Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: April 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Michael Pryor, Laws of Magic Author: The Writer's Studio

 Where did you write your latest book?
In my study, at my computer. I’ve written twenty-two of my twenty-five books here.
How important to you is the space that you write in?
It’s my workplace. When I sit down here, I’m in writing mode. I also have many of my writing tools within easy reach – filing cabinets, printer, dictionary, thesaurus, reference books, scanner, phone.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book?
The stack of reference books will be different for each book, and the photos on the wall tend to change. They’re there as visual stimulus, so when I stop typing and drift off, my eye lands on them and gets me thinking about details of clothing, architecture, posture …
Do you 'get into character' at all?
Strange things happen. Sometimes, when writing an action scene, I find I have to act it out to get the physical sequence correct. This is especially so for fight scenes. I stand up, then twist, bend, throw myself about, then jump back on the computer to write it all up.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
I’ve accumulated my wall photos, overlapping old ones, adding maps and diagrams. It’s a rich source of ideas.
Do you keep regular writing hours? What are they? If not, when do you write?
I aim to be at the desk writing by 9.30. I take half an hour or so for lunch, then write for another few hours in the afternoon. That’s pretty standard, but I might have to do more, depending on how close that deadline is …
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
I take the dog for a walk each morning before getting down to write. It helps my fitness, which can get a bit dicey, sitting down for much of the day, and it also gives me time to think away from the screen, kicking around ideas, coming up with alternatives.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mac Slater Vs. The City US Tour

I've just returned from a two-week book tour, taking in LA, New Jersey and New York. It was an extraordinary journey for me, visiting the locations from my book, Mac Slater Vs. The City, which I was in the US to launch. Here is the trip in images, and a few words. 
My visit to Oakmont Elementary School in Claremont outside LA was my first-ever US school visit. The kids were super-enthusiastic and made me feel very welcome.
Signing books at Holy Name of Mary School, San Dimas California.
At Dodger Stadium for Dodgers Vs. Giants. Dodgers won. The game was an amazing spectacle. The Dodger Dog with mustard and sauce was a little scary.

I visited head office of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in Los Angeles.
Visiting SCBWI HQ in LA with kidlit guru and social media expert Greg Pincus.
The obligatory two-headed turtle shot, Venice Beach, California.
With Tempany Deckert, my co-author on it's yr life, a YA book that we wrote via email between Australia and LA.
Caught mid-flight with a friend, amazing actor and voice artist, Brian Donovan.
At LAX, trying to capture the journey on paper as it unfolded.
New York has been invaded by bed bugs. This giant inflatable bug on Lexington Avenue warned me of the dangers.
At a book-signing at Books & Greetings, Northvale, New Jersey. I visited quite a few schools and stores on my journey.

A very cool electronic robot invented by a student at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Norwood, New Jersey.
The Chrysler Building, NY, NY. One of my favourite buildings in the city.
Economy Candy, another of my favourite buildings in the city.
The Flatiron Building, corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.
New York Public Library. I could spend days, weeks, years inside this  building.
Working through 1st pages of my new Australian book, 'My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up' in a
Greenwich Village Cafe
Skyping the folks back home from the ubiquitous Starbucks.
Meeting the team from Simon & Schuster: Bernadette Cruz, Courtney Bongiolatti and Julia Maguire.  I have been working with them for two years but, to this point, only via email. They were lots of fun and gave me a bunch of great new books to read.

The tour was a fun ride full of good humans, great meetings and possibility. And, as always, travel stimulated lots of new story ideas.

One day in NY I visited as many locations from Mac Slater Vs. The City as I could. Will upload the adventure to Youtube in coming weeks.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Brian Falkner - The Writer's Studio

‘Just the action of walking around the house seems to free up little scraps of ideas that get stuck in the chute on the way out.’
- Brian Falkner

Children's and YA Author Brian Falkner

I am fascinated by where children’s and YA authors write. In this blog series, The Writer's Studio, prominent authors open up their writing space for us to see inside. This week it’s Brian Falkner, the hugely popular author of action-adventure novels The Tomorrow Code, Brainjack and The Project.
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space that you write in?
I write anywhere. I don’t really have a special place, although I do have an office in my home where I do most of my work. However I could be sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or on the beach, or (and this is quite common) in a café or on a sofa at a shopping mall. I find the act of writing transports me away from my surroundings.

Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you 'get into character' at all?
I don’t transform the space, but I do change the sound-space, with music. Music can carry all kinds of different emotions and I will often pick a piece of music that suits the chapter I am writing, to help me get into the right emotional place. I have heard that other authors also use this technique, and call it “Setting the Tone”.
Brian Falkner's writing studio in Auckland, an old library.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
Only because of geographic displacement. (A little like continental drift, but not as slow).
I was a resident writer at the University of Iowa in 2008 for three months, so that changed my writing space: I was in a different house in a different country. 
I now live in Australia, so that has also changed my writing space.
In Auckland I had a writing studio, which was actually an old library. It was over a hundred years old and full of old books, but no longer used as a library. It was a great, musty, dusty old place to write, surrounded by bookshelves and books.

Do you keep regular writing hours? What are they? If not, when do you write?
I prefer to write new stuff in the morning, when I am freshest. I try not to work in the afternoons, and I edit my work in the evenings. This just seems to suit me, and what my brain is capable of achieving at various times of the day.
The Project by Brian Falkner
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
Eating. But I try not to. Actually that’s more of an excuse for when I get stuck. I get up, go and open the pantry, and hopefully close it again, then go back to work. Just the action of walking around the house seems to free up little scraps of ideas that get stuck in the chute on the way out.

Next up in The Writer's Studio is Michael Pryor, author of The Laws of Magic series.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New York Public Library Reading Room

I spent the afternoon reading Jon Scieszka's Guys Write for Guys Read (a collection of short stories by amazing kids' writers) and gazing up at this beautiful vaulted ceiling in the infamous New York Public Library reading room. Sweet justice.

Will blog the rest of my US book tour adventures soon.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight - Galactic Adventures First Kids in Space

On 12 April it's been fifty years since the first human being went into space. And, in July, the first kids will go to space.

Here's the cover for my July middle-grade novel Galactic Adventures First Kids in Space. I really like it and I've been showing it to kids in schools and they seem to dig it, too. Boys in particular. Here's a link for the blurb and more info:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

HUNT COOL - Behind-the-Scenes on Mac Slater


Here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes stuff that tells you how I came to write two books about a Coolhunter and how Mac became an inventor, desperate to get a flying bike in the air.

I stumbled across the idea of coolhunting on the web and it seemed like the ultimate job – finding stuff you love and telling people about it (kind of like we all do on Instagram, only some Coolhunters get paid to do it. That's their job). It occurred to me that there was lots of potential for fast-paced drama in a story about coolhunting. A story set in the world of coolhunting is also a good chance to explore stuff to do with innovation and creativity and ‘things’, whether we need lots of things or if we just consume stuff because other people want us to. I’m always split between desire for ‘stuff’ and wanting to live very simply. Mac Slater is, too. Mac comes from a laidback, hippie background and is then thrust into the commercial, global-roaming world of coolhunting.

There are some coolhunting links below but, really, it’s up to your own individual taste to find the corners of the web and the world that you love most. Like Mac, it’s up to you to redefine what’s ‘cool’ and to celebrate all the weird and kooky stuff about yourself.

Pics on this page by Amber Melody.

The Definitive Coolhunting Article

Australian Coolhunting Site

Flow – Mac’s Idea of Cool

Inspiration for Mac’s Flying Bike

The initial inspiration for Mac’s flying bike came from an interview that I read with Australian actor Eric Bana (The Hulk), who was talking about the crazy stuff he used to do as a kid. One of those things was to do jumps on his bike, cruising over a group of kids lying beneath a ramp. That’s where the first chapter came from, which evolved into Mac’s attempt to make his bike fly.

Before and during the writing process I visited a ton of websites. Here are just a few links that inspired the development of Mac’s flying bike:

Goofy inventions and patents

Flyke Australia – three-wheeled flying machines in the sky


Young Inventors

Mac and his best friend Paul are inventors. And did you know that some of the world’s most incredible inventions have been developed by kids and teens? So, what are you doing? Start creating. What do you see around you that could be better? Check out these young inventors for inspiration:

>> Justin Lewis and Matthew Ballick invented a new toy called ‘Flip-Itz’ when they were just eight and nine years old. It’s based on a little white piece of plastic found in a pizza container. They discovered that it could flip and fly and the two boys turned it into a popular toy.

>> George Nissen invented the modern trampoline when he was somewhere between the ages of sixteen and twenty. Legend has it that he made it out of stuff he found at a junkyard and built it in his parents’ garage. Then he took trampolining to the world.

>> Louis Braille invented a reading system for blind people when he was just fifteen years old. Braille is a series of raised dots, giving blind people a better chance to learn and communicate, and it’s now used across the world.

>> Bro and sister team, Elise and Evan Macmillan, started selling chocolates when they were just ten years old. They set up a wildly successful web-based business called The Chocolate Farm and were featured on Oprah and in The Wall Street Journal.

>> Philo T. Farnsworth developed his ideas for electronic television around the age of fourteen. He also patented over 300 other inventions in his lifetime.

Got an invention idea of your own? Here’s a cool site for innovators, inventors and designers featuring kids and teens who are taking on the world with their creations.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Mac Slater Hunts the Cool

'Reading Tristan Bancks is like jumping on a rollercoaster – fun, exciting and a bit dangerous, too. Where were books like this when I was a kid?’
- John Boyne, New York Times Best-Selling Author, The Boy in
the Striped Pyjamas

Aus Covers...

US Covers...
'Mac Slater Hunts the Cool' listed in YALSA's Popular Paperbacks 2012

Mac Slater's Map of NYC

>> Check Out Author Tristan Bancks' NYC Tour 

>> Buy a Book

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