Is ‘How to Bee’ inspired by your life on the farms?
B: It is! I wanted to write futuristic fiction because I love that, but I also wanted to incorporate myself and my own life into it, and it turns out there's this raw honesty in this story and that makes it special.
What made you want to write children’s fictional novels?
B: Because children are the best audiences and the best readers and I remember how powerless I felt when I was a kid. Gabrielle Wang and I joke that we are repairing our adult selves by writing about powerless kids who take control.
Out of all of your books, which did you enjoy writing the most?
B: How to Bee, is my favourite because Peony grabbed hold and took over. She was the boss of this story and I just let her tell it. It was like a wild ride for me writing it, and I hope for the reader too.
Where did the idea of Peony come from?
B: I think Peony is in all of us. She's that confident person with perfect values who doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks. She knows what is right and good and she will defend that with everything she has. She is the best of us.
If you could give one bit of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be and why?
B: Be honest. Your voice is your voice and it's real and worthwhile and you don't need to write like anyone else. Be honest about the world around you too, and have fun. If you are having fun with what you write, the reader will too.
You have travelled so much, do you think this has influenced your work?
B: Travelling involves taking only what you need to survive, and discovering new things, and new ways of living, and meeting new people which is definitely useful in writing.
What is your favourite novel?
B: Just one? How do I choose just one? You know this is impossible. I'll narrow it down to three books for young people maybe. Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard, We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo, and Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, oh, and Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna, oh, and the Curious Incident of the Dog... wait... come back, I'll stop!
‘How to Bee’ has already been shortlisted for several amazing awards, which award would you most like to win and why?
B: I'm so happy with any award or any shortlist. When it comes to awards it's best to just let the awards people do what they do, and try not to get caught up in hopes and dreams of awards. There are too many great books overlooked each year, and any time my book is noticed and people say nice things, and give out awards and maybe even money, that is a huge win for me.