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Open Right

Lorna Hendry


Lorna is an award-winning children’s author who has written and designed more than 17 science books, and co-wrote How to Win a Nobel Prize with Barry Marshall (who actually did win one), illustrated by Bernard Caleo. Read more about her Nobel Prize session with Bernard Caleo here. Lorna teaches writing and editing at RMIT University.

Where were you born?

I was born in Glasgow, in Scotland. My parents and I moved to Australia when I was 7. When I started school in Australia, no-one could understand my Scottish accent, so I stopped talking until I had mastered an Australian accent.

What other jobs have you had?

My very first job, when I was about 13, was handlettering signs for a very old man who ran a shoe repair store near my local train station. He was quite fierce and often made me redo the signs over and over again until they were perfect. Much later, when I became a graphic designer, I realised (a) that he had a very good eye and had taught me well and (b) that I was very glad that now we can do all that on a computer.

I did a science degree straight out of high school, but accidentally became a graphic designer when I was part of a collective that set up a youth magazine and we had to work out how to lay it out. In 2007, I ran away with my family to travel around Australia and worked as a shopkeeper in remote Indigenous communities in the Kimberley. Now I am a freelance writer, editor and designer, I teach at RMIT University and I write books for children about science, which just go to show that everything you learn comes in handy one day.

What themes are recurring in your work?

All my writing is aimed at using storytelling, activities and amazing pictures to show kids that science and maths are fascinating and fun (and sometimes even a little bit gross). In all my books, I try to relate even the most complex science (like genetics) directly to kids’ own experiences of their bodies, their families and the world around them.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Two of my books (The Gigantic Book of Genes and Left and Right) were CBCA Honour Books, which was really exciting, but I was once on a panel with Mal Leyland (from the Leyland Brothers) and I was so starstruck I could barely speak. I loved that show. I can still sing the song.

Where have your works been published?

How to Win a Nobel Prize was published in Australia by Black Inc and is also published in Poland, Turkey, UK, US, Hungary, Korea, China and Japan. All my non-fiction science books are published in Australia by Wild Dog Books and Penguins has been published in the US.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about making science accessible and fun to encourage as many kids as possible (particularly girls) to consider it as a career. Science is the only thing that is going to save this planet, and unfortunately it is the next generation that is going to have to work really hard and smart to do that.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Probably not! Unless you live in Fitzroy, because I’ve lived here for so long that when people think they know me I say “It’s just a Fitzroy thing” and they nod in agreement.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

My very first book was a travel memoir called Wrong Way Round about my family’s three-year trip around Australia in a camper trailer.

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