Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: March 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kids Stink

A funny Tom Weekly story from the slightly warped brains of the author and illustrator of My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up.

Download it Now at:

What's it About?
Think your grandpa's angry? Think again. I'm Tom Weekly and my Pop is the angriest grandpa in Australia. The world, maybe. He hates nurses, harmless marine mammals and kids. Especially kids. Problem is, I have to interview him for school. And I've caught him on a bad day. A real bad day.

Believe me, you do not want to hear what my grandfather has to say. But if you must, then download this short story.
'Kids Stink', Illustrated by Gus Gordon
It's an eBook release so you can pre-order it for $1.01 at Amazon and read it on your Kindle or iPod / iPhone / iPad via the free Kindle app or it's $1.99 at the iTunes store.

If you pre-order now it'll appear on your eReader on the release date, 29 May. I'll add eBook stores as others start stocking it.

What reviewers said about the first Tom Weekly book, My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up:

'These bite-sized bursts of fun are inspired by Paul Jennings, Andrew Daddo and Andy Griffiths, the sort of stories that will keep kids enthralled.' Oliver Phommavanh in Buzz Words Books

'A sort of Aussie tall-tale version of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bancks' latest features stories with a high-level gross-out factor.' Booklist

'Are you ready to laugh? Yes? Good. Because you won't be able to help yourself once you open this cover … Boys will love this book. Fans of Griffiths, Gleitzman and Jennings will be thrilled to have this book in their collection.'

Enter our:   World's Crankiest Grandpa Competition 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

WestWords Fellowship

I am excited to share news that I have been granted a WestWords Fellowship, funded by CAL, the Copyright Agency. I will be developing Earth, an exciting new digital novel project, to be made in collaboration with kids and teens.

WestWords grants are to support writers with a strong connection to greater Western Sydney to develop their writing projects for young people. I spent the first eighteen years of my life living in greater Western Sydney and I am looking forward to working with kids in the region and getting them co-creating the World and Story of this digital project.

Three grants of $7000 were awarded and I am joined by writer and filmmaker Sanaz Fatouhi, chronicling her journeys through Afghanistan and Kavita Bedford who is developing creative non-fiction essays on Western Sydney as part of a broader project on 'place'.

The evolving logo for the project.

My first draft of Earth dates back to 2007 and it has evolved more rapidly in recent years through many late night creative conversations with Story Scrapbook app developer Ben Train.

Story Scrapbook has had thousands of downloads and Earth is the next step, a narrative-driven project that allows kids and teens to use transmedia tools (text, illustration, images, video, music, maps and so on) to co-create a storyworld and novel.

Earth will be previewed at the Speakers Ink school librarians conference Write of Passage at the State Library of QLD on 3 May and at Writers Fests later in the year.

The project will be officially launched with an invitation to collaborate in June. I hope you'll join us.

Big thanks to Judith Ridge and Jodie Polutele at WestWords, the judging panel and the fine folks at CAL for funding creative experimentation and dreams.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Multiplatform StoryWorlds

I recently attended a talk with Mike Jones, screenmedia writer and producer. It was the best transmedia / multiplatform / digital possibilities seminar I have attended in years. Mainly because he focussed not on the daunting array of possibilities but on the similarities between new media storytelling and heritage media storytelling. He is a storyteller first, technologist second, so he made lots of sense.

Here are some of the  ideas that resonated with me:

* 'We falsely assume audiences want 'more' or want to interact. They want none of it. They're not interested in you or your project. Until you compel them to interact.'

* 'It's Evolution, not Revolution.' Novel - Radio - Theatre - Web - eBook - MMORPG - Virtual World - App. A story is still a story. The story has not changed that much since the cave peeps.

* 'Process must change rather than product.' We're still telling stories. For multiplatform we just need to think about them differently. We need to think about Adaptation (how the story can adapt to multiple forms) from the beginning so that we know we are creating a storyworld big enough to explore through several different media.

* Think World first, then Plot. Pressurise the storyworld to find the plots.

* Give the audience Agency, a meaningful role in the story.

* Reward them for their input. Motivation - Action - Reward

And the thing I liked most, that should catapult us all into multi-modal action:

* Brainstorm the possibilities for your story across a broad array of platforms (not all stories suit a multiplatform approach), then choose the two or three that fit the story and that you will focus on. Don't feel that you have to tackle six platforms at once. Choose those that will deepen the story experience for the audience.

I recommend reading Mike Jones's blog and following him on Twitter @mikejonestv and if you have a chance to hear him speak, do it. (Thanks to Screenworks for inviting Mike to share his wisdom.)


Monday, March 11, 2013

Read Across the Universe

This year's Children's Book Week theme is 'Read Across the Universe'. It's great encouragement for all of us to read broadly and I would like to offer a free one-hour Skype author talk or Google Hangout to the school or library that creates the best Book Week  display or event around my book Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space. See if you can beat the one above (which I think is really cool, created by students at Brisbane's John Paul College).

Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space is a Middle-Grade action-adventure story about the first five kids and teens chosen for the civilian space travel program. The five are subjected to intense training on the centrifuge, the vomit comet, the vestibular chair, as well as being forced to leap from a plane – some of the real-life training tools for space travellers. The non-fiction section at the back of the book shares the most interesting information that I discovered while writing plus a quiz for the would-be space traveller.

All pics of Galactic Adventures displays and stunts will be featured here on the blog during Book Week and the best will win the author talk.

Good luck!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sideways Stories From Wayside School Story Starters

This morning my sons and I used Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School as a jumping-off point for our weekly writing session. We have been reading the book before bed and all loving the unexpected, topsy-turvy world that Sachar has created – thirty short stories from the thirtieth storey of Wayside School.

Here are the Story Starters we used...

1) Hot chocolate and marshmallows are a good way to warm up for any writing session. 

2) We did five minutes of 'Anything Goes'. Start writing and keep going flat out for five minutes, even if you don't know what the next word will be off your pencil. It's a great way to throw self-consciousness and perfectionism out the window.

3) I gave the boys an eleven-question character breakdown and ten minutes to create a character who might go to Wayside School. (Each chapter in the book is about a different student in Mrs Jewls's class on the thirtieth storey.

4) Once the characters were created (a class clown named Tony who gets in trouble for throwing a banana in a food fight, and a kid called 'Funky Monkey' who is in love with his teacher, but his teacher despises him) they wrote a story each about that character. Ten minutes, flat out, no speaking. And go.

5) Next, we had a fifteen-minute soccer game and I read them a short story from the book I'm writing, My Life & Other Stuff That Went WrongWe pulled it apart and decided that the twist at the very end needed work.

6) Finally, they were asked to spend five minutes building a Lego character from their millions of mini-figure parts and to write a ten-minute story about that character showing up at Sideways School.

Next week, we'll go over all the stories we've started since January, choose one, finish it and start rewriting.

For more Story Starters click here. (Don't forget to pick up a copy of Sachar's Sideways Stories, recommended to me by kidlit guru, Mike Shuttleworth.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Top 10 Middle-Grade Books

1. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
I am presenting a talk this week on reading for middle-graders so I have assembled, here, my top ten middle-grade reads. It is a slippery category and many of these books appeal to older and younger peeps but I have tried to shoot for amazing reads for ten to fourteen year-olds. (And me.) These books are page-turning and engaging on the surface and richly layered beneath with characters that live with you beyond the page.

2. Holes by Louis Sachar
3. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

5. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

6. Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos

7. Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer
8. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

9. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
10. Once by Morris Gleitzman
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