Meet Australian author: Jane Jolly

  • Published on December 16, 2016



This week I have the great pleasure of inviting South Australian author Jane Jolly to the readilearn blog. Jane is author of a number of books, including the recently published Radio Rescue!

The book about which I am talking with Jane in this interview is Tea and Sugar Christmas. Like many of Jane’s publications, this one is based on a true story. It tells of a Christmas experience that is likely very different from your own.

The Tea and Sugar Train

Once a week from 1917 to 1996, the Tea and Sugar Train travelled across the Nullabor Plain between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. It delivered goods and services to people living in remote communities along the way. In December, the train would carry a special Christmas passenger.

Tea and Sugar Christmas tells of the anticipation of his arrival and what it meant to children in those small remote communities.

Jane’s story is beautifully illustrated by the acclaimed Australian illustrator Robert Ingpen. Each page opens out to reveal a colourful two-page illustration.


The story is authenticated with the inclusion of interesting facts about the Tea and Sugar Train at the back of the book.


Tea and Sugar Christmas was a winner in the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards. It was also an Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Children’s Book of the Year Awards.

Welcome to readilearn, Jane. We are looking forward to getting to know you a little better.

Thanks for inviting me!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always enjoyed writing from when I could first hold a pencil.

Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?

I have an office in my house and I work from there, but on sunny days I take my computer outside.

What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?

I write directly onto the computer but have often made lots of hand written notes before starting.

When do you write?

On my days off and in the evenings.

When do you get your ideas?

All around me as most writers will tell you.

Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?

Yes, I usually have an idea of where it is going before I start writing…but not always.

What gave you the idea for this story?

I have always loved trains and knew about the Tea and Sugar Train so that was my inspiration.

Do you like the illustrations?

The illustrations are beautiful, as expected being done by Robert Ingpen

Do you have any advice for children as writers?

Just write, write, write.

Who is your favourite author? What do you like about his or her work?

I love the work of Bob Graham but there are so many I like it is really too hard to choose.


Thank you Jane Jolly for sharing these insights about Tea and Sugar Christmas and your writing process.

Thank you, and thanks for having me!

Other publications by Jane Jolly:

“Limpopo Lullaby” 2004, CBCA Notable

“Glass Tears” 2005, CBCA Notable

“Ali the Bold Heart” 2006, CBCA Notable

“Ami Has Aspergers” 2009

“Tea and Sugar Christmas” 2014 NLA Illustrated Robert Ingpen CBCA Honour Book

“One Step At A Time” 2015 Illustrated Sally Heinrich CBCA Honour Book 2016

“Radio Rescue!” 2016 NLA Illustrated Robert Ingpen

Coming in 2017

“The Man With Small Hair” Publisher: Little Hare, Illustrator: Award Winnning  Andrew Joyner

“Papa Sky” MidnightSun Publishing Illustrated Sally Heinrich

“Star of Anise” NLA Illustrated Di Wu

To find out more about Jane and her award winning books visit her website

Look what's new

This interview and information about Jane Jolly is available as a printable resource in in readilearn literacy resources: Author Spotlight. The information may be displayed in your classroom or included in a class book about authors and illustrators.

Check out other authors previously interviewed for Author Spotlight: Rebecca Johnson, Lauri Fortino, and June Perkins.

Next month I will be interviewing Helene Magisson, illustrator of the beautiful book of poetry by June Perkins Magic Fish Dreaming.

Thank you

Thank you for reading.

Happy teaching and learning,



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    It’s so interesting to hear about Jane’s writing process. Thanks for sharing and thanks to Jane for participating!

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Bec. I enjoy finding out how different authors approach writing. It’s definitely not the same for everyone.

    This is so interesting. I had never heard of this. What a wonderful mix of story and facts (I love facts at the end of picture books). And the pages that open out to two-page illustrations look beautiful. Thanks for sharing this book! I’m taking a look at it for the holidays.
    I can appreciate the feeling of wanting to be a writer since I could hold a pencil. 🙂 I love trains, too, so can see why this inspired Jane enough to write about the Tea & Sugar Train. Great interview!
    Happy Holidays!

    I’m so pleased you enjoyed meeting Jane and finding out about her book, Sarah. It is a wonderful story and I knew as soon as I read it that I wanted to share it. The situation is different from what most children experience and I think it is great to learn about the lives of others.

    Exactly: “The situation is different from what most children experience and I think it is great to learn about the lives of others.” Could not agree more.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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