Fantasy and family drama
Whakatane, New Zealand
“I write the kind of book that reflects the European middle-class family I came from,” Margaret Mahy said inBooks for Keeps.
Mahy, the daughter of a builder and a teacher, began writing “from the time I was seven onwards … in a spirit of implacable plagiarism because, reading widely as I did, I rapidly came to feel that everything worthwhile had already been written. I do believe now that the games I acted out, talking aloud as I did, were thereal stories I was inventing.”
Mahy said that she shies away from trying to make a moral point. She noted that she is still fond of Mark Twain'sThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Robert Louis Stevenson'sTreasure Island. “1 try to tell an exciting story, something which children enjoy reading. For older children I try to suggest the world is not a rigidly defined place, that they can allow their imaginations to move and have a lot of freedom.”
Mahy received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of New Zealand in 1958 and worked as a librarian from 1958 to 1980. She has published a steady stream of books for young adults and younger readers since 1969.
“I decided in childhood that I wanted to be a writer,” Mahy said in a publisher's pamphlet, “and I used to write in little notebooks, which I also illustrated. When I got to the middle of the notebook, I always celebrated by drawing a picture, and if I got tired of the story, I would draw many more pictures, for they took up room. I always