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Dr Jodi McAlister recently answered my questions about her move to Tasmania and her book ‘Valentine’, the first in the series of fantasy Young Adult (YA) fiction.

At the time of the questions, Jodie had been living in Tasmania for about eighteen months and working at the University of Tasmania

Jodi says that she has no regrets of the move especially as it has enhanced her life as a writer.

“Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I look out my window at Mt Wellington looming mysteriously over the Derwent, and suddenly I’m not so uninspired any more….”

Always drawn to fairy tales Jodi said her decision to write in the fantasy genre was the duality of ‘woods’, for Jodi they represented both danger and potential liberation. For instance for Red Riding Hood, the wolf in the woods spells danger but for Snow White escaping into the woods meant liberation from the evil queen.

Jodi says there are connections that can be made between the mysterious woods of fairy tales and the mysterious stories of the Australian bush like Picnic at Hanging Rock. Jodi says

“to write a book that had that uniquely Australian sense of the menacing landscape, and using fairies and drawing on fairy tales, which are so full of the woods, felt like a natural fit.”

Jodi always dreamt of both publishing a novel by the time she was 35 and achieving a PhD before she was 30 years old. With both dreams now achieved Jodi jokes it’s time’ to set some new career goals’ for herself including the future instalments of her book series.

In the meantime Jodi is delighted by the reaction to ‘Valentine’ including the following nod to urban culture:

“By far the most frequent comment I’ve had on this book is, “OMG! You mention Fruity Lexia on page 2!” Who knew that terrible cheap cask wine was so beloved my so many people.”

Valentine is out now published by Penguin Random House.