story, science, technology and creativity

Ask me anything

cropped-cristy-burne-sunglasses.jpgAsk me anything about my books, writing, life as an author and more…

Do you have a question you’re burning to have answered?

Send your questions via “Contact me” or write them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them here on this page.

From the Inverell Library Junior Book Gems Book Club, who are reading Beneath The Trees:

Beneath the Trees TEACHING RESOURCES sHow old do you think the children are?

Beneath the Trees is inspired by a true story that happened to my family when my kids were in Year 2 and Year 4. So I think Cam is Year 4, and Sophie about Year 2, and maybe Jack is Year 5.

  1. Who was your favourite character and why?

I love Cam. I have often felt like I knew the right thing to do, or like I had a good idea, but then I’ve not had the courage to stand up for my opinion. I think, especially when you’re a kid, it’s very easy to think that just because someone is older or louder, their voice matters more than yours. But that’s not true. Everyone’s voice matters, and sometimes the quiet voices are the ones most worth listening to.

  1. What was Cam’s most important skill in helping the group to remain safe?

TibetI like the way Cam recognised Jack’s hypothermia symptoms and realised it was time for her to take control. I grew up in New Zealand, where we were taught about hypothermia, which is when your body temperature falls too low. A classic sign of hypothermia is that the sufferer becomes confused and starts to make dumb decisions.

I witnessed this in real life on a four-day hike in Tibet with another backpacker. He insisted on hiking in a t-shirt, even though it was freezing! And he didn’t eat enough food, so he didn’t have enough energy. That afternoon, he became increasingly irrational and slurry. He wanted to pitch our tent right next to a riverbed (!) and then he decided we didn’t need a hot dinner (!!).

So, I had to be like Cam and take control. I pitched the tent far enough from the river and cooked up a hot meal while he tried to sleep. Eventually, with hot food and a warm sleeping bag, he began to warm up again and by the morning he was back to normal. Phew!!!

4: Could we also ask how you got the idea for the story? 

The idea for the platypus that the characters see early in the book comes from an ABC science story.

And the idea for the flooding forest, the mudslide, the missing bridge, the sour babies, and the horror of the hungry ‘caterpillars’ that crawl up from beneath the trees all come from real life. If you go to Eungella National Park today and ask about the family who went walking in the rain, they’ll probably tell you all about our adventures. (Or you can just read the book 😉)

Bibbulmun Track Cristy BurneFrom Ben, Charles, Josie, Lara, Loic and Shiya (who have just read Off The Track): Have you ever walked the Bibbulmun Track? Why did you write about it?

From Cristy: I’ve walked some sections of the Bibbulmun Track and stayed in lots of huts, but the whole track would take more than six weeks of non-stop walking to complete!! I’m nowhere near having completed it. One day I’d love to take a long holiday and fill my pack with food and water and warm clothes and head out on an adventure! I love hiking on the Bibb…it always makes me feel relaxed and peaceful and CREATIVE! And that’s why I wrote a book about it…I hope lots of people have a chance to go hiking and stay in a Bibbulmun hut!

From Claire: How did you find out about snottygobbles?

From Cristy: How cool are snottygobbles?!?!? I love them! I first learned about snottygobbles when I was walking along a stretch of the Bibbulmun Track and saw this bright lime green tree that seemed unlike all the other trees around it. My sister (children’s author HM Waugh) has spent a lot of time studying native plants and she knew what it was straight away. We sat under that first snottygobble to have a break from hiking and eat some chocolate. I loved them from that moment on!

From Willow: Was there another job you wanted to do before you became a writer?

From Cristy: Yes! I always loved books and stories, but when I was a kid, before I dreamed of being a writer, I wanted to be 1) a kindy teacher and then 2) a book shop owner. I thought being a kindy teacher would be FUN, because little kids are so funny, and I thought being a bookshop owner would be AWESOME because I’d get to read all the latest books. Now, as a children’s writer, I get to hang out with kids AND read books. Heloo!?!? #perfectjob   Thanks for your question, Willow!!

From Luke: Are you going to make more books? 

From Cristy: Yes! It’s so much fun writing and making books that I don’t ever want to stop. I still want to me making stories and books when I’m 100!

From Shiya: Will you write Off The Track 2?

From Cristy: Hmmmmmm. Maybe! I have no plans to write a sequel to Off The Track right now…but maybe one day, after I’ve walked more of the Bibbulmun Track… I bet there are many more adventures to write about!

creative-writing-and-drawing-and-origami21From Lara: Have you read any David Walliams books? What is your favourite?

From Cristy: I love Gangsta Granny! My own Nan is 95 years old and I love to think that when I’m not there visiting her, she’s off having funny and exciting adventures. I also loved reading the Super Gran series by Forrest Wilson when I was a kid (about a granny with super powers!)

From Sophie: How do I make my stories flow so they are understandable?Booragoon Primary

From Cristy: Wow. That is a super-tricky question!

I think the answer lies in a study of all the stories that have ever been told since the beginning of time. Because every time we sit down to tell a story, we get a little bit better at telling it. So over hundreds and thousands of years, we’ve evolved a story structure that seems to work best for our human way of thinking. If we stick to these ‘rules’ of structuring a story, the story seems to flow in an understandable way.

These rules are the same rules that your teachers teach you at school:

– Begin a story with a problem for your character
– Have your character try to solve the problem
– Complicate the problem until it’s so bad it seems impossible
– Then have your character solve the problem in a satisfying way…YAY!

If you stick to these rules, Sophie, your stories will begin to flow in an understandable way….(but you can also break the rules sometimes too, if you want :-))
I hope that helps…let me know what you think and if it helps you in your story writing journey 🙂

3 thoughts on “Ask me anything

  1. fiction or non fiction? what’s your advise on a bible based book.


    • Hi Sophia, that’s a tricky one… I always recommend you write your first draft in the way you want to write, free of any thoughts of genre and market and being ‘perfect’, and then look at that first draft and decide from there how you want to start editing and rewriting. Hope that helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • your message deserves a more detailed response. but for now I want to just thank you for sharing your feedback. I actually have all the content for a Bible based book in my mind and just wanted to bounce my thought off with someone with experience. Thanks for being there.


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