Monday, December 8, 2014

On the Run


Here's the cover for On the Run (Farrar Straus Giroux, 17 November 2015), the US edition of my middle-grade mystery novel published in Australia as Two Wolves. What do you think?

I love the photographic Ben and the silhouette of his little sister Olive. I love the wolf in the moon and the italicised font for 'run'. Initially, I was unsure on the title change but it has an energy to it that I like.

'On the Run 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


Synopsis
One afternoon, four police officers visit Ben Silver’s home. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive. Ben and his little sister Olive are bundled into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. Which is weird, because Ben’s family never goes on holidays. 

Things aren’t right and Ben knows it. His parents are on the run. So Ben and Olive are running, too. 

Ben’s always dreamt of becoming a detective – his dad even calls him ‘Cop’ because he asks so many questions. Now Ben gathers evidence, jots notes and tries to uncover what his parents have done. The trouble is, if he figures it out, what does he do next? Tell someone? Or keep the secret and live life on the run?

What Reviewers, Bloggers & Educators Are Saying About the Australian Edition:
'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: https://losangzopa.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/two-wolves-tristan-bancks/
Miffy Farquharson TL / blogger: http://miffyreviews.wordpress.com
Crew's Reviews: http://crewsreviews.edublogs.org/2014/01/22/loyalties-two-wolves/


'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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Room to Read World Change Challenge Gives 20,000+ Books to Kids in Developing World


The 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge has reached it's fundraising goal! Room to Read Writer-Ambassadors have teamed with school students all over the country to raise more than $20,000 to buy over 20,000 local-language books for children in the world’s poorest countries.

Australian authors have spent the past four months visiting schools across Australia and inspiring kids to help reach our $20,000 goal. (Room to Read’s writer-ambassador team includes some of Australia’s bestselling children’s authors: Deborah Abela, Jesse Blackadder, Sarah Davis, Kate Forsyth, Gus Gordon, Susanne Gervay, Libby Hathorn, Jacquie Harvey, John Larkin, Melina Marchetta, Sophie Masson, Belinda Murrell, Oliver Phommavanh and Alice Pung.)


There have been BookSwaps, Guessing Competitions, Market Stalls, Drop Everything and Read hours, Embarrass Your Teacher days and dozens of other inventive challenges dreamed up and executed by kids everywhere.

Deborah Abela and Stephen Axelson auctioning artwork at the 2014 SCBWI Conference.
The 2014 Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference held an art auction of illustrations by Bruce Whatley and Stephen Axelson, the challenge was hosted by Room to Read ambassadors Deborah Abela and Susanne Gervay, raising $1400. Author Jesse Blackadder and her partner Andi completed a 350km bike ride in New Zealand, raising $1650. Star of the Sea Catholic School in Gladstone Queensland raised $2154.50.

Josh Lorschy with Room to Read founder, John Wood.
And 14 year-old Sydney schoolboy, filmmaker and activist Josh Lorschy rallied his school, Barker College, to raise a stellar $3160.90. Star of the Sea wins a book prize package from Random House Australia and I will visit Barker College to give a talk on reading, writing and creativity.

Room to Read is one of the most dynamic non-profits on the planet, establishing more than 16,000 school libraries in the developing world, educating more than 28,000 girls and benefiting more than 8.8 million children with their programs over the past fourteen years. Their Destination Literacy goal is to reach 10 million children by December 2015.

HUGE thanks to Room-to-Readers Jennie Orchard, Wendy Rapee, Mihiri Udabage and Janelle Prescott who have supported this year’s World Change Challenge all the way as well as to our writer-ambassadors, sponsor Random House Australia, and all the teachers and students who dug in and made this happen.

            


The 2015 Challenge promises to be better than ever, with a bigger, hairier goal, wilder challenges, even greater student engagement across Australia and more books in the hands of children who, otherwise, would have none. Well done to all!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes


Here's the cover for My Life & Other Massive Mistakes, my third book of semi-autobiographical, weird-funny-gross adventures starring Tom Weekly and illustrated by the one and only Gusto Gordon.

Synopsis:
Have you ever helped your pop escape from a nursing home? Does your teacher have a problem with his bowels? Is your sister an evil genius and criminal mastermind? Have you ever mined your teeth for cash? Is there a girl or boy at school who will stop at nothing to kiss you? And do you know someone with the worst case of nits in world history?

The stories were written during my six-month European / SE Asian family travel adventure late last year and early this year.

Mad Cat by Gus Gordon

My Life 3 hits shelves 1 March 2014. I'll be spending March visiting schools, bookstores, festivals and libraries in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Details on my Events page soon. Hope I catch you on my travels.

In the meantime, you can get hold of the first two books in the series (I hear they make particularly good Crimbo prizes for children ;)

My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up

My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong

Thanks for the enormous support of My Life and Two Wolves this year. I'm super-blessed to be part of an extraordinary network of people who care about reading, storytelling and creativity. And HUGE thanks to reader Ruby Barker who came up with a name for the book in blog comments in my Search for a Title. Ruby will receive a signed set of all three My Life books.


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Winner of My Search For a Young Writer

   

Good news! I have chosen a winner in my 2014 Search for a Young Writer.

It is Otis Mayocchi with his story, 'Champions', about two ultra-competitive brothers who stage a Weet-Bix eating competition that is doomed from the beginning. The story feels personal, authentic, funny and very 'My Life'. It was developed during Brisbane's Bardon Young Writer's Week, a five-day writer's camp that has been running for almost twenty years under the guidance of teacher-librarian Jane-Marie Butler.

Otis wins $100 worth of Random House books and I will be working with him to edit and polish the story over the next couple of months.

Thank you so much to all entrants in the competition. It was a tough decision. Quite a few of the strongest stories were drama rather than comedy so, unfortunately, I couldn't consider them for this search but I loved reading those stories.

The runner-up stories this year were 'Kyle's Style' by Joel Hawkins from TAS, a story with great narrative drive and a very strong central idea, and 'Jess the Barfing Beagle' by Hayley Nankivell from QLD, a disgustingly true story about her own dog.

I am unable to give feedback on every story entered into the competition but I hope that all entrants will continue to develop their stories and writing. I only ever find that my stories start to come together around the fifth or sixth draft and I will often write twenty drafts of a short story, so keep going! You are welcome to re-enter your stories next year if they have been re-written.


Here are some general points that will help to supercharge your stories for 2015:
* The best stories submitted were about one idea. They didn't try to stuff a novel into 1000 words. Short stories should be very simple. The strongest stories had very few locations and very few jumps in time (e.g. 'Three months later...').

* The best stories felt as though they had been rewritten lots of times. The writer knew what the story was about and what it wasn't about. They knew the main character's WANT, they had strong CONFLICT to that want and the character stood to lose something valuable to them (STAKES), even if that stake was as seemingly silly as a loss to a brother in a Weet-Bix eating competition. What matters is that the reader believes it's something valuable to the character. The writers who knew these things were able to strip away paragraphs and ideas that didn't move the story forward. In a short story every word should move the story forward.

* Endings are often very difficult. The ending is easier to write if you know what the character Wants from the very beginning. The ending then becomes a matter of having the character achieve or miss out on their goal. For me, the best short stories do this in a surprising way but the solution to the story still comes from within the story, not from outside.


The 2015 Search For a Young Writer is going to be HUGE with much bigger prizes for writers and schools and major support from Random House Australia. I'll be announcing the search in March when the new book, My Life & Other Massive Mistakes is released. I'll also be putting up lots of tips and checklists that will help with the writing process. And, again, I'll be looking for a short story to publish in an upcoming My Life book. Meantime, try to read a lot, write a lot and live a lot.

Happy writing. I hope to catch you at a talk or workshop in 2015.
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