In Her Own Words...








I’m an aspiring writer.  I still hold down a day job while scribbling of other worlds in my spare time.  One of the fastest ways I know to kill a conversation dead at a gathering of writers is to admit exactly what that day job is.  No, I don’t work in a morgue, I’m a teacher.  Most people assume that because I write fantasy and occasionally poetry, I’m an English teacher. However, nothing could be further from the truth.  I teach mathematics – algebra, calculus, statistics – all the really scary stuff.  I’ve taught in AustraliaQueensland and the Northern Territory – as well as in New Zealand.  I haven’t moved around all that much, just sufficient to indulge my other abiding interest in life: investigating meteorite craters.


Every so often a bemused student will uncover my literary secret and will decide to assuage his or her curiosity about the burning question: is it possible for someone who can explain the inner mysteries of differential calculus to string together enough sentences to make a satisfying story?


Now, as everyone knows – or should at least suspect – while it is not especially cool to voluntarily read a teacher’s fiction, it is unspeakably ‘uncool’ to enjoy the experience.  In addition, it is to invite untold ridicule to actually admit it.


So, while I have some lovely praise from adult readers of my fantasy fiction, my favourite critical comments come from those teenage students of mine who found themselves stuck on the horns of a truly diabolical dilemma: how to tell their teacher they liked her story without incurring the complete contempt of their peers.


Your book’s been stolen from the library, miss.  I can’t believe it.  I didn’t think any of the thieves in this school had any taste.


-         Miss, I don’t want to be critical but your story has a serious problem.

-         If you’re worried about the puppy, don’t be.  He comes back in the sequel.

-         The sequel?  There’s a sequel?  Well, that might solve the problem, miss.  Still you might make a mistake, a continuity error, like in the movies.  Do you have someone checking for that? 

-         Are you volunteering, by any chance?

-         Yes, miss.  It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.  When do you think I could start?


The Battle of the Trees is a young Young Adult series.  When Merlin’s Wood was published, I invited dozens of kids to the book launch.  A librarian at the occasion was astonished: she’d been to a great many children’s book launches, but never before seen kids invited before.  I was in turn astonished.  The plain fact is that if you’re writing for a teenage audience, that’s the mind and heart you should know. Some critics think the teenagers in my stories seem to squabble like much younger kids – falling, it seems, for the literary illusion that the average teenage reader is concerned about suicide and drugs.  My experience over many years is that teenage angst is mostly about independence and identity – and in those terms, I don’t see that reading fantasy is escapist or a way of avoiding reality.  Good fantasy, in my view, is the ultimate confrontation with reality.  If you’re interested in pursuing that provocative statement, you can check out my thoughts in Ideas and Inspiration.


A word of warning: Merlin’s Wood doesn’t actually feature Merlin.  It’s about a wood – thirteen trees to be exact.  It has nothing to do with sorcerers and magic spells, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table or the comings and goings at Camelot.  Kids don’t have the expectation of many adults that it will be about wizards and warriors – they like it for what’s there – a story of how easy it is to make the mistake of excusing someone’s fault instead of forgiving them.   


If I’ve concentrated on kid’s comments to the exclusion of the adults’, understand that I’m new enough to this to still feel uncomfortable with the world of publishers’ blurbs where every other fantasy work is hailed as the next Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings.  Instead I treasure the remark of the boy who said, “I hated your book.  I really hated it.  I got to the end of chapter one and I said to myself, ‘this is going to end far too soon’.  The best books are never long enough.”



Anne Hamilton



Author – Merlin’s Wood

Balthasar’s Star




Contact Details

Ideas and Inspiration


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