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Kate Gordon talks wild and curious minds for Book Week 2020

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Kate Gordon hails from Tasmania and has lived a bookish and writerly life. She is the creator of children and young adult fiction and her books include picture books and novels. Her latest work The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn is a beautiful work that has been described as ‘haunting’ and ‘exquisite’.

Kate joins us at the end of CBCA Book Week 2020 to talk about how reading makes minds wild and curious and that moments of joy can always be found.

What does this year’s CBCA Book Week theme Curious Creatures, Wild Minds mean to you?

It makes me think of my kid, who believes in her own imaginary world entirely, and always has. She’s always been a reader, and I really believe that has expanded her capacity to imagine herself in other places, in other bodies – and even, often, as a different sort of creature. Reading has also made her intensely curious about the world and I love that, if she doesn’t know something, she will always say, “Let’s look it up in a book.” Reading makes minds wild and curious and that’s exactly what we need in this new generation.

Name your favourite curious creature – either one you’ve created or read about. What do you love about them?

In the “real” world, I am fascinated by crows. They are fiercely intelligent creatures. They are curious, have amazing memories and even solve mysteries! They hold funerals for their dead and they bravely fight off much larger predators. If I could be any creature, it would be a crow.

In the “imaginary” world, I am all about shape shifters. I grew up reading Tamora Pierce and longed to be like Veralidaine Sarrasri, who could transform into animals. I wished it so hard. I still, to be honest, wish for it!

How will you be celebrating CBCA Book Week this October?

It will be a much quieter experience this year, so I’m going to take the opportunity to just celebrate the beautiful books by the Australian writing community – I’ll buy some for my kid (and some for myself), and read and rejoice in all the talent we have here. We are so lucky!


We asked Kate to tell us a little more about herself!


Describe yourself in a sentence.

A dark, quiet little human who eats far too many biscuits.

What do you love most about writing for children?

I love that children are unashamedly excited and enthusiastic. They haven’t been taught, yet, that it’s “cool” to seem disinterested. I still haven’t learned that art, either, so I love sharing in their joy and hopefulness.

2020 has been a year of much change and uncertainty – can you tell us abit about what the year has held for you in terms of your creativity and work? 

It’s been an anxious year, and very hard for so many people. I have enormous privilege – my husband kept his job, we had a warm, safe roof over our heads and we live in a beautiful place. I hate that so many people have struggled and suffered and lost people. It’s unfathomably sad. But, amongst the sadness, I found so many moments of joy, this year. The main thing that got me through was spending more time with my daughter. She’s growing up so quickly and it felt like such a beautiful, unexpected gift to get to spend so much concentrated time with her. I wish we could do it all over again, without the shadow of a pandemic hanging over us. Creatively, this year has been much quieter, but that was okay, too. To have that time with my kid was worth the trade-off. I do hope for a much brighter 2021, though, where we can carry the things we have learned into a more gentle world.

To learn more about Kate Gordon, visit her website.