Before there were books, there were stories…
I’m a storyteller in the old fashioned sense of the word. I work in the oral tradition and many of the stories I tell are very old. I visit kindergartens, schools, museums, galleries, libraries and festivals. Occasionally I travel to regional Victorian towns and interstate. I have story and workshop programs for all ages. I am the current President of Storytelling Australia Victoria, an organisation devoted to nurturing and supporting oral storytellers.
The stories I tell
I tell stories from Kazakhstan, North America, France, Germany, England, Turkey, Jamaica … and more. I tell nursery rhymes, finger rhymes and string stories. I recite verse and sometimes I sing.
Raised in the south east corner of Australia, I have stories in my veins about gold, emigrants, bushrangers, whaling and Australia’s most famous racehorse … I use the techniques employed by traditional storytellers for centuries: rhyme, rhythm, and cumulative patterns that invite interaction and repetition.
How I became a storyteller
I'm a perpetual student of the oral tradition. In recent times, with the company of colleagues, I've enjoyed exploring The Mahabharata, The Canterbury Tales and The Mabinogion.
The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) listed my first picture book, Phar Lap the wonder horse, illustrated by Patricia Mullins and published by Museum Victoria in 2008, as Notable in 2009. If you are interested in the history and process behind the publication of this beautiful book see my articles page.
Lyrebird! a true story, illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe and published by Museum Victoria followed in 2012 to great acclaim.
After years of working with folk tales I discovered an ability to write short stories. The structures, heart and magic of the old tales unlocked a pathway into an imaginative world. Sitting at my keyboard, a mysterious muse occasionally visits me, and whispers humorous, dark, joyous and sometimes poignant stories into my ear. Several of my stories have won awards and been published. Some have been anthologised, see publications.
I live in Melbourne; my city is cosmopolitan; my outlook is global. Aboriginal Australians mapped this continent with stories and songs long ago. This is a country with a population of migrant people, still carrying and sharing stories from their places of origin. But I’m a fifth generation born Australian coming from an Irish, Scots, and Welsh heritage – places rich with oral storytelling traditions.
Although I delve freely into the vast body of folk tale material, that is my heritage, and feel some sense of ownership, my relationship with the landscapes and mindscapes that nurtured these tales has been fractured. A good thing about being in this position is that I don’t feel the need to position my interests with a particular linguistic or cultural group. I am always respectful of cultural property and contemporary sensibilities.
- Port Fairy Festival: Pat Glover Memorial Storytelling Award 2002, 2007, 2009.
- Woodford Festival: Spirit of Woodford Original Stories and Yarns Performance Award 2007, 2012.
- Ada Cambridge (First) 2009.
- Williamstown Literary Festival 2000 Ada Cambridge (Highly Commended) 2006.
- Williamstown Community Aid Abroad (first) 2001
- Williamstown Literary Festival People’s Choice (Runner-up) 2006.
- Greater Dandenong Short Story Competition (Commended) 1999
- Eve Pownall Children’s Book Council of Australia (Notable) non fiction picture book 2009
- Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Honour Book (Children's Book Council of Australia) 2013
- Whitley Awards of the Royal Zoological Society NSW Certificate of Commendation for Children's Story 2013