Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coming Soon! "Arnie Avery"... A Boy, A Brother, A Bully, and a Whole Bunch of Birds

I'm very excited about my latest book for 8-12 year olds. It's called "Arnie Avery" and it's due out mid 2010. Here's a run-down on how I came to write it.

I was at the local pool with my children. They were busy swimming and I was busy watching - not just them, but everyone else in the pool that day. I spotted four teenagers mucking around, chasing each other in the water, having fun. One boy seemed to be the leader. He spent most of his time splashing one of the girls, while the other boy and girl tagged along. They barely looked at each other and didn’t say a word. These four kids intrigued me. How did they come to be at the pool? What were their names? What were they like? I started thinking they'd make great characters for a story, when someone else caught my attention. An old lady walked her way up and down the pool past them. She wore a rubber swimming cap and she was very large. I couldn’t stop staring at the way her arms wobbled when she waded through the water, yet the four teenagers barely noticed her.

I knew right then, that I wanted to write a story about them. I had my characters and I had a setting – the pool. But something exciting needed to happen with them before I had a story. Maybe someone could drown? No...too obvious. Maybe one of the kids could become a champion swimmer? No...not interesting. What if the boys got into a fight? I liked that idea, and I thought kids might like it too.

Those thoughts stayed with me, and I couldn’t get the characters out of my head. I knew if I didn’t start writing, they’d never go away. So I wrote. I had no idea of where the story would take me, but the more I wrote, the more I got to know the characters. They became real to me – especially Arnie. I knew exactly what he’d say and how he’d say it. I knew what he was feeling because I felt it too.

It took a few years before I finished writing about Arnie Avery (he was actually called Arnold Pigeon back then). I’d write a little, then I’d move onto another project. But I always came back to Arnie because I knew he had more to tell. It wasn’t until about the fifth draft that I realised Arnie had a brother. The story grew and grew – kind of like the way a plant grows. At first it was a seed. Then it grew shoots, and then branches. Each little branch was a new part of the story about Arnie. Who knows? Maybe Arnie still has more to tell. One day his story might grow to be the size of a Moreton Bay Fig!

Books I'm reading 2010

Butterfly, Sonya Hartnett (Adult)
There was an Old Sailor, Claire Saxby (Picture Book)
Motormouth, Sherryl Clark
Heart Beat, Sharon Creech
Pearl Verses the World, Sally Murphy
Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
Waiting for Mummy, Tae-Jun Lee (Picture Book)
Noah's Garden, M Johnson (Picture Book)
The Terrible Plop, Ursula Dubosarsky (Picture Book)
Beware of the Frog, William Bee (Picture Book)
Running with the Horses, Alison Lester (Picture Book)
Totally Twins, Aleesah Darlison
Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks (Adult)
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
Grimsdon, Deb Abela
Thai-riffic!, Oliver Phommavanh
Bear and Chook by the Sea, Lisa Shanahan (Picture Book)
Tensy Farlow, Jen Storer
The Unfinished Angel, Sharon Creech
Queen of Cool, Cecil Castellucci (Young Adult)
Solo, Alyssa Brugman (Young Adult)
Looking for Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta (Young Adult)