The Mahy Questionnaire: David Hill

Your favourite Mahy Questionnaire is back! Our second instalment of the year features author, playwright, poet, columnist, and critic David Hill. Read on for his takes on hauntings, witches and giraffes!

1. Describe yourself in three words

Vague, methodical, surprised.

2. During the height of adolescence, was it good changeover?

I was the nation’s most gauche teenager.

3. Are you haunted by a particular memory?

Yes— my inability as a 19-year-old to handle my mother’s slow death.

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The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (J.M. Dent, 1982)

4. MM: ‘Imagination is the creative use of reality.’ Is this true for you?

Mr Hill could not be reached for comment.

5. Have you ever owned a rattlebang car?

Indeed— a 1954 Hillman Minx.

6. Which witch? Identify a favourite one from literature.

The one on the left around Macbeth’s cauldron.

7. ‘Come dance all around the world. And see all the beauty that surrounds us.’ Words for a romantic or just being mindful?

A Readers Digest quote.

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The Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams (F. Watts, 1989)

8. A lion in the broom cupboard or a lion in the meadow?

One in the paddock— as I believe Margaret Mahy originally wrote?

9. When have you been at your most discombobulated?

Trying to invent a title.

10. What is your most favourite thing to do on a summery Saturday morning?

Plant a vegetable and drink a coffee.

11. In what way might you be a trickster?

Every time I write fiction.

The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy (J.M. Dent, 1986)

12. Have you ever been rewarded when looking down the back of the chair?

Numerous ballpoints.

13. A pirate for a mother or a jester for a father?

A pilgrim for a friend.

14. Would you babysit someone else’s shadow?

More time needed.

The Boy With Two Shadows by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams (J.M. Dent, 1971)

15. ‘Horrakapotchkin,’ said the cat. ‘I want to write a poem.’ Is that how it works for you?

I never want to write a poem— unless the idea won’t work as a story or a play.

16. What I like for dinner when I am on my own is…

Cashew nuts.

17. If you find yourself nose to nose with a shark, the only thing to do is to…

Realise you should swim in rivers only.

The Great White Man-Eating Shark by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jonathan Allen (J.M. Dent, 1982)

18. MM: ‘If things were fair, all stories would be anonymous…set free from the faults that go with its author’s name.’ Would you set your stories free in the name of anonymity?

Sorry, I’m too vain.

19. You’re at a party and someone finds out what you do. What is the question they invariably ask?

(All together now) “Where do you get your ideas from?”

20. Who do you go to be entertained by linguistic pyrotechnics? Or entertained by sonsense nongs?

Much more time needed.

21. Which way does your heart lie: between the stars or anchored to the trapeze?

Roughly in the direction of the Virgo galactic cluster.

The Wind Between the Stars by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Brian Frood (J.M. Dent, 1976)

22. Would you rather be followed home by hippos or giraffes?

Giraffes— they can see the traffic patterns ahead.

23. Never mind a baby in the bubble. Would you rather – rice bubbles, bubble gum, bubble ‘o’ bill ice cream or Michael Bublé?

Far more time needed.

David Hill
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David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas. He reviews books on Radio NZ, and across a wide range of print media. He used to have a well-read column in The Listener.