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Fiery Frances thrills fans

Paula Xiberras
27.11.12 5:57 am

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Okay, the title is a bit of exaggerated alliteration but it’s fitting for an author that loves words and what they can do!


Frances Watt, the Prime Minister’s Literary Award winner, is on a busy tour of Tasmania in her role of national ambassador for and the ongoing celebration of the national year of reading. It seems fitting with such an Olympic effort that Frances is originally from Lausanne in Switzerland, a place that is the headquarters of the international Olympic committee and a literature loving city with 8 libraries!

Frances continues this tradition of a love of literature with her efforts to bringing the experience of reading to children around Australia and this week it’s Tasmania’s turn. When I spoke to Frances she says said she was keen on getting to Tasmania again, places like Cradle Mountain beckon but it’s also the food and wine that is a big draw-card!


On previous occasions Frances has visited schools in Hobart and Burnie but this time she is particularly excited to be going to Queenstown’s St Joseph’s Catholic School which is the overall Tasmanian winner of the ‘Are we there yet’  school writing competition. In a novel (pardon the pun) way, Frances will be the ‘prize’ as she explores storytelling by sitting down and reading stories with the whole school.


Although Frances is inspired to write by the places she has been to, an example being her home city of Lausanne’s evocative medieval architectures which is the inspiration for the castle her heroine Tomasina from her sword girl series lives in.


Frances is not averse to writing books with particular place references and she herself was inspired by a book that Patrick Gale wrote about Cornwall (which incidentally Gale himself compares most closely resembles the ‘wilder bits of Tasmania’) and on her visit to Cromwall and the places featured in the novel found herself amazed by the way Gale had captured the essence of the place.

Although Frances is inspired to write about particular places she often prefers not to make her books place specific thus allowing the reader to imagine the action could take place in their own city.


Frances tells me her new heroine Thomasina, or ‘Tommy,’ is adored by her male readers and she thinks this is because although Tommy is a match for any boy in the adventure stakes she hasn’t lost her gentle feminine side. There is also a magical touch to the stories with Tommy aided in her various adventures by a talking cat and talking swords.


Illustrations are an important part of Frances’ books especially, of course her picture books. Although she admits to not having a great deal of talent in illustrating she works closely with her illustrators and is generous in giving them some control of the illustrations and is usually surprised about how closely they meet her vision.


Frances wants to continue on writing a mixture of picture books and stories with complex ideas for older children and she is looking forward to the personal contact with readers that is part of her year as national ambassador.


Frances will be at the following locations and events during her Tasmanian tour.


Monday 26 November at 2pm
Special event with St Joseph’s Catholic School, Overall Tasmanian Winner of the “Are We There Yet” children’s writing competition (run by National Year of Reading). Frances is the “prize” for the school and will be storytelling with the whole primary school.
Venue: St Joseph’s Catholic School, 1 Pontifex Street, Queenstown. Cost: Free.

Tuesday 27 November at 9.30am
Special story time with Frances Watts for pre-schoolers and parents, and early primary children
Venue: Queenstown LINC, 9-13 Driffield St, Queenstown. Cost: Free. Bookings: (03) 6471 5960.



Tuesday 27 November at 2pm
Special story time with Frances Watts for pre-schoolers and parents, and early primary children
Venue: Glenorchy LINC, 4 Terry St, Glenorchy. Cost: Free. Bookings: (03) 6233 8663.

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