Words on a Limb Interviews Pollyanna Darling

Pollyanna Darling began writing short stories, cartoon strips and poetry at age four and has a passionate love of high quality literature for children and young adults. She has four boisterous children (all boys) and lives on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Back in the mists of time, Pollyanna was vigorously dissuaded from writing by a well-meaning careers officer. She dabbled in diverse and curious jobs before deciding that writing had her by the heart and wasn’t going to let go. Her intuitive life coaching work led to the publication of her first book in 2011, a self-help guide for adults: The Relationship Revelation, which won gold in the the Living Now Book Awards (USA) in 2012.

Pollyanna has since discovered that writing for children offers many opportunities for fun, mischief and magic. After a two year creative process with Victorian artist Kirsty Chalmers, she completed and published Heartwood (2013): a hand-illustrated, first chapter book for kids who are beginning to read independently.

Words on a Limb had a chance to sit with Pollyanna and learn her story.

About writing …

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I learned to read at 2 years old as my mother was very passionate about education. By the time I turned 9, I’d read all the children’s books I could lay my hands on, and began on the walls of adult books that lined our house. I have loved words for as long as I can remember – their power to hurt, to heal, to ignite imagination, to take the reader deep. I began creating poetry, short stories and
cartoon strips as soon as I could write. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer, but I was talked out of it by a well-meaning careers officer – too many writers, can’t make a living etc etc. I know now (regardless of income), that if you ignore the internal drive to create, life becomes flat and meaningless.

What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
As a child I loved the Narnia series and I devoured ghost stories, but I distinctly remember discovering Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, a book I sneaked from the shelf when I was 12. In those startling pages I found the edgy, fascinating world of feminist literature. My own writing has been influenced both by the heroic hope of the great children’s writers and the holistic world view of feminist writers. I also love the majestic Russian story-tellers (like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky) and the magical realism of Marquez and others.

When and where do you prefer to write?
As a mother of four, time can be a scarce commodity, so I seize the opportunities that arise. I have learned to be self-disciplined around this, it’s too easy to fritter away the time I could spend writing. If a couple of hours loom, I jump on them! My favourite place to write is my bed, but I feel wickedly indulgent doing that, so move around the house – my office, a table on the verandah gazing out at cows, or a cafe in town.
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