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The secrets behind Jackie French's books

19 Aug, 2019

Did you know the swaggie in Waltzing Matilda was innocent or that the 1936 abdication was a conspiracy?

Celebrated author Jackie French will cover this and more during her Wodonga author talk at The Cube Wodonga on Wednesday, August 21.

Fans of her popular children's books such as Diary of a Wombat can rejoice because there will also be a special children's author talk event on Thursday, August 22 at 10.30am.

Wodonga Council caught up with French ahead of her visit.

We discovered French's love of wombats goes back to the day she struck up an unusual friendship with one. 

"I was 21 and came across a wombat who wanted to be a friend - it was his call, not mine," she said.

"I used to have breakfast outside the shed and he came and joined me. He made it very clear that after we knew each other for a while that he wanted me to follow him and he showed me things in the valley.

"In retrospect it was a very strange friendship but I was too young to really know how unusual it was."

Living in a conservation area next to a national park meant there were always wombats coming and going, explained French.

Some years later, French's son formed a similar friendship with another wild wombat.

"My son was about three years old when I woke one morning to find an enormous full grown wombat in his bedroom and he was feeding it a carrot," she said.

"The wombat looked a bit puzzled as though to say I am not too sure what this is about, but I like it.

"I really needed a lot of convincing that the wombat needed to live in a hole outside and not in my son's bedroom."

French explained that her son's pet wombat, Chocolate, wasn't terribly friendly with her.

"He was purely my son's friend and not mine," she said.

"They would play games together and go on adventures.

"They would play this one game where Chocolate would roll my son down a hill and then it was Chocolate's turn to roll down the hill, but wombats don't roll very well so it didn't work."

It's easy to see where French drew her inspiration from for her children's book series on wombats and other animals.

Aside from her children's picture books, French has a passion for writing about historical fiction for a teenage audience.

Some of these books include Hitler's Daughter, A Rose for the ANZAC Boys and A Waltz for Matilda (The story behind Banjo Paterson's iconic Australian song).

French has published more than 200 books that cross all age groups and genres.

Come along to one of French's Wodonga author talks to hear about 'the real story' behind her books.