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Inside Teaching : April 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 20 QUESTIONS 33 If there was only one book in the Candlebark school library, what would it be? The Human Comedy by William Saroyan, a wise and beautiful book. Where does the name ‘Marsden’ come from? It’s a Yorkshire name. A great, great, great uncle was known as the Flogging Parson, an unpleasant chap who boasted that he liked to try on Friday, hang on Sunday. What was your first writing success, before So Much to Tell You? In Year 4 with a friend we published the 4C Chronicle and everything we wrote got in because we were the publishers – an empowering experience. What was the poster on the teenage John Marsden’s wall? The great Bob Dylan, still revered. Do you have your teaching certificates and book awards on display? No, in both cases, but my mother told me I should have them somewhere so I organised a bookcase. The awards and first editions and all that are just ephemera. Who’s your favourite character from The Simpsons? Ned Flanders, because he’s so awful, like a distillation of the worst of every Christian television preacher. Are you in tune with pop culture generally? Just by being around young people you have to be aware of it. Anyone thinking of starting their own vampire series probably shouldn’t as the whole vampire thing is likely to be about to die a natural death, unlike vampires! Do you have moments when you want your portrait and giant statues everywhere? No, definitely! I’ve had my portrait painted a number of times, but found the process uncomfortable. I bought one large painting, but haven’t put it on display or even unwrapped it. It’ll probably be like Dorian Gray’s portrait if I do eventually reveal it to the world. A joke you’ve been told by a student recently? Knock-knock. Who’s there? No-one. No-one who? Do your students have a nickname for you? Everyone at Candlebark, where I’m the principal, tends to use first names. Would your childhood best friend be surprised at where you’ve ended up? No, we were both idealistic young men. He got a medical degree and worked in aboriginal health in central Australia – a principled human with a commitment to improving life. Which person, living, reanimated or fictional, would you like to have as a guest teacher? The American poet Robert Frost who conveys so much so simply. What would you like to be if you get a next life? A musician. Perhaps a dog. Border collies seem to live life to the full. Which title would you choose for a hypothetical autobiography: Teacher, Writer, Teacher/Writer or John Marsden, king of Cool? I’d like maybe Looking For Trouble, but I’ve already used that for a novel. What’s your favourite sound? Cello, and the powerful owls around Candlebark. David Rish interviewed JoHn MarsDen, and discovered a writer, teacher and school principal who’s still amazed by learning. 20 questions* with John Marsden