Interview: Susan Brocker talks about Friday the Rebel Dog
Susan Brocker has written over 50 fiction and non-fiction books for older children and teens, which have been published worldwide. She has a history degree and a great love of social history that is reflected in her books. Susan also has a close affinity with and love for animals that shines through in her writing. Susan lives with her husband and many pets in a lovely old villa on a small farm near Tauranga. She talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about Friday the Rebel Dog.
This is the true story of the infamous rustler, James Mackenzie, and his loyal dog Friday, who stole sheep in the heart of the South Island over 160 years ago. I tell the tale through Friday’s eyes as she herds a thousand sheep through rugged mountain passes.
What inspired you to write this book?
I remember seeing the statue of Mackenzie and Friday in the main street of Fairlie and was intrigued about the story. I was particularly intrigued with the dog’s name and wanted to know more about her and her antics.
What research was involved?
I read extensively the many nonfiction books about James Mackenzie, especially The Mackenzie Affair by James McNeish and Mackenzie of the Mackenzie Country by J H Beattie. I also researched material on the internet, including https://nzhistory.govt.nz/ and various sites about the Mackenzie Country, as well as reading many articles on James Mackenzie in Papers Past.
How did you collaborate as writer and illustrator together?
We didn’t collaborate as such. Raymond read the story and brought his own wonderful vison to the tale and gave it life with his bright and quirky illustrations.
What did you enjoy the most about writing Friday the Rebel Dog?
It became a real journey for me, tracing their tortuous route into the Mackenzie Country and imagining what they met with along the way. I mostly enjoyed telling the story from Friday’s viewpoint and marvelled at how clever she must have been to herd so many sheep so far.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
I took my own dog for a long leisurely walk through the bush, but we didn’t discover any hidden mountain passes!
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
I re-read one of my favourite books, White Fang by Jack London. It’s one of my favourite stories because it too is about a dog and also covers a fascinating period in history.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I am currently researching another true NZ story about another clever, cheeky animal.
Published by Scholastic NZ