Further to my musings on books for boys, here’s a 13-year-old sharing some home truths with the publishing industry. Much as I applaud his incitement and agree with most of his thoughts, I can’t help but wonder how representative he is. (Sorry Max.)
At some of the schools I visit I have teaching staff tell me “these (14 yo) boys are reading reading at 8- to 10-year-old levels”. Ask the boys what age-level computer games they’re playing and that’s another story.
Anyway, Max’s wisdom is well worth considering. As an author, it’s invaluable information.
During my time as a newspaper journalist, I became familiar with writing articles that generally had a very short shelf life. You soon learn that today’s news is tomorrow’s food for the compost worms. When you write a novel, the experience is very different. A book takes on a life of its own the minute it is published. Where and when it will make an impression is almost impossible to predict.
So it was a fantastic surprise to hear from Albion Park High School in New South Wales where an entire Year 9 class had just read Game as Ned. I received handwritten letters from each student and the feedback was blunt and brilliant. Thanks guys. You made me laugh (and my wife cry.)
I hope to be having more to do with schools as GAN becomes better known. With this in mind, I’ve signed up with the speakers’ agency Booked Out where I’m humbled to be on the same list as scores of much better known and comprehensively published wordsmiths than me.
I spent time recently with five classes of grade 1/2 students from my son’s school and, once again, was blown away by the enthusiasm of the kids and their wacky, obtuse questions. (For the record, my favourite colour is still green.) I’m also scheduled to chat to Year 9 students at Braemar College soon and join a Ned Kelly-themed panel at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. August is going to be action-packed!
Speaking of MWF, if you have read Game as Ned and want to learn more about how I tangled bushranger fact and fiction together, please join me at Federation Square’s ACMI Cinema 1 on August 25 at 10am.