Alison Hart lives at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges with her daughter and lots of animals, wild and domestic. In her spare time, Alison likes reading, watching old movies, and opening and closing the door for the cat. Besides writing, Alison works in community aged care. School Rules are Optional was her first novel.
Alison chats with us about the writing process of A School Full of Lizards and shares some personal anecdotes.
Q: Readers are super excited about returning to the world of School Rules Are Optional. What were you most looking forward to about writing the sequel?
A: With many of the characters already established, I was really looking forward to jumping straight into the action when writing this sequel. I had lots of ideas and many more presented themselves during the writing process.
Q: In A Class Full of Lizards, Jesse has to deal with a ton of mayhem, including the worst family health kick ever and a classroom overrun with lizards. What were some of the problems you remember from life in the sixth grade?
A: My Grade 6 classroom was upstairs above the library. We were pretty important up there because we had our own change area and a balcony although I don’t remember being allowed to actually go out on it. I do remember the change area was about the size and temperature of a walk-in refrigerator and as I was very small for my age, I got stepped on quite a bit. Other than that, Grade 6 was pretty good. We got to ring the bell and stuff like that. During winter, we used to line up for a cup of chicken noodle or tomato (yuck) soup. On chicken noodle days, everyone would hang back at the end of the line to get all the noodles that had sunk to the bottom of the container.
Q: Did anything change with the plot or characters as you got into the writing process? Did anything surprise you, in the end? (No spoilers, of course!)
A: Yes, I found the plot changed all the time during the writing process as the characters developed their own unique personalities. Sometimes, storylines originally intended for one character seemed better suited to another. Then during the editing process, my attention was drawn towards even more possibilities and ways to bring Jesse and his friends to life.
Q: What type of reader do you think would love this book?
A: I think anyone who really enjoys reading will enjoy this book. It’s pretty easy to relate to what’s going on because the themes are universal – friends, family and school – all from a kid’s point of view. Although the main character, Jesse, talks about all his worries and problems, the book is light and funny. It’s a book for kids who like reading about everyday life – minus the boring bits.