Born: Established: 2 Nov 1951 Murwillumbah ;
Joanne Horniman grew up in a country town in northern New South Wales. She completed an arts degree in Sydney, and has a graduate diploma in infants/primary education from the Armidale College of Advanced Education. From 1973 to 1977 Horniman was assistant editor of the NSW Department of Education's School Magazine. She has also worked as an adult literacy teacher at TAFE, and was a part-time lecturer in children's literature at Southern Cross University. In 1978 she married Tony Chinnery, a potter; they have two sons. After moving back to the north coast with her family, Horniman produced a series of mostly satirical posters that are now in the collection of the Australian National Gallery.
Horniman has received a number of awards for her fiction for children and young people. She made these comments on her books, her background and on the significance of place:
'All my books are about the interaction of people and animals with the natural world, not in the usual adventurous sense but in a more spiritual way. We are all connected with forces that we are only aware of some of the time, which is probably why people like to get out and experience nature when they have a chance to get away from their workaday lives. Living away from big cities has been enormously sustaining for me and has led to the kind of books I write.' (From Contemporary Authors)
And on her young adult novel Mahalia, set in the northern NSW country area where she has lived most of her life: 'A place or character can give me the impetus to start writing; with Mahalia it was the idea of a young man looking after his baby. I imagined how he would feel if he were to lose her. There's a point in the writing when the story suddenly becomes real and inevitable, not just something you're playing with. It was only after I realised where he was going to live that his story came to life for me.
'I grew up in a country town above a big old grocery store full of nooks and crannies. I used to go off on my own and spend hours reading the books belonging to my much older brother and sister. When I moved to Sydney I lived for a while in a shop-front house in Glebe, and that place was also dark and mysterious' (from author profile by Allen & Unwin, http://www.allen-unwin.com.au/authors/apHornim.asp ).