Author Gillian Meares at the Melbourne Writers Festival at BMW Edge in Federation Square.

Gillian Mears. Photo: Angela Wylie

DESPITE suffering from multiple sclerosis for more than a third of her life, award-winning author Gillian Mears has only recently undergone a ''drastic change'' of heart in favour of voluntary euthanasia.

Ms Mears, 48, won the Prime Minister's Literary Award for fiction this year for her novel Foal's Bread. She told Fairfax Media she did not want to end up like two characters in that book: ''They had no choice but to take their own lives, and the way they do it is extreme and drastic.''

The author is mostly confined to a wheelchair because of her MS, which she has described as ''the slow road to death''.

Although diagnosed when she was 30, Ms Mears was opposed to voluntary euthanasia until recently.

''As little as five years ago, I really did believe that without safeguards, voluntary euthanasia could be open to the terrible abuse of the elderly and the vulnerable in our society. I felt that quite strongly.''

But now, she wonders why it is illegal: ''Look, if I've got a suffering animal, I will not hesitate to have them euthanised.''

Ms Mears is writing an illustrated fable about life and death for all ages, The Cat with the Coloured Tail, which she hopes will be like a feline Little Prince (the story by Antoine de Saint Exupery).

Ms Mears will appear before the NSW Parliamentary Forum on the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill on Monday in favour of legalising voluntary euthanasia.