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Maureen McCarthy


Maureen McCarthy is one of Australia’s best loved writer’s for Young Adults. Her novels are full of gutsy and believable characters caught at the cusp of adulthood – a time when so much is changing and being decided. Her strong storylines celebrate the complexity of contemporary life with honesty and humor.

Where were you born?

I grew up on a farm in country Victoria (near Yea) The ninth of ten kids, I rode a horse to school for the first seven years (and managed to live without television!) The next six years of secondary schooling was spent at a large Convent boarding school in the city… uniforms, nuns in all the flowing garb and classes of fifty. Talk about culture shock. I don’t think I knew where I was for about three years!

What other jobs have you had?

When I left school at seventeen Art was my thing. So I trained to be an Art Teacher but only stuck at it for a couple of years. My way into writing novels was through script writing. I wrote a couple of shows for television and that experience made me realise that books have always been my first love!

What themes are recurring in your work?

My books are set in contemporary Australia and I suppose Love and Relationships are my big themes, along with Family intrigue! But my characters never only operate within a narrow framework of ‘teen’ issues. I’m deeply interested in the wider social and political sphere and so it seems only natural to me that my characters will be caught up in all kinds of different current conflicts and dilemmas.

What have been the highlights of your career?

When “Queen kat Carmel and St Jude” was made into a Television series for the ABC. Not only did it give a big lift to the sales (which were already pretty good) it was simply so exciting to have so many people working so hard to bring my story and characters to life. What a buzz! And then when it showed on Sunday night all over Australia (and parts of England) Wow!

Where have your works been published?

I’ve written a couple of short pieces for ‘The Age” One was for the Premier’s Read-a-Thon challenge and the other was for ‘a character in history piece. All my novels have been published in Germany. “Rose by Any Other name” was published in the U.S as well and Flash Jack was published in Italy and actually was reprinted a few times there!

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about Reading! Of course I love movies but … reckon that books store are the best (and probably the worst!) of what our culture has to offer. I.e. they offer a depth of understanding that it is hard to beat. I love the way I learn without being ‘taught’ in a formal or didactic way. Books are powerful. I’m passionate about the role of librarians in schools. Reading helped me through desperate times when I was a lonely, confused adolescent hellbent on her own negativity and … it still does! It’s better than any drug, it takes me places I wouldn’t otherwise go and lets me live.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have begun an historical novel that I feel really passionate about (in a way that I haven’t felt for ages with my writing) It’s fiction but I’m using my mother’s experience growing up in a huge Convent, without a family.

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