My Book Corner reviewer and good friend Leisa Stewart-Sharpe publishes her first book this week, and what a way to launch a career, by reimagining blockbuster nature series Blue Planet II for a whole new generation. And. Did you spot who’s penned the foreword? Yep, it’s non-other than Sir David Attenborough himself – what a legend.
But there was just one problem. . . Leisa and I have known each other for AGES, so when it came to interview time, I had no unanswered questions. What I needed was the REAL behind the scenes story. The making of an author.
What I needed. . .
. . . was to phone Leisa’s Australian mum.
* ring ring
* ring ring
Leisa’s Mum: Hu-llo. Hu-llo. Good grief, it’s the middle of the night!
Emma: [OOPS! I’d forgotten the time difference!]
Urm hello Mrs Stewart, it’s Emma Perry from My Book Corner, I was hoping to talk to you about Leisa?
Leisa’s Mum: Leis? What’s happened? She’s not lost in the woods again?
Emma: No, no, nothing to worry about. I just wanted to chat about her childhood in Australia. I’m not being nosy. Honest! But I AM intrigued. . . I bet there were plenty of animal encounters that helped make her the wonderful nature writer she is today?
Leisa’s Mum: Well, there was that one time with the goanna. Leis was 10, picnicking at the park with her cousins and this HUGE goanna charged from the leaves. Of all the children. . . it only had eyes for Leis. Her legs were a blur as she tried to outrun it. But Leis wasn’t a fast runner, so you have to think. . . it was a slow goanna.
Emma: [stifled giggle] How did she get away?
Leisa’s Mum: She only just made it, leaping up onto a picnic table. But we could never go back to that park. Besides, Leis preferred being on a boat to on land. I’ve just emailed you some photos Emma including one of her first boat.
Leis has always loved boats and the ocean. When she was older, she’d go snorkelling on the reef in a boat her grandpa made. But she got terribly seasick. Leis could get seasick in a bathtub.
Emma: Strong hat game! These are gold. Also. Leisa’s childhood sounds so exciting!
Leisa’s Mum: Hang on, I’ve got call waiting.
Tam, tam, I’ve got an English woman on the phone. She wants to talk about Leis.
Yep, I’ll put you on.
Emma – Leisa’s sister Tamie wants to talk.
Tamie: Hello Emma.
Emma: Ummmm. . .
Tamie: Did Mum tell you that at school Leisa’s stories scared the other kids. All her characters fell through trapdoors.
Emma: That’s brilliant! So, she liked a twist?
Tamie: Yep, she was twisted.
Leisa’s Mum: Stop it Tamie, you’re supposed to say nice things.
Tamie: Nice things.
Emma, did Leis tell you about the weird bee thing?
Leisa’s Mum: It’s not weird, it’s wonderful. When Leis was 9, she was President of the Beekeeper’s Club.
Tamie: She talked in bee puns for a year. BEEhave. BEEware. BEElieve. Nerd.
Leisa’s Mum: Emma – better make Tamie’s stuff off the record.
Emma: Ah! So that’s where her infamous puns started!
One last question Mrs Stewart, why do you think kids will love Blue Planet II?
Leisa’s Mum: When Leis writes she makes you laugh, cry, she really makes you care – a lot like those wonderful BBC Earth shows. Her love for the world shines through in her words. She wants to protect nature and is teaching her children to be respectful of it too – I think lots of kids could learn from her.
Emma: Ah, Mrs Stewart I think you are absolutely right. Thanks SO much for this interview and, urm, sorry to have woken you.
Leisa’s Mum: Hoo roo Emma – that’s how we say bye Down Under.
* Leisa’s Mum hangs up *
I’m still here.
Emma: I’m all ears Tamie, all ears. Spill. . .
…to be continued…!