Siobhán Parkinson is a novelist and one of Ireland’s best-known writers for children. She says herself that she writes ‘to the imagination’. True, most of the imaginations who engage with her work are on the youthful side, but in her view, the best books are for everyone who enjoys them.
Siobhán served as Ireland's first ever laureate for children's literature (Laureate na nÓg) from May 2010 to May 2012. There is lots of information about her work in this role at www.childrenslaureate.ie and you can watch some related clips below.
Siobhán lives in Dublin with her husband, who is a woodturner, and without her grown-up son, who does mysterious things with words in England. Since her old cat died some years ago, her pets now are a cherry tree, which she shares with the local magpies, and an apple tree that fruits every second year. She thinks trees make excellent pets: minimum feeding, maximum joy, and you can go on your holidays without having to send them to the kennels. She’s thinking about a pear tree next.
Siobhán has been writing for ever, but mainly since the early 1990s. She writes her books in a medium-sized attic room on a big computer screen. The screen needs to be very big, because Siobhán is visually impaired. That means she doesn’t see very well. But a really giant computer screen, with enormous writing on it, helps, and so does a nice gentleman called Alex, who doesn’t exist, but has a voice. (Weird, but true.)
As well as being a writer, she has been (and sometimes still is) an editor; amateur flying teacher (no, she doesn’t teach flying, she flies about teaching); workshop workhorse; and general writer in and out of residence (mostly in, that is to say, in her own residence). She also teaches creative writing at the Marino Institute of Education and at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin.
When she is not writing or editing, Siobhán likes to cook, eat, drink, sleep, sing and learn languages. She can’t read, because of her eyesight problems, so instead she listens to audiobooks and podcasts on her iPod. This is nearly as good as reading, but it puts her to sleep. That’s OK when she listens in bed, but it’s a bit of a problem if she listens on the bus. Her other hobby is looking for things she has lost. Well, it’s not exactly a hobby, but it takes up a lot of her spare time.
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