When I was five years-old I did a runner from the dentist. My grandfather depicted the epic escape in this illustration. Now, I’m writing a story inspired by it for my fourth My Life book of semi-autobiographical short stories.
Alongside the story, I’m going to include a list of the worst dentist trips in the world ever. I’ve been brainstorming with kids in schools and I would love you to add your horrendous dentist experiences, too.
Leave your idea below as a blog comment (Click ‘Comment’), include your first name and, if I include your idea, your name will be in My Life book 4 (out March 2016)!
Messy Brainstorm with Shailer Park SHS students for Worst Dentist Trip Ever list. Some great ideas.
Nicki Greenberg is a writer, illustrator and comic artist. She has re-interpreted The Great Gatsby and Hamlet as well as creating her own wildly original works. Here, she talks coffee, morning rituals and how her physical space impacts on her creative output. (She also has one of the most inspiring work spaces seen in The Writer’s Studio.)
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
I wrote/illustrated my last three books – Hamlet, Monkey Red Monkey Blue and BOM! Went the Bear, plus part of The Great Gatsby, in my studio at home, which I call my “drawing room”. My drawing room is enormously important to me as a dedicated space where I can spread out my scribbling gear, my research and source material and all the piles of paper that accumulate whenever I am at work. I have a lot of odd scraps of paper and pictures blu-tacked onto the walls for inspiration, and for the happy feeling of being surrounded by beautiful and interesting images.
My drawing room has two desks in it – one for drawing and one for computer work. While the two types of work complement each other and are both essential to the books that I do, I like them to be separate spaces. For Hamlet, which required a lot of involved Photoshop work, I was still using an ancient PC. I’ve since moved to a Mac and am astounded that I was able to do such a big project on the old clunker.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
When I am working on a book I like to add pictures to the walls as points of reference or for stimulation. For example, when working on Hamlet I drew inspiration for the background stage sets from a card that a friend had sent me showing a section of a painting by Vittorio Zecchin. I kept it on the wall as close to eye level as possible so that I could take “sips” of it whenever I felt like it. As I finish one book and start another, I tend to keep the older material up on the wall for sentimental reasons, and also because they are images that I really enjoy. For the last two books I strung a wire across my desk so that I could peg finished artwork on it to refer to while working on other pages.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
I have had a “drawing room” in every house I’ve lived in for the past eleven years, and have carried my blue-tacked bits of paper from house to house. This room is certainly the nicest, with a large window onto the garden. It has evolved by becoming fuller and more cluttered despite my frequent attempts to purge and tidy. For a long time I used to also write and draw in local cafes, pubs and during one month of renovations, in the local library. This was only for preparatory work – research, sketchpad scribbling, concept work, notes and brainstorming and some rough drafts. For the time-consuming and meticulous work of the final drawings, I need to work in my room with all my gear.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
Before my two darling girls were born, I worked to a very strict schedule. I used to work part-time (and before that, full-time) as a lawyer, so I had to be very disciplined about making (and using!) regular time for working on my books. When I was at the office full time and working on Gatsby, I drew every morning before work. When I went part-time, I spent my home days drawing from about 8am to 6pm, often without a break. Now, with a baby and a toddler, I just have to seize my moments when I can! It has been a learning experience, as I was very accustomed to devising and sticking to a strict work schedule. Now I have to be more flexible and work in fits and starts.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
My morning ritual when I worked on Gatsby was to make a powerful double espresso and drink it from a little bone china cup with a rose on it as I began to work. By the time I was doing Hamlet, I had switched to tea brewed in a teapot which I painted for my husband. I still remember with fondness the rush of the coffee, and how it lifted me into the swing of early morning drawing sessions. When I have coffee now, it reminds me of that time.
Next week, legendary children’s author Isobelle Carmody (The Obernewtyn Chronicles and the upcoming Metro Winds) will be sharing her writing spaces in Prague and the Great Ocean Road. Some beautiful images and video to share in The Writer’s Studio.
Have you ever been kissed by a dog? Ever had to eat Vegemite off your sister’s big toe? Have you had a job delivering teeth? Has a bloodthirsty magpie ever been out to get you? Ever woken up to discover that everything hovers? And have you eaten 67 hot dogs in ten minutes?
I have. I’m Tom Weekly. This book is full of my stories, jokes, cartoon characters, ideas for theme park rides and other stuff I’ve made up. It’s where I pour out whatever’s inside my head. It gets a bit weird sometimes but that’s how I roll.
Learn to draw My Life’s Tom Weekly in this 41-second masterclass with illustrator, Gus Gordon.
Download 3 Colouring-In Pages
Author Note From Tristan Bancks
All stories are part fact and part fiction. Even history is part fact and part fiction. Many of the stories in My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up sprang from things that have happened to me. I then supercharged those stories to make for a series of (hopefully) funny and surprising tales.
I grew up reading Paul Jennings books like Unreal, Unbelieveable and Quirky Tails. I loved these books. Nobody else, at the time, other than Roald Dahl, was writing surprising, funny, odd tales for children quite like these. I have used my love of those stories to inspire my own writing. As a kid I always jotted my ideas down in exercise books and notebooks. I didn’t know what I would do with them but I just had to get them down.
I encourage all kids, in fact all humans, to get your ideas down – ideas for stories, movies, inventions, video games, jokes, cartoon characters and just general thoughts on life. You never know when they might come in handy. This book looks and feels a bit like one of my notepads as a kid, with pictures and weird, funny stories and things that would make me laugh. A book like this is a space for you to make their own, to come back to, and to feel safe to explore. As soon as you can write, get yourself a book like this where you can be bold and adventurous without needing to be ‘right’ or having to prove anything to anybody.
Illustrator note From Gus Gordon
Tom Weekly reminded me very much of my 12-year-old self. It wasn’t too difficult a task to channel the random thoughts of that younger, fantastically naïve, enthusiastic, imaginative boy as it is pretty much how I am today. I still, like Tom, daydream about incredible situations and still have the propensity to think in a random, fractured manner, jumping from thought to thought with no real segue as if I am picking my thoughts out of a hat. Drawing for me was the most efficient way of communicating these unorganised ideas. Off-kilter illustrations and pointless list writing were a speciality of mine.I drew in every class, in every margin on everything and anything I had in front of me. This kind of fervour – the need to express myself through drawing – was how I approached the illustrations, or more specifically, how I saw Tom drawing them – a natural extension of his rambling imagination.
The subjects (awkward encounters, girls, gross bodily functions, eating) were also all too familiar to me. Whether it was a panicked list about an operation, escaping false teeth or a drawing of a floating poo, it all felt disturbingly normal. Obviously it was the same for Tom!
What Kids and Critics Are Saying:
‘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 (US)
‘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.’ – www.kids-bookreview.com
‘Tristan Bancks books are really funny and I love them! My favourite book that he made was My life and other stuff I made up. In fact I was at his writers workshop at Warrigal Road State school. I definitely recommend his books for everyone.’ – BJ, reader.