Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Neridah McMullin!

What a thrill! Award-winning children’s author Neridah McMullin takes us on a wild ride with two brazen ladies from Australian history. EAT MY DUST! is an exciting hurl across the Nullabor with pioneering female motorists, Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell in 1928. Lucia Masciullo‘s dashing illustrations steer you into the era with an old-world charm and hair-raising action that is sure to exhilarate all the senses! Just like its trailblazing characters, this picture book sets the path for a heart-racing and memorable adventure! 🙂

About the Author

Neridah McMullin loves history, true stories and animal stories. An author of nine books for children, Neridah’s latest picture book, published by Walker Books Australia in 2023, is called EAT MY DUST. It’s the true story of Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell, who raced across Australia in the 1920’s to help map Australia.

Neridah has been shortlisted for the 2023 CBCA Book of the Year in the Young Readers Category with her middle grade novel EVIE AND RHINO.

Neridah loves footy, family, walking her dog and meeting other people’s dogs.

Please find Neridah McMullin at her website: www.neridahmcmullin.com

And on social media at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eat My Dust! can be purchased via Walker Books here and in all good bookstores.

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

I wrote it, the amazing Lucia Masciullo illustrated it and Walker Books Australia is the publisher.

WHAT is it about?
In 1928, girls don’t drive cars, let alone race them, until two fearless and intrepid best friends make history, racing across Australia and beating the land speed record … with Barney the dog in tow!

This is the amazing true story of Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell, who helped map Australia.

EAT MY DUST is a picture book for ages 5+.

What is your favourite part of this book?

EAT MY DUST is just a small snapshot about the achievements of Jean and Kath. But my favourite part of the book is when they launch themselves over a sand dune. They were so intrepid and brave.

WHEN did you begin writing this book?

I just checked and I wrote the first draft in January 2020. My books are always written in two stages. The first stage is the research stage where I read everything about a subject. I then ask myself, is there a story here? I did that research in 2019, and then over the summer of 2020, I wrote the first draft.

This picture book got picked up pretty quickly, which isn’t usual. At the same time my MG novel EVIE AND RHINO was contracted and Linsay Knight at Walker, who asked me ‘what else have you got?’ and I told her about my racing girls. She told me she loved it, and to get on with it. I worked on it every day in the summer of 2020. Of course, it’s been through subsequent edits as I always try to say too much.

When is its release / launch date?

2nd August. Book launch details for tonight!

WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

I’m always researching something else when I stumble upon another gem. It happens all the time. Anyway, I was reading about the girls on a history blog about pioneering women. I hadn’t heard about Jean and Kathleen before. Upon further, more intensive research I discovered a photo album held at the State Library of Victoria with over 200 photos of their adventures. Jean Robertson was a keen photographer and some years ago her album had been donated to the library. It documented everywhere they drove.

Jean and Kathleen drove all over Australia, but my book focuses on a race across the Nullabor from Perth to Adelaide in an attempt to break the land speed record. They faced many challenges along the way, because back then, there were no roads or maps. They followed train lines, or telegraph lines, but sometimes they had to drive overland with only a compass to guide them. They got flat tyres, got bogged and they got lost. Jean and Kathleen drove day and night to cover 2824km in 2 days, nine hours and 57 minutes.

The Shell company gave Jean and Kathleen fuel in exchange for their maps. They became famous as the media followed them on their adventures, regularly reporting on their progress in the newspapers.

WHY is this book meaningful to you?

I guess it’s because I wish I was with them. I love Jean and Kath. They were capable and brave and got themselves out of many a scrape, all the while still retaining their sense of humour.

Jean and Kath faced many challenges, including discrimination. They proved they were more than capable than men at a time when they dominated motoring.

Why would its message resonate with readers?

Because it’s an inspiring story about two girls overcoming the odds.

HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

This book was a massive team effort from Walker Books Australia. I couldn’t have worked with better editors and designers. Lucia’s illustrations are incredible and are full of hidden detail. Her efforts to meet historical accuracy thrilled me. I think it’s a special book that hopefully children will love.

How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?

I do a lot on socials these days, including my blog. I’ve just posted a series of ‘Inspirations’ about EAT MY DUST on my Instagram. I’ve got loads of interviews coming up (thanks to you Romi at Just Write for Kids). I’m having a small book launch and I will be doing a bookshop tour of signings in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast. And I will be doing heaps of author visits to schools along the way.

OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?

Jean and Kathleen both held pilots’ licences and were qualified mechanics. In their late twenties, their families told them they’d done enough flitting around and it was time to settle down. They both married and never drove again.

This is such an incredible story of two brave women! Thank you for sharing it with us, Neridah! 🙂

#thequicksixinterview #eatmydust #motoringwomen #bravery #australianhistory #picturebooks

2 thoughts to “The Quick Six Interview with Neridah McMullin on Eat My Dust!

  • Melissa-Jane Fogarty

    This sounds like a very cool book – added to my to-buy list!

    • Just Write For Kids

      Absolutely! It’s spectacular! Thanks, Melissa-Jane x


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