ali Stegert


    M.J. Gibbs
    April 28, 2022 at 3:04 am
    Reply

    Thanks, Ali who with your art journals, inspires me as a friend and writer. Marg

    Cassie Mcdonald
    April 29, 2022 at 1:27 am
    Reply

    Loved this little insight into Alison’s writing world. As a lover of magical stories myself I cannot wait to purchase one of her books and explore it with my girls.
    Thanks for a great little read Marg and Alison!
    Cassie

      M.J. Gibbs
      April 29, 2022 at 3:59 am

      Keep writing Cassie. Ali’s new picture book is delightful and the girls can boogie along.

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