Penni Russon is an intelligent literary author for young people with a Masters in Creative Writing. She has worked as an online editor and in book publishing, and in teaching creative writing at university.
I was born in Hobart, Tasmania and grew up in a developing bush suburb, with a lot of freedom to explore. The surrounding bushland, streetscapes and historic artefacts became intrinsically tied to my imaginative life, and as a result I have always had trouble working out where the real world begins and ends.
After high school I took some time off study and worked in a child care centre, where I discovered a true and lasting love of children and a true and lasting hatred of full time employment. Babysitting took me through university where I studied Classics and Archaeology and then someone became a writer and editor instead.
Growing up in Tasmania, conscious of the islanded nature of my existence, the sea recurs in my work, and I notice I am often quite ambivalent about it. It is simulataneously a source of power and terror, possibility and restriction. I also often have young children in my novels – although I write for older audiences, I am fascinated by what we learn about ourselves and the world from children, in particular the way a child’s observation can throw the nature of reality into question. As a writer who is driven by the beauty (and treachory) of words, I find I write a lot about language and words and ideas, and the philosophies that lurk beneath the surface of language. I am fascinated by the relationship between the body and language and many of my novels look at a young woman coming into her power.
I am passionate about freedom, independence, truth-telling. Raising kids who can think for and trust themselves. I really hate advertising, the way that advertising works to erode self-esteem and happiness and then promise some facile thing to repair this damage – I no longer watch commercial television. I want to help kids to critique the world they live in and all the texts they encounter (whether it be newspapers and books or screens, whether it’s a 140 character tweet or an ad for toothpaste, an sms from a friend, or even the contents of their own mantelpiece), and more importantly to be able to deconstruct something without being left with a fragmented world – I want kids to find their own meaning in the world through understanding the story-making they engage in every day. I also passionately believe that the world is a beautiful mysterious treasure of a place and that most people are good, kind and honest, even if sometimes they behave badly. That’s why there are no ‘villains’ in my novels, only complex characters with personal histories motivating their actions.