Katie Furze is a children’s author from Aotearoa, New Zealand. She writes picture books, short stories, articles, plays, early readers, and novels.
Her debut picture book, Tuatara, A Living Treasure is the first in a series created with illustrator Ned Barraud and publisher Scholastic NZ. You can also read her work in The School Magazine in Australia.
Katie has a master’s degree in creative writing and enjoys hiking, yoga, gardening, and cooking. She also loves travelling and scuba diving. Visit Katie’s website to learn more about her and her work.
1. What three things bring you joy?
I’m a simple soul: nature, children, and books are the things in life that bring me joy. My job combines all three … how lucky am I?!
2. How do you know your idea will make a good book?
When I first have an idea it comes with a tingle of excitement. If that tingle is still there as I research the topic and start drafting the story, then I know I’ve found something that will make a good book. Sometimes the excitement grows – that is an even better sign! Unfortunately, not every idea has wings. Now and then my research uncovers something that turns me off the topic, and sometimes I just can’t get the story to work.
3. What are you working on? What’s next for you?
I am very excited to report I have another non-fiction picture book about a very special animal on the way with Ned Barraud and Scholastic NZ and plans for a series are underway. Besides that, I’m always working on new stories and articles for The School Magazine and one or two longer projects. As you can probably tell, I like to keep myself busy and write lots of different things!
4. Where did you get the idea for Tuatara? What was your inspiration?
Recent scientific research tells us tuatara are even more unusual and special than previously thought. As I started working on the book, the more I found out about tuatara, the more excited I became, because they are simply incredible creatures that are different to any other animals alive today! I wanted to share this knowledge with young people, and at the same time help tuatara, by writing a picture book that would bring them to the attention of a wide audience.
5. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing/researching this book?
In the case of Tuatara, the biggest challenge was working out which fascinating facts to leave out! It took many drafts and suggestions from my critique partners to cut the manuscript down to the juiciest and most interesting bits. Then, my wonderful editor helped me to reduce the number of fact boxes and decide which information to move to the back matter.
6. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
A tuatara is not a lizard! They belong to a completely separate group of reptiles that were found all over the world back in the time of the dinosaurs. Tuatara are the only living member of the reptile order rhynochocephalia – all other rhyncochephalians are extinct – and this is what makes tuatara so special!
Note: Tuatara is a Māori word that means ‘spiny-backed’. The plural of tuatara is the same as the singular – because it is a Māori word it is incorrect to put an ‘s’ on the end.