Q& A WITH

Wendy Harmer’s fairytales have had a very happy end­ing – they’ve been turned into a hit kids’ TV show. Guy Davis spoke with the cre­ator of Pear­lie.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE - WENDY HARMER, PEAR­LIE

WENDY HARMER

Wendy Harmer has done pretty well at ev­ery­thing she’s turned her hand to over the years, be it stand-up com­edy, break­fast ra­dio or writ­ing nov­els. ( OK, so maybe host­ing the Lo­gies didn’t go so great for her, but does any­one ever do well at that?)

So when she de­cided to turn the bed­time sto­ries she told her young daugh­ter into a se­ries of chil­dren’s books, it’s not too sur­pris­ing that the tales of Pear­lie the Park Fairy cap­tured the hearts of kids around the world.

With 11 books to her name, Harmer has now made Pear­lie a TV star, with the feisty fairy ap­pear­ing in her own an­i­mated TV se­ries on Ten. I must say that chil­dren’s book au­thor is not the first thing that springs to mind when I think Wendy Harmer. But the same goes for Madonna. When I first started do­ing the books, it was around the time Madonna and Sarah Fer­gu­son were do­ing their chil­dren’s books. I like to think, though, that I’ve out­sold them both. I guess there’s a bit of cyn­i­cism about some­body go­ing off to write kids’ books but Pear­lie has been around since 2003, been trans­lated into eight lan­guages and is now the sub­ject of a $ 10 mil­lion tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion. So I think I’ve proven that I have a bit of se­ri­ous in­tent.

Still, I’m guess­ing that you couldn’t have an­tic­i­pated any of the char­ac­ter’s world­wide suc­cess when you first started telling Pear­lie sto­ries to your daugh­ter Maeve.

That’s ex­actly right! There are two rea­sons why I in­vented Pear­lie, the first one be­ing that I’ve al­ways adored fairies – I’ve al­ways been into myths and leg­ends, ever since I was a kid. And fairies are pretty uni­ver­sal in those myths and leg­ends, so I’ve al­ways been a fairy fan. But when I picked up fairy books to read to my daugh­ter, I didn’t re­ally like what was on off er. A lot of mod­ern fairies are like Paris Hil­ton with wings – they dress up in frocks, flap around and dream about meet­ing a fairy prince. I wasn’t too keen on all that. And se­condly, like a lot of Aus­tralian fam­i­lies, we live in a city. Most fairies are off in the deep, dark woods, so I thought it would be cool to have my daugh­ter be able to look for fairies down in the lo­cal park. That’s where I came up with a fairy that lives in a park in the mid­dle of a city as op­posed to the bot­tom of the gar­den. Pear­lie’s no pushover. Who in­spired her? In mythol­ogy, fairies can be quite ve­nal and spite­ful – they’ll steal ba­bies! So when it came time to cre­ate Pear­lie, I gave her a bit of a tem­per. She can be very feisty and a bit bossy, a bit like me. [ Laughs] But more than that, five-to-eight-year-old girls are bossy,

Harmer: “ When I picked up fairy books to read to my daugh­ter, I didn’t re­ally like what was on off er. A lot of mod­ern fairies are like Paris Hil­ton with wings.”

like mak­ing lists and love com­ing up with grand plans for pic­nics or par­ties and in­volv­ing every­one in th­ese grand plans. So I tried to make Pear­lie like a five-to-eight-year-old girl, be­cause they can run the whole house­hold. I have to say, I thought the char­ac­ter of Saphira was a bit of a Wendy Harmer looka­like. No, that’s not me! Astrid, the head dream fairy, is me. And I’ve got to say that the coolest thing that ever hap­pened to me is be­ing car­i­ca­tured in my own car­toon se­ries. I feel like Bono when he was on The

Simp­sons! You’ve had a very var­ied ca­reer, Wendy. With both kids’ and adult books to your credit, do you now con­sider your­self an au­thor first and fore­most? I al­ways wanted to be a writer, but I kind of way­laid into stand-up and ra­dio and all that. It wasn’t un­til the ripe old age of 48 that I man­aged to get back to be­ing a writer. I do a bit of ra­dio for the ABC and I made a doc­u­men­tary called Stuff for ABC TV, and I’m hop­ing to make an­other doc­u­men­tary next year, but I’m a real free­lancer now. And it’s great.

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