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.

school poster

Life's what gets in the way when you're busy making other plans

It’s been a busy time and I’ve been slack with the blog. Still, here we are, finally. I’ve been having a lot of fun doing school talks all over Auckland. The kids are brilliantly funny and ask memorable questions. Some schools, like Mt Eden, even send you hand drawn covers of your book (pictured.) Thank you! Otherwise, I have been head down bum up working on a new novel which I’ve been told is too scary for adults, but just right for kids. Also, my first travel book ‘UK on a G-String’ will soon be available on Kindle. Will keep you in the loop. Happy weekend wherever you are.

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I spoke to a great group at Stanley Bay Primary yesterday. As usual, kids this age (years 4,5 and 6) are full of life, energy and awkward questions. I told them about Malcolm McGarvy (the bully in my novel ‘Shot, Boom, Score!) who has a few tricks up his sleeve. One of which is the chicken made from a tea towel; the other is a penguin made from a banana.

The speech went well and Fiona and the team thanked me. When I jumped in the car to drive home I was sure I smelt something. Something sweet. Yet slightly rotten. Something…like the banana I used for my talk a month ago at Birkenhead Primary. (You’re just lucky this isn’t Smelevision.)

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shatner

Early reviews of ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’

The first from Andy, who read it on a stag do, hence the the title of this post.

Pity the book is aimed at 8-12 year olds, otherwise I could have used his tagline in schools around the world.

From Kim: ‘I loved the book from start to end. Found it funny and loved the friendships. I especially loved Toby’s adorable relationship with his grandmother. The sister storyline is also hilarious. The only bit I found *annoying was Toby always having to prove himself to his Dad.’

* That sub plot was quite intentional; what boy, or girl for that matter, doesn’t?

* It is nice to know, however, Kim didn’t need any dutch courage to read it.

Feb 1st signals the launch of my debut junior fiction novel ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ published by Allen and Unwin. If you follow this blog you’ll know what the story’s about – and how it came to be – so I won’t prattle on. Needless to say, if you have an 8-12 year old in the house who likes reading, and enjoys funny characters, you can buy the book here or download the Kindle version here – which also has a preview chapter. Enjoy!

sbs new

So my debut junior novel is out.

It’s all pretty damn exciting. It’s also good to know – given how ruthless young reviewers can be – those who’ve read ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ seem to have really enjoyed it.

So anyway.

I was walking along Ponsonby Road in Auckland on a beautiful Friday morning when I ran into an old mate with his ten-year-old son. Here was a kid dressed in a Manchester United shirt, with accompanying NZ Warriors shorts. He was a cool kid: funny and full of life, with mannerisms that seemed oddly familiar.

Then it clicked.

As we stood there in the sun, my mate apparently told me what he’d been up to over Xmas. I say apparently because I struggled to focus on a word he said, mainly because the main character I’d been working on for the past two years, the guy who had lived inside my head all that time, was standing right in front of me in a Manchester United shirt. If I was a casting director for ‘Shot, Boom, Score’ the movie, I would have chosen this kid right away.

Of course I tried to relay this to my mate (‘then for New Years we just had a quiet one’) but, not surprisingly, he failed to catch my enthusiasm.

It was all hellishly freaky. Even more so – the kid’s name was Toby, the same as my main character. I took all this as a good sign – though given the similarities – wondered if this new novel is fiction at all.

No better feeling if you're an author

This freak.

It’s a habit I’ve had since I started writing books. Looking and feeling isn’t enough; one has to smell the pages. I read recently about a new cologne on the market that produces the very smell I’m talking about. Though I don’t think I’d go that far. Surely it’s better to wear Beckham or Usher than smell like a library.

I’m saying this because I arrived home from a Christmas break to find two copies of my latest novel ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ in the letterbox. Honestly, there is no better feeling. Nor does anything beat showing your two young daughters their dedication at the front. As a result, I don’t even have a copy of my own book.

This story has had a long journey, having started work on it over two years ago. I have to thank Joy Cowley for her incredible efforts, as well as the team at Allen and Unwin – namely Nicola McCloy, Sarah Brenan and Hilary Reynolds.

Thanks for your patience and creative input – you made it sing!

Shot, Boom, Score! will be released in Australia and New Zealand on the 1st Feb. If you live elsewhere, I’m sure you’ll be able to track down a copy online.

The blurb:

‘Toby, if you get twenty wickets and ten tries before the end of the year, Mum and I will buy you a GameBox V3.’

Toby thinks the GameBox V3 challenge will be too easy – he gets Player of the Day all the time. SHOT! But he hasn’t reckoned on Mrs Martin-Edge, the teacher from hell. Or on Malcolm McGarvy.

McGarvy is the biggest kid in the school and he wears a shark tooth around his neck. You know McGarvy is near because you get goosebumps up your arms.

And he’s going to make sure Toby doesn’t get that GameBox V3.

Dr Seuss was onto something when he said this. 

Here’s proof:

In 1964, Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ was published by Allen and Unwin in the UK. It took over two years to write and underwent multiple transformations. Here are a few:

Originally there were ten kids – in the end Dahl settled for five.

There was no mention of Grandpa Joe

Until the very last minute, oompa loompas were called Whipple Scrumpets.

The original title was ‘Charlie’s Chocolate Boy,’ mostly because in this version Charlie Bucket climbs into a ‘chocolate boy’ mould in the Easter Egg room and is encased in chocolate. He is taken to Mr. Wonka’s house as a present for Freddie Wonka (Mr. Wonka’s son) and while there, Charlie witnesses a burglary. As a reward for helping to catch the thieves, Mr. Wonka gives him his own sweet shop, ‘Charlie’s Chocolate Shop.’ 

Also in the original manuscript, ten golden tickets were hidden in the Wonka chocolate bars every weekMr. Wonka gave a tour of his factory every Saturday to that week’s lucky recipients. In this draft, Charlie finds a ticket on his first attempt. The other nine children on the tour are not introduced to the reader until they meet their respective ends.

Everything stinks till it’s finished. Things change. New characters appear. Have no fear. Just get it on the page!