As a child
Robyn was born in Port Pire, a country town in South Australia. Besides friends, school and sport, there wasn’t much to do in Port Pirie. The town didn’t have a cinema, drive-in theatre, skating rink, bike park, bowling alley or a shopping mall. No one had home computers yet and, in Port Pirie, there was only one television station to watch. Robyn spent a lot of time reading and imagining great adventures. She loved books and escaping in their stories. When Robyn was fifteen, her English teacher told her, ‘You should be a writer.’ Until then, Robyn hadn’t thought about people writing books. When she realised people wrote the books she loved reading, she went home and wrote her first book. No one has ever seen this first book of Robyn’s. ‘And no one ever will,’ she says.
As an adult
Robyn has lived in Adelaide, South Australia, all of her adult life. She loves Adelaide because it is a small big city. Robyn’s first job was with the Reserve Bank of Australia. For a while, she was a bank teller and had to count hundreds of thousands of dollars every day. No, she didn’t keep any of the money. For approximately twenty years, Robyn worked in finance. This doesn’t mean she is old. Robyn is only twelve, like a lot of her characters. While she was working and earning money, Robyn wrote in her spare time, mostly on weekends. She had to learn how to write children’s books, so she read a lot of books and did three courses. She kept on learning and kept on writing for about five years before she was published. In 1999, her first three books were released. Robyn’s goal was to stop working in finance, so she could stay home and write as much as she liked. She went from working full time to working part time. Then she gave up her job and now writes at home all day. This is a dream, and she is so happy she could burst.
As an artist
When Robyn was fifteen, her English teacher told her, ‘You should be a writer.’ At the time, Robyn hadn’t thought about people writing the books she loved. She only thought about the characters and the stories. After hearing her English teacher’s words, she went home and wrote her first children’s book. It was a mystery, like the Nancy Drew adventures she loved so much. A few years later, Robyn wrote a story about a penguin called Patch and submitted it to publishers. Unfortunately, Patch the Penguin hasn’t been published. But Robyn didn’t give up. In 1999, her first three books were published. Robyn now has more than 75 books in print. She works from home, as a full time writer. You might be surprised to hear that Robyn writes in her lounge room, not in an office or at a desk. She likes to sit in a recliner chair with a laptop on her lap and tap away on the keyboard for most of the day. She usually works on her own books from 9 o’clock in the morning until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. She doesn’t stop for lunch. She eats while writing, so crumbs on her laptop can be a problem. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she says, ‘as long as my stories aren’t crummy.’
Things you didn't know about Robyn Opie
- I hated cockroaches until I wrote Black Baron. Now I love them.
- When I was eight, I wanted to be a pop star.
- When I was little, my mum sometimes gave me fish fingers for dinner. My chair at the kitchen table faced our fish tank and I felt terrible eating fish fingers in front of the fish.
- I have two dogs named Spock and Buzz. I don’t have any other pets because Buzz would eat them.
- A few years ago, a publisher sent a manuscript back to me and, when I got home from work, I found the manuscript on the ground, half-chewed. It’s true. My dog ate my manuscript!
- I love nature and wish I could save the world. I also love animals and wish I could save every animal.
- I love food because it is so tasty but my favourite treat is chocolate.
- I’m allergic to tap water. Actually, I’m allergic to chlorine which is added to our tap water to kill germs. Hey, I’m not a germ!
- I don’t have one favourite colour. I like blue because of the sky, and yellow because of sunshine, and green because of nature.
- I hate brussels sprouts. Yuck! If you come to my house for dinner you’ll never have to eat brussels sprouts.