Questions and Answers
My surname is Swiss from my grandfather, Ernst who was born in Vordemwald, Switzerland in 1902. I pronounce my surname, “Ploose.” I’ve been to Vordemwald and have the photo to prove it.
Where were you born?
In Sydney, some time ago.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Strathfield, (New South Wales, Australia) with my parents and three brothers. I’m the second born.
What did you do after school?
After high school I went to Sydney University and finished an Arts Law Degree. I worked for a few years as a Government lawyer in Sydney. I also studied towards a Communications Degree at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, country New South Wales. In this course I was able to study theatre, performance, video production and writing. It was around this time that I decided I would be a writer no matter what.
Did you ever have part time work?
While I was at school I worked Thursday night and Saturday morning at Coles Variety store at Burwood. I remember my pay was nineteen dollars a week. It was my first experience of dealing with “the public”. During my time at University I worked as a nursing aide at an old people’s home in Strathfield. I think being with the people in the home was one of the best things I could have done as a young person. I learnt a lot. Later on I worked as a bar assistant at a local hotel. The owner of the hotel taught me a wonderful lesson – you have to treat everyone with dignity – which wasn’t always easy in a bar. So, I learnt a lot there as well. I was a waitress for one night but was fired – I was nervous and mixed up everyone’s order. Sometimes I worked at a Reception Lounge for wedding parties with a group of friends. That was the best fun.
Where do you get your ideas
I find that the more time I spend thinking and researching the more ideas I get – so that must be where they come from. I also give myself time for the ideas to come – I take the time to think, read, research and talk to people. Now, I have too many ideas and not enough time.
Do you have a favourite book?
“I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew” by Dr. Seuss. This book has always made sense to me. The One-Wheeler Wubble and the camel that bubbled. The owls and the mice in the Midwinter Jicker. The Perilous Poozer of Pompelmoose Pass. I understand this world. You’re bossed around because you’re young. Owls and mice keep you up all night with their chatter. Buses break down and houses fall off cliffs. You’re outnumbered, deserted and disappointed. Most of the time you have no idea where you are or where you’re going. You rely on the kindness of strangers and last minute escapes. You put up with all this in the hope that things will get better – that one day you’ll sleep on “billowy billows of soft silk and satin marshmallow-stuffed pillows”.
Most of all I love Vent No. 5 full of birds all going the wrong way. Once my daughters and I were walking through Rundle Mall in Adelaide. There was a huge crowd of teenagers waiting to hear the winner of the first Australian Idol Contest, Guy Sebastian sing at a free concert. It was a very hot day and some of the teenagers had collapsed in the heat and had to be taken to hospital. As the girls were young we were holding hands so as not to be separated. Sometimes as we wove our way through the crowd people would close around us so that all we could see each of other were our connected hands stretching between the bodies. We were crushed and it was slow and difficult. At one point I turned to the girls and said, “Vent No. 5” and they knew exactly what I meant.
But all of this is not really what this book is about. There may be troubles in getting to Solla Sollew but the Valley of Vung is where the young character is from …
What is your favourite memory?
I remember one Christmas Eve when I would have been eight or nine. It had been a hot day and there were lots of Christmas beetles buzzing against the windows. I was too excited to sleep. It was so hot, the beetles were frantic and Santa was on his way. I remember thinking that there was no way on earth I would ever fall asleep…