This interview can be accessed by the podcast (above), the video (below) or iTunes.
Zana Fraillon grew up surrounded by books. Her love of literature, children and magic were the motivation behind her becoming a primary school teacher and author after a brief stint as a professional magician. Her first foray into the world of children’s literature was based on the theme ‘when no-one’s looking’, which is not unlike her latest novel about two children when no adults are looking.
Her latest book, The Bone Sparrow, is about a refugee in an Australian internment camp and an Australian girl. It’s the new Boy In Striped Pajamas but with a more hopeful ending.
Zana talks about her books and refugees.
Planned interview questions
I was blown away by your upcoming book The Bone Sparrow. What can you tell us about the story?
Why write what could be such a heavy story from the point of view of children?
How did you research The Bone Sparrow?
How long did it take to write the novel and what proportion of that time was spent doing research?
Why write about refugees in Australia?
At one point in the story you link the Australian girl’s ancestors and the refugee’s ancestors, emphasising that even white people are immigrants to Australia. Why take this angle?
Jimmie is a feisty Australian girl whose family is doing it tough in a rural area but trying to stay. Can you tell us more about Jimmie and her experiences? What inspired this aspect of your story?
The one part of The Bone Sparrow that really puzzled me was Subhi’s Night Sea. I was never sure if it was a literary device, a dream or a sign of mental health difficulties.
I’ve been describing The Bone Sparrow as the new Boy in Striped Pajamas but about refugees and with a more hopeful ending. How do you feel about Striped Pyjamas? Did it influence you at all?
A previous book, No Stars to Wish On, is based on the forgotten generation; what can you tell us about the book and the real stories it’s based upon?
Have you written any other issues stories for children or adults?
What stories and writers do you enjoy?
From other people’s stories, who is your favourite character and why?
What’s next for you?