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The little big school

STORY INSPIRATION

This book appeared shortly after the Victorian State Government began to close a frightening number of small schools, then selling the sites to private developers. I was aware how difficult it is for most children to make such a change and wanted to assure them that not all will be lost.

Captain Gallant

WHAT INSPIRED THIS STORY

The idea of a story for very new readers with a science fiction theme had long intrigued me. However, “Captain Gallant” came out of a grandson’s request. A poor reader, he watched a lot of TV where cartoons were often based in science fiction and fantasy. But he couldn’t find any books to match his reading age. Thus I created “Captain Gallant”, which is simple to read but adventurous enough to satisfy any Sci Fi aficionado.

There is also a story behind the illustrations. Dion Hammil, the talented young artist, found me via the internet. Though we have never actually come face to face, so far worked he has illustrated five of my books. I’m still waiting for the day that we actually meet in person.

 

A hairy story

WHAT INSPIRED THIS STORY?

This is my favourite’ read aloud’ when I am with a class of young children. I like its simplicity, yet the way it goes ‘over the top’ as the hair continues to grow. It is the age old tale of being granted three wishes, but the result being not what the wisher expected.

Most children have experienced going to the hairdresser and disliking the result. So this is another way of accepting what we finally see in the mirror. Hair grows back, doesn’t it? Sandra’s illustrations wonderfully illuminate all that excess growing high enough to engulf a plane.

This was my response when asked if people are still reading

‘No one reads anymore,’ said a young critic after asking what I do for a living. He had me thinking. Can this be true? In the twenty-first century, are there too many other ways to use our imaginations? Have we become viewers, players and listeners instead? It seems that a percentage of youngsters remain functionally illiterate but graphically, they can manage to read the signs. How will these kids operate in a world that demands the ability to read in order to gain a driver’s licence, run a computer, handle money and even understand the contents of a supermarket shelf? Is there anything we authors can do to make the learning process less arduous?

Playing with words and ideas is what we writers do. We can help our audience solve current situations, take them into the past, help them imagine the future, or travel to far away lands. It’s just a question of how we do it. Words? Graphics? Illustrations? Audio? Performance? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be assured that our present loneliness or sadness must surely pass. Ultimately, the best thing about reading is that it can offer the reader comfort in what is often a difficult and puzzling world.

So my advice to aspiring writers is to read your work over community radio. That’s one way of honing your technique. Community radios often have segments for new writers’ works and are usually happy to provide airspace. There’s nothing like listening to yourself on playback to allow the message of careful slow reading to sink in. I have often read a new work into a tape recorder or over radio only to realise how much more editing was needed. The experience can be most salutary. And don’t forget your local school. Schools love writers coming in to read their work. Those young listeners are highly critical, and you will soon learn when your work is overlong, or boring or not correctly pitched to your audience.

Also thank heavens for audio books. They are another way of reaching a wider audience as busy folk work, walk, cycle and drive. Only I sometimes find that even professional readers speak too quickly when they have to compete with noisy traffic. Just like less can be more, maybe slow can be faster?

 

 

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WHAT INSPIRED THIS STORY?

“ I have always been fond of science fiction. Through science fiction, a writer can create a whole world with its own clothes, music, language and customs.

My second reason is that I admire spiders. I see them as interesting insects with some amazing skills in climbing and spinning. Nevertheless, lots of people find them scary. So it seemed a fun idea to create a peace loving alien who just happens to look like a spider but who also has a very likeable personality.”

 

 

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