This week we chat with Australian author Jackie French AM in the #CommsCorner. As well as being the author of more than 200 books, Jackie is the patron of literacy programmes across Australia. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking for friends and family in her kitchen at the top of the gorge in the Araluen Valley.
Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
Author, honorary wombat (part time), passionate advocate for the power of story and the right of every child to read; Australian Children’s Laureate 2014-2015; Senior Australian of the Year 2015.
Tell us about your typical day as an author?
- Have coffee.
- Answer emails. Mutter at too many emails.
- Begin to write. Return to reality five hours later when husband yells ‘dinner time.’
- Feed wombats.
- Feed husband.
- Answer emails. Mutter.
- Speak sternly to wombats.
- Possibly wake at 4am and jot down note for next chapter.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I was three years old when I realised that books were created by humans, not picked from trees. (Though I am still hoping to find that Book Tree).
Who’s your communication hero/mentor?
Socrates, executed for encouraging the youth of ancient Athens to question everything.
Which tools can’t you live without?
My favourite cooking knife and wooden spoon; laptop; chainsaw (the road out of our place is long and tree strewn), iPad.
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
Sleep, and getting time for same. Answering 94 requests a day, most of which are heartbreaking.
Which communication campaign do you most admire?
The 1972 ‘It’s Time’ campaign. It sold a dream with no specifics whatsoever; yet the specifics were radical, utopian and thought out.
What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?
I am extremely old, ie pre television. Also I gave up watching TV entirely 46 years ago. I am not the best person to ask about communication changes in the past 50 years. Extremely good however if you want to talk about communication changes in the past five millenia.
What quality do you look for in your writing collaborators?
Integrity, perfectionist, imagination.
What’s your favourite brand?
What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?
The one that moves you most. Being honest about what you want to read tends to lead to honesty in your work.
What tips do you wish you’d known starting out as a writer?
Speak only the truth, and with passion or with laughter. Otherwise shut up.
Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’
The best communication is a story. Each physics breakthrough began with a story. Women were killed and no one listened, then Rosie Batty told a story. Find the story and you can twist the world.