Children's FAQ | Freelance Writer

My name is Philippa Werry and I'm a writer. I'm lucky enough to live in the beautiful country of New Zealand, and the wonderful city of Wellington.

The photograph at the top of this page is taken from the deck of our house. On a fine day, you can see the whole city laid out below you. On other days, the rain pelts down and wind batters the windows. Sometimes the fog comes down, so you can't even see the houses opposite.

On Guy Fawkes night, you get a grandstand view of the fireworks display over the harbour. You can see the stadium lit up for football or rugby matches, or hear the roar of the crowd when a player gets caught out during a cricket test at the Basin Reserve.

Wellington features in a lot of my writing.

When I write plays and poems, I often have a particular place in mind. Communication breakdown and Superhero to the rescue are set in our local school playground. Stop that punctuation and At the bus stop are set at the local shops. Super sleuth Sal is obviously set in Wellington, café capital of the world! (So is the poem Storm in a teacup.) My friend the wind is about another thing Wellington is famous for.

Some of my books and stories feature Wellington as well. Enemy at the Gate is set in Lyall Bay.

The best skateboarder in school wouldn't be a story without Wellington's hills. Saying goodbye is set amongst the Italian community of Island Bay. Stopping for Charlie describes a cross-country race through the pine trees of the Town Belt.

Sometimes people say to me, "You must spend all your time looking out the window. How do you get any writing done?"

If you want to know more about me or my writing, have a look at the Children's FAQs below or A Writer's Journey.

Children's FAQ

Here are a few questions I sometimes get asked on school visits.
Where do you live?

In a hilltop house overlooking the harbour in Wellington.

Why do you like writing?

It's amazing to be able to create something that didn't exist before, and that nobody else could have created in quite the same way.

What's your favourite kind of writing?

I do all sorts of writing - stories, poems, plays and articles - and I like them all.

How do you get inspiration?

You have to be on the lookout for ideas. Once you get into the habit of looking for them, you find them all over the place.

Do you do the illustrations?

No! The publisher will ask someone to do the illustrations. Usually I don't even meet the illustrator.

How long does it take to write a book?

It can take a long time. For Enemy at the gate, I had to do months of research, finding out about polio, and about what life was like in New Zealand back in the 1930s, before I even started the actual writing.

How many books have you written?

I don't know! I've written at least 40 books that go into schools, here and overseas, as well as longer children's novels. I've also written more than 70 stories, poems, plays and articles for the School Journal and other magazines.

How old were you when you started writing?

I had my first story published in the paper when I was six. Look at A writer's journey to find out more.

Who is your favourite author?

My all-time favourite author is Jane Austen and my favourite of her books used to be Pride and prejudice (which has been made into lots of movies) but now it's Persuasion, with P & P a close second. I also like reading novels, poetry, books about science and biographies of other writers.

What kind of books did you read when you were a child?

Lots of folk tales and fairy stories. All the classics like The wind in the willows, Heidi, Alice in Wonderland, The railway children, Charlotte sometimes, The silver sword and the Narnia books. When I was growing up there weren't a lot of NZ children's books published so most of the ones I read were set in England or America.

What writing awards have you received?

In 2006 I won the Jack Lasenby award, which is a writing competition for people who live in Wellington. The lost watch was shortlisted in 2004 for the Queensland children's choice Bilby award. Enemy at the gate was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards in 2009.

What is the best thing that has happened in your writing career?

Being shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Awards is pretty exciting! It's also very exciting when a new book gets published, and you have a book launch to celebrate. The best thing is when people tell you they have read your book and enjoyed it.

Want to know more?

You can look here:
New Zealand Book Council
Christchurch City Libraries