Name: Dorothy Butler
Date of birth: 24 April 1925
Place of birth: Grey Lynn, Auckland
Now living in: Kare Kare, Waitakere City, Auckland
- What is your favourite food?
- Any dessert made with apples (preferably with cream!)
- Do you have a nickname and if so what is it?
- I was always called ‘Curly’ at school because of my hair, and my eldest friends — dating back to 1939 at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, still call me ‘Curly’.
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
- Some years ago I was involved in making some ‘video’ books for children. In one video, I was meant to be reading to children on a plane. As the cameras started rolling, I leaned back — and my seat fell over backwards! The children on either side stayed upright, and were most alarmed. Everyone shrieked with laughter, and the cameraman played it back. It was hilarious!
- How do you relax?
- Reading (to myself, and aloud to grandchildren) gardening and walking with my dog Martha on our wonderful, wild beach.
- Who inspired you when you were little?
- My mother, who told us engrossing tales of her childhood in Thames; my grandmother who lived with us and told us tales of coming to New Zealand in a sailing ship; my father, who was funny (and not strict) and a few teachers.
- What were you like at school?
- I learned to read very easily, but was very talkative and often in trouble. But I enjoyed school. I was good at games, and played cricket and hockey.
- What was your favourite/most hated subject at school?
- I didn’t really hate anything, but was always bored with the sort of science we learned then. I always loved writing, and read everything, suitable or unsuitable, that I could lay my hands on.
- What was the book you most loved as a child?
- David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens. We owned a copy and I read it from the time I could read. I’m sure I didn’t understand it, but I loved it anyway.
- Which person from the past would you most like to meet?
- Charles Dickens.
- Who is your favourite author/children’s author?
- I like so many it is impossible to choose. I still read Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes… I don’t have a favourite modern adult author, but like many.
Children’s authors: Margaret Mahy, Leon Garfield, Barbara Willard.
- Why did you want to be a writer?
- I’m not sure that I did! My first book, Cushla and her books, was really a thesis (at Auckland University) and then several publishers asked me to write. Later I started writing children’s books. I love that!
- Do you have a special place where you write your books?
- I have a large study in our hundred-year-old house, with a big kauri desk which is always piled with books and papers! As I’ve always had to snatch time to write, I’ve learned to write anywhere.
- What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?
- There aren’t any bad things about being a writer! The good things: satisfaction when you see your book, in my case a lot of overseas travel when I was given awards, meeting other authors, and visiting children in schools and libraries.
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?
- Before I was a writer I was a teacher, then a mother of eight children and before long a bookseller. I loved all these occupations — and now I love having 25 grandchildren, 1 great grandson, 1 dog, 2 cats — and a husband who has always been helpful and supportive.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
- Write, write, write, WRITE! Although you should watch and listen to people, you should not be too sociable, all the time. Writers have to spend hours and hours alone, writing!