Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Life & Other Exploding Chickens

'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

Have you ever done a runner from the dentist? Are you petrified of clowns? 
Have giant headlice tried to eat you alive? Yes? Well, this book is for you.

Here's my new book My Life & Other Exploding Chickens, out 1 March! It's illustrated by artist and madman Gus Gordon and it's the fourth book in our weird-funny-gross, semi-autobiographical My Life series starring Tom Weekly and it asks all of life's big questions. Stuff like...


Have you ever done a runner from the dentist? Are you petrified of clowns? Have giant headlice tried to eat you? Have you ever been attacked by Library Ninjas when your book was five years overdue? And have you come up with a genius way to never do homework again? All of these things have happened to me. I'm Tom Weekly. My life is an exploding chicken and the book in your hands is my attempt to glue it back together again.


play the exploding chickens game (COMING SOON!)

Exploding Chickens game designed by Raph Atkins who also named the book!
Exploding Chicken by Gus Gordon

Exploding Chickens will land in bookstores March 2016 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, Perth, Tasmania and lots of regional centres. Keep an eye on my Events page for details.

The stories and illustrations are madder than ever and Gus and I can't wait to share them. But be afraid. The nits are coming. And they bite.
Killer Nits by Gus Gordon



Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 Adventures in the World of Kids' Books

2015 has been a HUGE year in the world of children's and teen literature. It continues to be one of the strongest and most exciting corners of the book industry. Stores are expanding their kids' and Young Adult sections, Storytime in libraries has parents queuing out the door, the #LoveOzYA movement has been a great success and more and more schools and libraries are running their own literary festivals.

Here are my highlights of the year. If you have blogged your own 2015 highlights from kids' book world, please leave a link in comments below.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I hope you read some incredible books over the holidays.

Disclaimer: My life is not all as fun and interesting as it looks in these images. I've chosen the good bits because I thought you'd like those best. But there are many, many boring moments and challenges, too.

I spent March on the road visiting schools everywhere,
bringing the books to life and hopefully inspiring kids to read and create.
And sometimes scaring them.
Hosting Sydney Writers Festival Primary School Days was a particularly fun week. Such energetic audiences and some brilliant authors on the bill. (Here, with Andy Griffiths and Jacqueline Harvey backstage at Sydney Theatre.)
At SWF I had the chance to interview author Anthony Horowitz onstage each day. His Alex Rider books are still the perfect weapon to inspire late primary and high schoolers (particularly boys, I would say) to pick up a book.
In the lead-up to the festival I interviewed James Patterson at Parramatta Riverside Theatre while illustrator Martin Chatterton drew caricatures of us. It was fascinating to gain intimate insight into the world's bestselling author. The sun never sets on the Patterson empire.
Early in the year I worked with a bunch of talented folks to produce 'The Great Escape', a trailer for my book My Life & Other Massive Mistakes about a nursing home riot.

There were lots of opportunities to marry TV and books, which I love to do. It's a great way to build the profile of children's books and the importance of reading. The cool cats at the Daily Edition looked after me well.
I wouldn't be an Australian children's author if I didn't get slimed at least annually.
ABC3 had a massive focus on kids' and teen books this year, particularly in Book Week when this happened!
Who'd have thought that someone with my degree of musical talent could ever be on the Splendour bill? Anything is possible. Follow your dreams, kids. ;)
I've been working all year on stories for the next My Life book, out March 2016. 'Dr Bent' is a story inspired by my grandfather's depiction of the runner I did from the dentist as a kid. This picture hung on my bedroom wall throughout my childhood.

I enjoyed meeting this giraffe.

And this frog.
And we were very sad to farewell this guy, Boston, but very happy to have known him.
Book Week gave me a chance to catch up with Gus Gordon, whose laugh-out-loud illustrations for My Life & Other Exploding Chickens are starting to come in.
With a fun and supportive group of authors and illustrators at the KOALA Awards. (L-R Oliver Phommavanh, Me, Duncan Ball, John Heffernan, Jules Faber, Deborah Abela, Frances Watts.)
Clearly I need to stop writing outdoors. I promise it's not a spray tan.
(L-R Me, Rachel Spratt, James Patterson, Jacqueline Harvey, Martin Chatterton, Belinda Murrell.)
Excerpt from my book Two Wolves. Calligraphy by Claire Atkins who has been an enormous help and very inspiring to me this year.
Cheesy grin brought to you by the pride of standing onstage with talented creatives like Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood when Two Wolves won Honour Book in the CBCA Awards.

Being photo-bombed by Arts Minister Mitch Fifield and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Prime Minister's Literary Awards at Carriageworks in Sydney. ;) Two Wolves was up for the kids' prize, won by David Metzenthen and Michael Camilleri's brilliant picture book One Minute's Silence.

I've spent September to December finishing off the new My Life book and continuing to work on a new middle-grade 'mortality fiction' novel. I try to work outdoors when possible. My wife, Amber, and I recently shot this video on outdoor writing to coincide with the North American release of On the Run (Two Wolves).

And perhaps the greatest achievement of the year... Raising $45,000 to buy books for kids in Nepal in partnership with Australian and Hong Kong school students and our dynamic Room to Read Writer-Ambassador team. :)))


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Well, what fine news! I had no idea that the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were about to be announced and no inkling that Two Wolves would be among the nominated books. But it is. In the Children's category alongside some very fine authors and illustrators (see image below).

It is an exceptional piece of news to cap a very good year for the book. I think of the years I spent writing it at home and in cafes and on the beach and in the car and in five-minute writing dashes during school workshops asking myself over and over again, 'What is the story about? How is it me? Why do I understand this story so deeply?' It was unlike anything I had ever written and I really didn't know if it would find an audience but I felt compelled to keep writing through my fear. I was daring myself to write something more reflexive and honest and it seems to have resonated with readers.

An award or nomination doesn't make it any easier to write the next book (I'm three-and-a-half years and four drafts into writing another book working-titled The Fall) but it does give you confidence to keep digging down into your ideas, to embrace the mystery and to know that someone, somewhere might understand what you were trying to say.

[Two Wolves came out in the US last week as On the Run. It's still set in Australia but I had to provide guidance on Caramel Koalas, Ned Kelly and thongs (Americans don't wear them on their feet). Actually, there are no thongs in the book but I use this gag in school talks and it seems to get a laugh. I will put thongs in my next book. And emus.]

Thanks to the extraordinary editorial and marketing team at Penguin Random House, Sophie Hamley and Catherine Drayton for having faith in the book. Good on the Australian government for offering such a valuable and important literary prize to Australian writers. And good luck to all the writers nominated and, please, if you're looking for something to read, take a look at the shortlist.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer review

Review of Jen Storer's The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack (illustrated by Lucinda Gifford) by guest reviewer Ella Sharpe, bookseller at The Younger Sun Children's Bookshop in Melbourne.

Ever since leaving England for Australia, Angus, his sister Martha and their father have moved constantly. Their latest move sees them in a dilapidated old neighbourhood next door to a peculiar old woman with a taste for sugar and a shop full of useless junk (or so Angus thinks). The summer starts off strange with weird smells in the middle of the night, snow globes that freeze you when touched and midnight serenades coming from the odd shop next door. Angus tries to tell himself it’s just loneliness and the weird neighbourhood playing tricks on his mind. But when two goblin girls rob his neighbour’s shop, Angus gets caught up in a battle of the Old Realm and the New World, of goblins and Viking magick, and it turns out he has much a bigger part to play than anyone could have ever imagined.

This book is full of vibrant characters and eerie landscapes. Interspersed with Norse Mythology and witchcraft, this is a perfect book for anyone interested in adventure, magick, Vikings and goblins.

Don’t let the slow beginning of the book put you off, it sets the tone for what is an amazing, magickal adventure!

Reading Age Recommendation – 8 +


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ON THE RUN How it Was Written

One week to go before the US release of my Middle-Grade adventure novel On the Run (Farrar Straus Giroux), released in Australia as Two Wolves (Penguin-Random House Australia).

I've made a short video (1:45) taking you behind the scenes on the writing process of the book. I wrote a lot of it outdoors and this video takes you on to the beaches and into the hinterland of Byron Bay Australia where the book was made.

© Tristan Bancks | Australian Children's & Teen Author | Kids' & YA Books. All rights reserved.
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