Tristan Bancks | Australian Children's & Teen Author | Kids' & YA Books


Friday, February 10, 2017

Thanks to Education – Room to Read World Change Challenge Top Fundraisers 2016

Thanks to the following schools for being our top five fundraisers in the 2016 Room to Read World Change Challenge. Since 2012, school children in Australia and Hong Kong, in partnership with children's and teen authors, have raised $100,000 through the World Change Challenge to build libraries, educate girls and buy local-language books for children in the world's poorest countries.

Room to Read believes that World Change Starts With Educated Children. So do I. Check out the short video above and see how Room to Read and the annual World Change Challenge initiative is empowering young people in more privileged countries to help those with little or no access to books and education.

So, thank you to the top five schools below, who will be receiving their prizes from the major Australian publishers very shortly and to all of the schools, teachers, librarians and students across Australia who took part in the 2016 World Change Challenge and I hope that you will help me and the rest of our writer-ambassador team to help change the world through literacy again in 2017.

1. Somerset College on the Gold Coast who raised $2300

2. Hunter Valley Grammar School who raised $1456

3. St John’s Anglican, who raised $1000

4. Pottsville Beach PS who raised $750

5. Shore - Sydney Church of England Grammar School (total funds raised TBC)


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Children's Book Week 2017

The Australian Children's Book Week theme for 2017 is 'Escape to Everywhere'. It sparks lots of ideas for me. It  invites wonder about the world and the wide variety of humans who live here. The theme also captures why I read – to escape – to live inside someone else's mind for a while and to see and feel what they do. That's why they say reading makes you more compassionate and empathetic (see articles in Time, The Guardian and Better Reading on this). And we need that now more than ever.

Children's Book Week runs from 18-25 August and here are 10 ideas to help make 2017 the best Book Week ever.

Escape to Everywhere through reading.
1) Plan Your Escape Start the conversation about reading escapes. Where do you escape from the world to read? What are the best books about Escaping to Everywhere. What is the greatest Escape novel ever written? How many different ways can you Escape when you're reading – into the imagination, to another country or  into a fantasy land? How else? What can you build or create on the theme of Escape to celebrate this year's Book Week? Ask friends, colleagues, students and start the debate now.

2) Escape Into a Book Try reading some of my Top 5 'Escape to Everywhere' Books:

- The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, a companion novel to John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. (This was one of my favourite reads of last year. It made me feel as though I was a kid living up there in the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.)

- Somewhere Else, an inspiring picture book for dreamers, wanderers and wonderers by Gus Gordon (my partner in crime on the My Life books). This book makes you appreciate simple things about everyday life, but it also makes you want to strike out and see the world.

Somewhere Else: A big-hearted book about overcoming fear and Escaping to Everywhere.

- The Fall (see how I cleverly squeezed my new book into the middle of the list without you knowing. The Fall involves a literal escape from a very dangerous man in an apartment building, but it's also an escape into the world of Sam Garner, a kid in trouble at school and with his mum, who's trying to connect with his father for the first time in his life.)

- Icebreaker by Lian Tanner. (This tightly plotted, beautifully characterised adventure story totally immerses you in the rusted, icy, mechanical world of Petrel, who lives aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic. )

- Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak (the ultimate 'escape' book, for kids and adults)

3) Change the World  Join my 2017 Room to Read World Change Challenge (details up soon but check out my World Change page in the meantime to watch the video) and help me and a host of other Australian authors change the world by educating children in the developing world. We have, so far, in partnership with Australian school students, raised over $100,000 to buy books, build libraries and educate girls in ten of the world's poorest countries.

Illustration by Gus Gordon.
4) Book Parade Start planning your Book Week Parade outfit. You can go to the parade dressed as the main character in the My Life books by downloading and printing a free Tom Weekly mask, available soon on this here site! Or maybe you want to dress as a Library Ninja, inspired by my story 'Fungus the Bogeyman' in My Life & Other Exploding Chickens (and Gus Gordon's most excellent illustration above). 'Fungus' is about the time I had a book overdue from the public library for five years as a child and was arrested by a gang of Ninja Librarians when I attempted to return it. (Totally true.)

I love this Tom Weekly mask from last year's Book Week. A mask like this will be downloadable here soon! Thanks for the photo @Tan_79 on Insta!

5) Book Trailers Make a video book trailer for your favourite book and screen it in the school library. Check out my post on How to Make a Book Trailer and send me a link to the trailer you make. Below is the trailer for My Life & Other Exploding Chickens and the winning student-made trailer in the recent My Life book trailer competition for inspiration:

6) The CBCA Keep an eye on the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book Week activity ideas page as it is updated during the year and also on the Teacher-Librarians' Children's Book Week wiki. The brilliant Book Chook blog always has fantastic Book Week resources, too.

7) Author Talks You could book an author (or harass your teacher-librarian to book an author) to speak at your school. Here's a list of agencies. Many authors are already booked for Book Week but if your celebration falls outside the official Book Week dates, you might get lucky. (I'm booked for Book Week '17 but next year or other times of year can be booked through Speakers Ink (QLD) or Booked Out (other states).

Story Inspiration. How can books and movies inspire and influence your own story, novel or movie script?

8) Get Creative Watch my 5-part video series inspired by my new thriller novel for middle-graders The Fall (May 2017). Above is a sneak peek of one of the videos on Finding Story Inspiration. I will share the others soon. They include tips on Outlining a Story, Creating Characters and Rewriting. A perfect way to get inspired for the day, add to your writer's toolkit and open up discussion about key areas of creating an amazing story. If you have an idea for a future video on creative writing, drop me an email or leave a comment on this post.

Or you could try:
- Writing activities in the My Life& Other Stuff I Made Up teachers' kit
- Checking out the visual / aural creative ideas in the Two Wolves teaching materials.
- Getting outside to write. Watch my Story Safari video on how I wrote my novel Two Wolves for inspiration.
- Visiting the CREATE page.
- Using my Story Scrapbook transmedia brainstorming tool to gather videos, images and music as you dream up a new story of your own.

10) Make Your Escape Social Talk about Book Week and 'Escape to Everywhere' on social media. Connect with me on TWITTER , INSTAGRAMFACEBOOK and YOUTUBE throughout the year. Let's talk stories, create things, share the best books we've ever read and the most amazing places we've escaped to through reading.


Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fall

New thriller novel out 29 may 2017. pre-order here.


In the middle of the night, Sam is woken by angry voices from the apartment above.

He goes to the window to see what's happening - only to hear a struggle, and see a body fall
from the sixth-floor balcony. Pushed, Sam thinks.

Sam goes to wake his father Harry, a crime reporter, but Harry is gone. And when Sam goes downstairs, the body is gone, too. But someone has seen Sam, and knows what he's witnessed.

The next twenty-four hours could be his last.

Recommended for ages 10+




The Fall was initially inspired by something I saw while on work experience with Channel Ten news when I was at school. The story wouldn't leave me alone.

The Drafting Process
The Fall is a 50,000-word novel. I actually wrote 120,000 words worth of scenes and chapters. I threw out 70,419 words in my attempt to find the story. That’s just on my laptop. On paper there would be perhaps another 100,000 words.

I wrote seven drafts of The Fall before delivering it to Kimberley Bennett my editor at Penguin Random House. Initially the story was set in Sydney and was about a kid whose mum was a TV newsreader. The events of the story played out while Sam was on work experience with one of her cameramen for a week during the school holidays. In later drafts, while I was travelling with my family, the story was set in Paris and the plot involved the French president and the underground Paris Catacombs. Eventually, it came back to Australia and I set myself the challenge of having the story take place mostly over a single day in one apartment building. For me that really helped focus the book and raise the tension and stakes.

I love movies and books set in a single location and over a short period of time. I love Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the old black and white movie Twelve Angry Men. Tintin was an inspiration as well as the crime reporter comic books that Sam loves. I reread Danny the Champion of the World when I was thinking about the father-son relationship in The Fall. Sam and Harry’s relationship is much more problematic than Danny and his dad’s but I wanted to find some tenderness and connection in spite of the difficulties. I was also inspired by Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret which takes place mainly in and around a Parisian train station. I wanted the apartment building to feel like a character in the story in the way that the train station does in Hugo.



(Coming Soon!)



listen to the fall soundtrack ON SPOTIFY
(the music i listened to while writing the book.)

I always create a soundtrack for my books. I listen to that music over and over and over again as I write the book. The tone / feeling of the music creates the tone / feeling of the book. The music becomes inseparable from the story. I can’t listen to the radio or random music as I write because I find it too distracting. I listen to the lyrics too carefully. But I can listen to music that I’ve listened to many times before, handpicked music that feels like my story. Music without lyrics works well, too. Here's an image of The Fall soundtrack in case you can't see the embedded Spotify playlist above.

What Bloggers, Booksellers, Educators & Authors Said About My Novel Two Wolves:

'Two Wolves recalls the great adventure stories of Jack London but with the gritty realism of 21st-century story-telling. Gripping and unpredictable, with a hero you won't forget.’ – John Boyne, author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
'The novel was perfect - praise I rarely give, in fact - taut, empathic and of a depth very rarely seen for that age group of boys in particular.' – Marj Osborne, Teacher-Librarian / Blogger

'A tense, hard-edged, no-holds-barred thriller.' - Anthony Horowitz, author Alex Rider series)

'I love this book. As a bookseller, I'm always asked for novels that: a) are Australian stories, and b) will get boys into reading. Two Wolves fits both of these bills perfectly. Ben is a relateable character and the story is so vivid I felt I was there. Genuinely tense and page turning without being violent or graphic, this will be going straight to the 'staff picks' wall in my shop. 5 out of 5 stars.' - Tayla Harrison, Collins Booksellers, Moonee Ponds.

'This engrossing novel captures the reader with the skill and narrative power of the descriptive writing, its intriguing plot, believable dialogue, family tensions, and Ben’s emotional and physical growth . . . Highly recommended for secondary readers as a gripping read, and for class discussion on many levels." - ChloĆ© Mauger, Magpies

'It's such a great book: well written, gripping, psychologically true and ethically complex. Fantastic characterisation (especially Ben & Olive, who is wonderfully well-drawn) and a truly exciting story. Loved it. I hope it sells by the truckload!’ - Judith Ridge, Westwords.

'While keeping the narrative exciting and fast-paced, Bancks poses moral dilemmas and choices which increase the depth and literary worth of the novel... Ben [is] flawed, realistic but a positive role-model for teen readers. - Joy Lawn, Boomerang Books.

'I predict that this will become a set novel in many secondary English and Media classrooms. Its sense of place, the action, the moral issues, the connections with other literature, its filmic potential – the list goes on. There are twenty pages of excellent teaching notes on the Random House website here.' - Megan Daley, Teacher-Librarian / Blogger at Children's Books Daily.

'I’m a huge fan of Tristan Bancks’s Mac Slater books and was excited to read his new one – it doesn’t disappoint. Two Wolves is a fantastic, suspenseful novel for readers aged 11 and up, and a book that will keep them reading well into the night!' - Katherine Dretzke, Readings Books, Hawthorn

Sue Warren, TL / blogger:
Miffy Farquharson TL / blogger:
Crew's Reviews:

'I loved reading Two Wolves! Thrilling, thought provoking & an adventure to boot. 
Well done - deserving of book cake.' - AJ Betts, author of Zac & Mia

‘A high stakes adventure that will keep you guessing and breathless until the very end. A moving family drama about the wild places of nature and the human heart, all rolled into one tense and powerful package.’ 
– Michael Gerard Bauer, author of Don't Call Me Ishmael


Monday, January 2, 2017

My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins

Have you ever been trapped inside a runaway car? Have you sold head lice for fun and profit?
Is there someone in your class who will stop at nothing to kiss you?

'Like Dahl, Bancks is passionate about inspiring a love of reading in the young by placing fun 
at the centre of his storytelling.' - Andy Griffiths, Sydney Morning Herald

Here's my new book My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins, out 27 February 2017! It's illustrated by artist and madman Gus Gordon and it's the fifth book in our weird-funny-gross, semi-autobiographical My Life series starring Tom Weekly. It asks all of life's big questions. Stuff like...


Have you ever been trapped inside a runaway car? Have you broken a world record? Is there someone in your class who will stop at nothing to kiss you? Have you ever tricked your dog into doing your homework? Or found something seriously disgusting in your food? Have you sold head lice for fun and profit? Or has your mum ever used raspberry and white chocolate muffins as weapons of minor destruction?

I’m Tom Weekly and all of these things have happened to me. I’ve captured them here in stories, jokes, cartoons, quizzes and lists. Believe me, real life is weirder than anything you can make up.



(Coming Feb 2017! 
Meanwhile, check out trailers for 
the other books in the series


(Coming Jan 2017!)

Weaponised Muffins lands in bookstores 27 February 2017 thanks to Penguin-Random House Australia. I'm hitting the road Feb-August, bringing the stories to life in schools, libraries and festivals in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Newcastle, The Hunter, Armidale, Perth, Tasmania. I'll also be reaching lots of regional centres via Skype. Keep an eye on my Events page for details.

I hope that this is the best My Life book ever. I, rather modestly, think it is. Lewis Snow and his chronic nits are back. So is Stella Holling, and she has another devilish plan for getting Tom Weekly to kiss her.



Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 Adventures in the World of Kids' and Teen Books

It’s so boring when people say, ‘Where did the year go? It’s almost Christmas!' but, seriously, ‘Where did the year go? It’s almost Christmas!’ 

It’s the last day of work for me today for 2016 and I'm trying to remember what, exactly, happened, so I've gathered some of my fave pics from Instagram and from this here blog to tell the story of 2016.

My goal each year is to write the best books I possibly can, to bring them to life in interesting ways – live talks, video, image, sound and interactive – and to try to inspire people to pick up a book or create something. Hopefully I’ve achieved some of this in 2016. In 2017 I'm embarking on a Story Project. More on this mission in the new year.

I hope it's been a good year for you, that you get to spend some time over the next couple of weeks with people you love and that 2017 will be your best year yet.

I started the year by climbing Mt Kosciuszko, Australia's tallest mountain, twice. I vowed that it would be my year of walking and climbing. Instead, it was the year of coffee and doughnuts... and Trump.

But the doughnuts were exquisite in 2016. Trump, not so much.
I may have mentioned before that kids' and teen authors are an amazing bunch of people. This is at Somerset Celebration of Literature in March with Deborah Abela, Tammy Williams and Lian Tanner.

One of my favourite humans, writer and illustrator Gus Gordon, who draws the pictures in the My Life series.

This is a pic from Gus's funny, original and visually stunning new picture book Somewhere Else.
A real treat to meet ABC broadcaster Simon Marnie and to learn from two of my favourite authors John Marsden (Tomorrow When the War Began) and Anna Fienberg (Tashi) at this year's Byron Writers Festival.
Filmmaker Brett Stephens and I pitched my novel Two Wolves as a film to an audience and a panel of top producers at Byron Writers Fest and we won the pitch which was fun. Hopefully some day it'll be a movie!

I loved sharing 'Don't Sit Where You Knit' in school visits. It's a hilarious true story by a twelve-year-old writer that we included in My Life & Other Exploding ChickensThere is another very funny true story by a young writer in next year's book, My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins!
I loved visiting schools all over Australia and trying out my new story ideas, seeing which ones worked and which ones still needed love.

It was fun pranking a bunch of stinky kids in a bookstore with Kids' WB host Shane Crawford.

My Exploding Chicken Video Game battle with kidlit author Oliver Phommavanh and a bunch of bookish gamers, documented live on Instagram, almost shut down the internet. Sort of. If you haven't played the game yet, you probably should. It's here.

My uncle gave me this original Ginger Meggs artwork, done by my great great uncle Jim Bancks, who created the comic strip in 1921. It used to hang on my grandmother's wall and I would look up at it when I was a kid and get inspired to draw my own comics. Meggs and Bancks were a big part of me wanting to create stories for children and teens.

I spent every moment I could this year working on two new books for release in 2017: My Life & Other Weaponised Muffins for March and The Fall for May. I have been working on The Fall since 2012.

I bought a typewriter recently to write a new book and to make the process a bit more physical and interesting. I love working on it. It's so hard to delete or correct anything so it keeps you powering forward. Perfect for a first draft.

I've just finished reading the proof pages of The Fall. ;)

Celebrating Roald Dahl Day in Federation Square, Melbourne, with authors Felice Arena, Jacqueline Harvey and Gus Gordon was memorable. We performed Fantastic Mr Fox live onstage.

Thanks to all the readers for a brilliant year. 
I hope to do a whole bunch of this over the next couple of weeks. 
© Tristan Bancks | Australian Children's & Teen Author | Kids' & YA Books. All rights reserved.
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