December 1, 2015
Writing The Wrong
Poppy Inkwell is one of those people who seems to have lived 1000 lives in one. Having immigrated to Australia from the Philippines as a toddler, it is Poppy’s appreciation for multiculturalism and love of literature that has seen her latest progression as a children’s author. Now living in Noosa, Poppy shares what lead her to Alana Oakley.
Although she admits that she has only skydived once, there is not a lot that Poppy Inkwell hasn’t embraced with vigour and passion.
Whether it is spending a year in Japan as an exchange student, an interpreter for a Japanese ultra-marathon runner or sharing her excitement for literacy through her Ready2Read program, Poppy is a woman who appreciates that she is the sum total of her experiences.
It is this passion for literacy and children as a mother of five that led her to writing the Alana Oakley series where she is able to open young people’s minds to the multiculturalism of the world around them.
Given the wealth of difference experiences she has had throughout the world, Poppy says it is only natural she has taken some of that to develop the characters in Alana Oakley.
“I am the person I am today because I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Campbelltown, went to a Catholic co-education school, was friends with the ‘nerds’, ‘jocks’, the ‘arty kids’ and all the kids in between at high school; did crazy, stupid things at university and lived and worked abroad for 15 years,” she says.
All children deserve to be visible in stories, but they also need to see themselves represented equally, not just as the means to communicate serious cultural, religious or political issues.”
“It’s these experiences that inform the content of the series, like the issues I write about and my writing style which is absurd.
“From my books I hope readers are in stitches from laughing but also experience a sense of empowerment, particularly girls who have a multicultural background or belong to a minority ethnic group.
“I want them to feel good about themselves and proud of their unique heritage.”
With three books so far in the series – Mystery and Mayhem, Torment and Trickery and the third Bloodlust and Blunders, to be released in early 2016, Alana is the story of a 12-year-old who, thanks to a slightly erratic mother, feels like she is going on 24.
Given the wealth of interesting characters in her books, Poppy says people have been particularly intrigued by their ethnic makeup, because diversity is a hot topic in kid’s literature these days.
“People have started to question if there’s enough diversity in the books we offer children,” she says.
“All children deserve to be visible in stories, but they also need to see themselves represented equally, not just as the means to communicate serious cultural, religious or political issues.
“We need books about diversity, as well as books that represent diversity, which makes me think that on both counts, we have some way to go.
“Children are much more accepting of a multicultural society now and I believe by focusing on what we have in common, and respecting our differences, we can continue to foster greater tolerance and understanding.”