Ashlee Shum is 8 years old, and attends Redwood School in Tawa, Wellington. She lives with her mother, father and younger sister. Ashlee fills her life with netball, gymnastics, tennis, badminton and swimming. She loves to learn, loves reading, and also loves playing the piano.
Elizabeth Pulford was born in Canada and her father was from Ukraine. Her mother brought her, and her two brothers and sister, on a war boat to NZ when her father died. Elizabeth has published all kinds of books: picture books, junior chapter books, novels for young adults and adult novels. She has had poems published in School Journals. You can find these all on her web site.
How do you get ideas to write poetry, especially with those interesting rhyming words? My ideas for poems come from everywhere. It can be the sound of the wind or waves of a beach. It can be the sight of a leaf falling from a tree. It can be a reflection in water. Whatever that image is it will set off connecting thoughts which end up as a poem. Even someone in a bad mood. Usually a line falls into my head. Not always the first line, but one that belongs to the poem. Of course this usually happens when I don’t have a pen and a piece of paper so I have to keep repeating the one line in my head until I can write it down.
Rhyming poems I find hard to write. I have bits of paper all over the house trying out different rhyming words until I am happy with the sound and rhyme.
What are your favourite kinds of poems you like to write? I like to write with nature, that has an underlying meaning. If I wrote about about frost on the lawn, it might also mean that I woke up in a frosty mood.
I love the sound of nature and the weather. Even on the stillest day in the garden there is always some sound. A bee, a fly, a distant dog barking.
Do you like reading detective or mystery books? I love detective novels. My favourites are mystery murders and trying to guess who ‘committed the crime.’ At the moment I am reading a lot of these. It’s fun trying out all different kinds of crime novels to see which I like best. The ones I don’t like have too much violence, blood and gore…ugh!
Does listening to music give you ideas in writing? Listening to music doesn’t really give me ideas in my writing. Instead it helps me relax and stops me thinking about things such as what am I going to cook for dinner. It keeps me focused. After a while, if I am writing well I don’t even hear the music, but turn it off and I know it is missing! Strange, eh?
What are your favourite instrument and type of music? I adore classical ballet music. There is just something about the rhythm that suits me. I don’t listen to anything with words, because I would end up singing along.
Do you write more during the day time or anytime in particular? I usually write in the mornings which can sometimes flow over to the early afternoon.
Do you travel around the world to find fun writing ideas, or do you get most of your ideas from time in your garden? I’d love to travel more to capture ideas, but most of mine come from when I am working in the garden and walking. Usually an idea will come out of the blue. And it is often when I am knee-deep in writing another book. If the idea is strong enough it will keep at me until I jot down the idea. The garden and walking are relaxing for me (well not so much when I am mowing the grass) so my mind is open to receiving ideas which is when they pop in and seed themselves.
I have read all of your Lily books! What is your favourite book that you have written?
I had such a good time writing the Lily books and it’s great to know you have read them. My favourite book is usually the one that is about to be published. Next year Scholastic are publishing a trilogy of mine, called The Bloodtree Chronicles. The first book is Sanspell. It is a mixture of fantasy, fairytale and realism. The idea for this just kept nagging at me until I did something about it, and I am glad I did.
Thanks Ashlee for asking such great questions. I have loved answering them.
Note from Paula: Thanks for a wonderful interview Elizabeth and Aslee. You both put a lot of thought into this. thank you! Elizabeth has a beautiful poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘Sun Sonata.’