Jackie French

Jackie French


Jackie French and her husband Bryan live in the Araluen valley, a deep valley on the edge of the Deua wilderness area, in a stone house they built themselves , with a home made waterwheel as well as solar panels to power their house (and computers). Their garden rambles over about 4 hectares, with roses dripping from the trees, 800 fruit trees, and about 270 different kinds of fruit (not counting 125 varieties of apple) , so there is never a time when there aren’t basketsfull of fruit to pick. Jackie also describes herself as a ‘wombat negotiator’ and has spent three decades studying the wombats in her valley.

Jackie’s writing career spans 17 years, 48 wombats, 132 books, 23 languages, 3,721 bush rats, over 50 awards in Australia and overseas, 6 possibly insane lyrebirds, assorted ‘Burke’s Backyard’ segments, radio shows, newspaper and magazine columns, theories of pest and weed ecology and 27 shredded back doormats. The doormats are the victims of the wombats who require constant appeasement in the form of carrots, rolled oats and wombat nuts, which is one of the reasons for her prolific output: it pays the carrot bills.

Jackie wrote her first children’s book `Rainstones’ in a desperate attempt to earn $106.40 to register her car, while living in a shed with a wallaby called Fred, a black snake called Gladys and a wombat called Smudge. It was described by the editor at HarperCollins as the messiest, worst spelt manuscript they’d ever received.

The messiest was due to Smudge the wombat who left his droppings on the typewriter every night; the spelling was due to the fact she is dyslexic. She recommends all beginning writers to mispell their first book with a wombat damaged typewriter - at least that way it stands out of the pile!

The book was accepted (also shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award and CBC Younger Reader’s Book of the Year). In the same fortnight she was offered a regular column in a newspaper and a farming magazine and discovered that writing about flowers and fantasy was a heck of a lot easier than hauling manure in the old green truck to feed the peach trees. She has been a full time writer and wombat negotiator ever since.

See more recipes and about my books on my website Jackie French