This opportunity, offered to me by a boy named Kit at a school talk in Nelson, sums up why I write for kids. They have no fear and no filters. Their heads aren’t clogged with mortgages, work woes or what to cook for dinner. So they’re not allowed ice cream for dinner, or to stay up past ‘X-Factor,’ but nothing tops climbing trees, licking the bowl or having a fist fight with your best mate.

For the past ten years I’d focused on writing non-fiction travel (UK on a G-StringBowling Through India) as well as humour (Kiwi SpeakRugby Speak). In truth, I wanted to write middle-grade fiction, like my hero Roald Dahl. But first I had to meet someone who knew what they were doing. That someone was Joy Cowley, who I accosted one day at the Story Lines festival in Auckland. A few days later – when she’d read my stories – she agreed to be my ‘Yoda.’ She is a very generous and smart lady.

Then one day I had the idea for Shot, Boom, Score! It came while on the sideline at my daughters’ soccer match. Like many kids, sport played a major role in my childhood. As did rewards for doing well. Many a parent has bribed their kids with a ‘pie for a try’ or ‘movie tickets for a wicket.’ With Toby in Shot, Boom, Score! I wanted to take this theme to a new level. Here is a boy who struggles with school, but excels at sport. When his father sets him the GameBox V3 Challenge Toby thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Sadly, he hasn’t accounted for class bully Malcolm McGarvy – who does his best to ruin the party.

Kids can be ruthless critics. If something stinks they’ll let you know. So it was with a certain amount of relief when my nine-year-old daughter Sophie (who was having Shot, Boom, Score! read to her class) came home and said, ‘Dad, even the bullies love this story – and they never share their feelings!’ Here’s hoping many other kids enjoy the book.

P.S. I did end up dedicating a novel to Kit, but as of yet haven’t seen any money.

Bowling Through India was a was one of those trips where something happened almost every five minutes. Which of course became perfect fodder for a travel book. Stephen Singh of Birmingham wrote to me today and asked: ‘Have you ever feared for your life during any of your travel writing stints?’

There was the car crash in the game reserve in Namibia. (Our car had to be lifted from rocks by 15 burly locals.) And I seriously thought I’d end up in A and E boogie boarding down the Zambezi River.

This question, however, took me to the place where many others had lost their lives: a cemetery in Varanasi, India. Our cricket team, consisting of five New Zealanders, decided to challenge the local village to a game. It was a bizarre, beautiful experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you tune into Radio New Zealand on Saturdays and Sundays you’ll hear Shot, Boom, Score! being read on Storytime Treasure Chest. You can either catch it live or listen to the MP3s. It’s my junior novel for 8-12 year olds and was recently won a Notable Book Award at Storylines Festival. Enjoy.

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May already? They say our lives go faster because we do the same thing every day, over and over. So today I’m writing this in a submarine off the coast of Ghana. I’ve also started lying more.

Some news. I was stoked to recently receive a Notable Book Award at Margaret Mahy Day for my junior fiction novel, ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ There are some legendary names on that list, so I was very happy. I took my Mum along and she behaved, unlike at the ‘Wicked’ stage show after party. (Love you, Lyn.)

In other news, I am excited to be on a brand new drive show on a brand new radio station with the ultimate co-host, Stacey Morrison. Our on-air rule has always been, if it’s in your head, you gotta say it.

Let the Wild Rumpus start!

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kiwiana goes pop

kiqi

A while back the first Kiwiana Goes Pop album was released featuring my song Good Keen Metrosexual. Kiwiana Goes Pop 2 is out now and features Billy T James, John Clarke and Tim Finn’s little known song ‘Runs in the Family.’ The old TV ads on the album are a good laugh. Fiona McDonald (Columbine pantyhose), Annie Crummer (Soda Stream) and Hugo Said You Go (KFC). Not to forget The Miramar Chess Club with this brilliant Rugby World Cup song. I snuck onto the album with my song ‘Great Place To Bring Up the Kids, a satirical (sometimes acerbic) look at life from my book Myth New Zealand. Random, weird, nostalgic collection. Enjoy!

PS. Brilliant artwork by Lester Hall

Varanasi Ganges

During our life-changing journey that became the bestselling book Bowling Through India, it was somewhat ironic the Black Craps (as our five man cricket side was known) should end up playing cricket in a cemetery in Varanasi, otherwise known as the City of Life. The tombstones were used as stumps and a Catholic caretaker tried his best to keep games to a minimum – until we turned up. Thanks to The VC and photographer Brendon O’Hagan for providing this slideshow of our unforgettable match.

shop big attitude

shop big attitude

In my children’s novel ‘Shot, Boom, Score’ the main character (Toby) often visits his grandma in her second-hand shop named ‘Junk and Disorderly.’ The inspiration for this came from a nearby shoe repair store, whose owners told banks on either side to bugger off when they wanted to bowl its premises. The grandma in my novel finds herself in a similar situation as told by Toby in chapter two:

Today I went to visit my grandma. She owns a shop on the main street in the middle of town called ‘Junk and Disorderly’. It sells really old things, like paintings and chairs and tables you normally only see in old photos. But she’s also got cool stuff, like a wind-up monkey with wheels instead of feet, and lots of medals from the war. There’s a medal in a locked cabinet no one is allowed to touch, not even me. It’s a shiny gold five-pointed star with a red-and-blue ribbon. It has a ‘GRI’ written on it in big curly writing, and ‘The African Star’ in eeny-weeny writing. Grandma told me the medal is worth a lot of money. Every time I visit I go straight to that cabinet and look at the medal. It’s almost my favourite thing in the shop, apart from the pinball machine with lots of girls with no clothes on.

UK On A G-String

I’m happy to say that two of my travel books are now available to read on your Kindle. UK on a G-string is a tale about door-to-door-busking (I only had one song) around the Motherland and trying to make enough money for a flight home. The US version is called One Man, 23 Beers and a Crazy Bet. Next on my bucket list was an attempt to play golf around the U.S with whoever featured on the front page of the newspaper. In Search of Swingers was the result: a terrifying, yet liberating, glorious failure, full of crazy characters and surprisingly, very little golf. For more info on these titles head to my website. Enjoy!