About the Author – Lynne Fellowes

Lynne Fellowes

This is Lynne Fellowes’ second book. Her first, “No Room for Watermelons”, a travel adventure, was published by High Horse in 2013. Previously, one of her stories, “The Conondale Ball”, was adapted as a stage production and featured in the children’s television program, Totally Wild. When not writing, Lynne works as an artist in her Huon Valley studio. Having lived abroad and travelled extensively, Lynne now calls Tasmania home.

Where did you get your inspiration for Fat Chance?
Several years ago when I visited Tasmania for the first time, I was horrified, as most visitors are, to see such a large number of roadkill on the roads. Not just possums and wallabies, but animals and birds such as eagles, wombats, echidnas. Then when I moved to Tasmania to live I became aware of how many species were facing extinction.

Living in the Huon Valley I’m surrounded by nature. Seeing wedge-tail eagles and black cockatoos flying overhead is thrilling and I wanted to capture that sense of wonder in a children’s book. I also wanted the story to not only be educational, but to provide hope and encourage families to explore what they could do to make a difference.

Have you been involved in conservation before?
Yes. When I lived in Queensland I was a member of Wilvos wildlife rescue. For several years I hand-raised wallabies, birds and flying foxes. My biggest thrill was to see a wallaby, who we named Shani, give birth to her first joey in our lounge. Chico, a male wallaby we raised to adulthood from 50 grams used to return each afternoon at 5 o’clock to sit on our knee and watch the world news with Jim Lehrer.

We rescued scores of flying foxes (bats) from aquaculture farms where they got caught in the netting. In the evenings they would hang upside down off my shirt and flap in readiness for when the tears in their wings healed. They are incredibly affectionate and fascinating to watch with their babies who suckle under their armpits.

How did you choose which animals to include?
When I learned about the red handfish being discovered in the Derwent, I began researching other lesser-known species and was fascinated to learn that there are many projects being undertaken by scientists that we rarely hear about.

I’m a huge fan of ecologist Dr Rachael Alderman who goes to secluded Albatross Island and camps in a cave from Sept – October each year to study the Shy Albatross. “Every species needs a champion,” she says.  I heartily agree. To have people like Rachael doing such invaluable work gives me hope that we can save endangered species. Of course species like the hairy red snail and the blind velvet sounded so appealing that I just had to include them in the book.

Which animal is your favourite? And why the ladybird?
That’s a hard question to answer. There is something special about them all. The more I learn about each one, the more captivated I become. One of my favourites is the sea dragon. The way these tiny creatures carry their eggs is amazing. The Pedra Branca skink seems so insignificant, living on an isolated rock in the sea, but he has a vital role to play and I believe we should recognise every species, big or small, cute or not.

Ladybirds are unsung heroes. They are an important biological control for aphids and other pests in the garden. One female ladybird can eat 2500 aphids in her lifetime. Although they are not endangered, ladybirds, like spiders and bees are vulnerable when we use pesticides. Jennifer Wright, the book’s illustrator came up with the idea for the ladybird. We both love them and I think they are every child’s favourite bug.