[DWJ] Introductions

Judith Ridge judith_ridge at netspace.net.au
Tue Jun 19 06:05:00 EDT 2007

My turn.

I'm Judith, aka Judy, Jude and Ju Ju (readers of "Seven Little Australians"
will understand), 43, born 19 January along with Edgar Allen Poe, Janis
Joplin, Johnny O'Keefe (Aussie rocker), Dolly Parton and Nina Bawden.

The first DWJ I read was The Eight Days of Luke, but it didn't make much of
an impression. Then I read The Magicians of Caprona, which changed my life.
I read both these books when I was first enrolled in the MA in children's
lit at Macquarie University, and when I read Magicians, I felt like I was 11
years old again. I hadn't lost myself in a book like that since I was a
child, and it made me decide that I wanted to work somehow or other in the
children's book field. So I quit teaching (I was a high school English
teacher) and began working for the Children's Book Council (CBC‹a voluntary
organisation) and met lots of people in the industry and ended up getting a
job as an (small e) editor at The School Magazine, which is a 91 year old
literary magazine for primary school aged children which I had read myself
as a kid. (Published by the Department of Education in NSW.) One reason I
got the job at The School Magazine was because the capital E Editor at the
time, my beloved ex-boss Jonathan Shaw, was also a DWJ fan.

Worked at School Mag for three years, while continuing to run programs for
young readers for the CBC and freelance writing about and reviewing
children¹s and YA lit. Also worked part-time for a year at Nutcote, the
(museum) home of May Gibbs, a seminal Aussie children¹s author/illustrator.
Was a judge on the 1995 NSW Premier¹s Literary Awards‹we awarded the
children¹s (YA) award to Ika¹s girlfriend Jenny P for ³Mr Enigmatic². Got
head-hunted for a job at a commercial publisher, then went hippy for a year
(ha!) and moved to the north coast of NSW and worked on the Byron Bay
Writer¹s Festival. Hope never ever ever to work for a committee-run
organisation ever ever again.

Came back to Sydney and worked for two years on a national creative writing
program for kids in Years (grades) 5 and 6. Was awarded a Churchill
Fellowship and went to the USA, Ireland and UK for 4 months. Returned home
unemployed and, apparently, unemployable! Worked in a children¹s bookshop
and as a casual (supply) teacher, had four miserable months assessing
training packages for TAFE (tech ed) in Canberra, and then returned to The
School Magazine.

Inspired by my beloved ex-boss Jonathan Shaw I started a blog.

Re-enrolled to finish my MA. My first thesis topic (back in the early
90s‹abandoned due to a most inconvenient divorce) was on concepts of time in
DWJ‹Chrestomanci and Time City and Time of the Ghost. (Didn¹t actually know
what I was talking about, alas.) Second thesis topic was Cynthia Voigt¹s
³Bad Girls² books. Third thesis topic was masculinity in Australian YA
fiction. Bored stupid at the very idea, I finally settled on fairy tale
retellings, focusing on feminist criticism of the fairy tale, narrative
theory and books by Donna Jo Napoli. More on that anon.

Beloved ex-boss Jonathan Shaw retired in September 2005. I was acting
(Capital A, Capital A, Capital E) Acting Assistant Editor for 18 months,
until the (Capital E) Editor¹s position was advertised. I applied, and was
passed over for an external applicant, the least said about which the
better. Suffice to say: Not Happy. Very Not Happy. Began looking elsewhere,
and was remarkably lucky to be offered an internal transfer to work as a
journalist on the Department of Education¹s staff newspaper. Have been there
three weeks and am really enjoying it. I¹m writing stories about fabulous
things happening in public schools, which as an ex-schoolie, is very
satisfying. I also teach a regular five week course in writing for children
at the Sydney Writers Centre.

Yesterday I submitted my MA thesis, 17 years after I first enrolled! It¹s
the first submission‹one chapter sucks remarkably and needs extensive
re-writing, but The End Is Nigh. I¹m also about to get back into reviewing
after a  bit of a hiatus, and very soon I will be able to merely read for
pleasure. Bliss!

I am actually not much of a fantasy reader. I tried Bujold because of this
list but it didn¹t take. I seem to have a sort of obsession with stories (in
various media) about American teenagehood‹I¹m a major Buffy the Vampire
Slayer fan, for instance. The sort of fantasy I really like is what I like
to think of as English ³drawing room² fantasy‹domestic fantasies, like the
Chrestomanci books.

My Significant Other is an ancient cat called Bridie (born on Evelyn Waugh¹s
birthday in 1989). I eat too much cheese. I am Auntie to seven and, I fear
will be Great Auntie far too soon.

DWJers I have met: Ika, Deborah, SallyO. And I¹ve met DWJ herself, in 1992,
when she was here on her ill-fated (and only) trip to Australia (she did her
back in on the long flight, which I believe lead to her broken neck...).
Interview, conducted over dinner and several bottles of red wine, available
on my website.

C¹est moi!



Judith Ridge
PO Box 1476
Ashfield NSW 1800

0412 529 694

My blog: http://www.misrule.com.au/s9y/
My website: http://www.misrule.com.au


Gin isn¹t really a drink. It¹s more of a mascara thinner.

Dylan Moran


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