blog 108: In which the characters from Don’t Call Me Ishmael discuss their weirdest dreams.

In 2013 I wrote a short story based on the Ishmael series that was included in an anthology created by my German publishers Carl Hanser celebrating 20 YEARS OF HANSER CHILDREN’S BOOKS.

The piece was called Ismael und das Team seiner Träume or Ishmael and the Dream Team.

In the story the characters of Ishmael, Razz, Bill, Ignatius and Scobie share their weirdest ever dreams and maybe at the same time reveal something of themselves and their unique personalities.

For anyone who might be interested, it went like this …

ISHMAEL AND THE DREAM TEAM 

It was before school one morning in Grade Ten when Orazio Zorzotto, more commonly known as Razz, Razza or The Razzman, told us all about his ‘totally weird’ dream.

James Scobie, Ignatius Prindabel, Bill Kingsley and I were sitting at one of the lunch tables in the school yard. James and I were discussing the English homework Miss Tarango had set us. Across the table, Ignatius was hunched over a copy of an Extreme Mathematics magazine while Bill was sucking on a large carton of low-fat low-cal sugar-free vitamin-enriched chocolate milk and staring into deep space.

Until Razz dropped in and exploded among us like a hyperactive bomb.

‘Yo dudes! Man you gotta hear this! Come on. Shove over you guys,’ he said as he straddled the bench, elbowing himself in between Bill’s large body and Ignatius’s thin one and splitting them apart like bowling pins. While Razz made himself comfortable, Bill wiped chocolate milk from his chin and Ignatius glared at the half page of Extreme Mathematics that Razz’s elbow had caused him to tear off.

‘I had this totally weird dream last night. Man it was weird! Totally weird. You are not gonna believe just how totally weird it was.’

Everyone looked at Razz. His eyes were bouncing around the faces at the table like a ricocheting bullet. We said nothing. We weren’t going to make it too easy for him.

‘I’m telling you guys, this dream – you know the one I had last night – well it wasn’t just normal weird. It was weird weird. Totally weird weird!’

Once again Razz searched our faces for any flicker of interest that he could fan into life. All he got was a few semi-raised eyebrows and a couple of half-hearted nods.

‘I mean, seriously, if they held a Weird Dream Olympics, then this dream, would win the Weird Gold Medal every time for sure! That’s how weird it was. Really!’

Razz jerked his head from Scobie to me, from me to Ignatius, and from Ignatius to Bill.

Man it was weird,’ he said shaking his head, ‘Like totally!’

It was Scobie who finally responded. He pushed his glasses back up his button nose and  twisted his mouth to one side and then the other before asking, ‘So Orazio. This dream you had last night … what was it like?’

Razz’s eyes lit up like spotlights.

‘IT WAS TOTALLY WEIRD SCOBES ALL RIGHT! Hello? Hello? Testing. Testing. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me? What is wrong with you people? Do you want to hear about my totally weird dream or not?’

‘Is there any possible way we can avoid hearing about your totally weird dream?’ Scobie enquired politely.

‘Not a chance.’

‘Well in that case, why don’t you tell us all about your totally weird dream Orazio?’

‘Finally!’ Razz said slapping the table and rolling his eyes. Then he leaned in eagerly.

‘Ok. Listen up. I had this dream last night …’

Really. What was it like?’

The others smiled. Razz just eyeballed me like a psychopathic drill-sergeant but kept going.

‘Right, as I was about to say before I was interrupted by Ishmael’s microscopic and tragic attempt at humour … in my dream I’m in this massive stadium thing, full of people. Then I see that at one end there’s a big stage and it’s packed with heaps and heaps of totally hot chicks in swimming suits!’

‘Wait,’ I said holding up my hand. ‘You’re telling us that you had a dream about good-looking girls with not much on? Wow, that really is amazing!’

‘Earth-shattering,’ Scobie agreed.

‘Unprecedented,’ Ignatius added flatly without lifting his eyes off his magazine.

Bill just lowered his chocolate milk and smiled.

Razz held up both hands like he was fending off a hail of rotten tomatoes.

‘All right, all right, all right. Just wait, ok. I haven’t got to the weird part yet. You see, in my dream, I’m actually at the Miss World Beauty Pageant. But here’s the most awesome bit. Apparently, I’ve been selected as the sole judge on account of my intimate and detailed knowledge and expertise when it comes to hot chicks!’

Scobie, Ignatius, Bill and I exchanged some very doubtful glances, but decided to let it pass. Razz continued.

‘Well of course, I’m super excited about being a judge ’cause there’s like thousands of chicks up there and I’ll be getting up close and personal with every one of them. Naturally, I will also be open to bribes.’

Ignatius Prindabel’s head jerked up.

‘One hundred and ninety-six,’ he said.

Razz twisted around to face the tall, wiry form hunched beside him.

‘Huh? What? You say something P-bud?’

‘One hundred and ninety-six.’

‘One hundred and ninety-six? What’s that supposed to be? Wait, wait, let me guess. Is it you’re new very favourite number? How many A’s you scored for assignments and tests last week? The number of chicks who’ve turned you down for a date? Or are you just suffering from some weird nerd form of mathematical Tourette’s Syndrome.’

‘None of the above,’ Ignatius said. ‘It happens to be the number of countries in the world. You said there were thousands of girls in the Miss World competition. That’s incorrect. If there’s one contestant from each country, there would only be 196 because there are only 196 countries in the world. Of course, I admit there is some disagreement over the exact figure since the independence of some countries is open to question and debate. Therefore some reliable sources might state it at a few more or a few less. However 196 contestants would be a very acceptable figure to most people and very close to the mark. In any case, there certainly wouldn’t be thousands.’

Razz rested his chin in the palm of his hand, squinted his eyes and studied Ignatius closely.

‘You know P-bud, I’ve often wondered. What exactly did your personality die from? Lack of use?’

‘So what happened? You know with the judging and everything?’

Razz twisted around to his other side.

‘Billy-boy! Good to see that you’ve finally beamed down to join us. Welcome to planet Earth! An excellent question from our interplanetary visitor here. Well, all the – one hundred and ninety-six – drop-dead gorgeous chicks are lining up on stage and I’m getting ready for the judging, when someone taps me on my shoulder. But not just any someone. It’s Pele himself! I’m not kidding. PELE!’

A frown wrinkled its way across Prindabel’s high, narrow forehead.

‘Pele?’ he said. ‘Wasn’t he a famous clown?’

Razz grabbed his head with both hands. ‘No! No! Must stay together. Do not explode! I repeat DO NOT EXPLODE!’

Then he swung back around to face Ignatius.

‘Well Iggy, the good news is that I’m pretty sure you’ll be the unbackable favourite to scoop the pool again this year at the Golden Nerd Awards. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they give you the Life-Time Achievement Award for Services to Nerdism. Oh and for your information, Pele just happens to be the greatest football player who ever lived.’

Ignatius frowned.

‘Well it would be hard for him to be the greatest football player if he hadn’t lived.’

Razz’s eyes narrowed.

‘Annnnnnyway … as I was saying before the motherboard in P-bud’s head short circuited. Pele – not to be confused with Bozo or Chuckles (insert a Razz dagger stare at Ignatius here) taps me on the shoulder and says that I have to come with him because … wait for it … I’m playing in the World Cup Football final! Me! Can you believe it?’

We all shake our heads. We literally cannot believe it.

‘And get this. Apparently I’m Captain of the team from Razzland and we’re playing Brazil in the final!’

‘Girls and football,’ Scobie said. ‘You’re two favourite things. It’s your dream dream.’

‘Absolutely!’ Razz agreed. ‘But there’s this one big problem. The Miss World Final and the World Cup Final are on at exactly the same time! I can’t do both. One hundred and ninety-six hot chicks versus playing in a World Cup Final. And I have to choose between them. It’s a nightmare!’

Now it was getting interesting. I asked the question that everyone at the table was pondering.

‘So what did you do?’

‘Well, I applied the totally rigid, incredibly awesome, super-sized Razzman brain cells to the problem and I came up with a killer solution.’

‘Which was?’

‘Which was … to ask if I could sort of join the two finals together so that I’d get half of each. And the Official dudes said yes!’

I thought about that for a second.

‘So … in your dream … you ended up interviewing and judging ninety-three Miss World contestants and then playing in the second half of a World Cup Final?’

‘Not quite young Ishmael. It seems the Official dudes and me weren’t exactly on the same ebook screen. What I ended up doing was judging an entire Miss World Pageant where all the contestants were famous World Cup football stars dressed in women’s clothes. Like I said, it was totally weird … especially the swim suit section.’

Razz gazed blankly ahead for a while before snapping out of his trance with a full body shudder and a quick head shake. Then he elbowed Prindabel’s arm and another page of Extreme Mathematics was set free.

‘Come on P-bud. Your turn. You must have had some weird dreams. What’s your weirdest one ever? Was it the one where you discover your real mother was a smart phone and your father a laptop? Or was it the one where you magically turn into a human being?’

Ignatius kept his eyes lowered as he attempted to align the words on two torn pieces of Extreme Mathematics.

‘Haven’t got one,’ he said. ‘Hardly ever dream. Or don’t remember them if I do.’

‘What? You must remember some. Come on, think about it.’

‘No I definitely don’t.’ There was a pause, then Ignatius lifted his head slowly like one of those Galapagos turtles and held up a long, bony index finger. ‘Correction … there was this one …’

‘Cool! Now you’re talking. Let’s hear it then Iggy my main man. Come on, blow our minds!’

‘Well, in the dream I must have been at a fair of some kind because there was a man selling balloons and he was pumping them up using a large cylinder of propane gas. While I’m watching him, he fills up a big red balloon, ties a string to it and hands it to a little girl and she runs off with it to show her parents. BUT, on the way the little girl trips and falls and she lets go of the string and the balloon floats off into the air. Then the little girl starts crying.’

Ignatius stopped. He was bobbing his head and grinning at us like a demented hyena.

And?’ Razz said spreading his arms wide.

‘And what?’ Ignatius asked.

‘AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!’

Ignatius frowned. ‘Nothing. I woke up.’

‘What? That’s it? That’s all there is? That’s your weird dream? ’

Ignatius nodded and looked around at us excitedly. ‘Yes. It’s completely mad isn’t it? I mean, everybody knows that propane gas is heavier than air and there is no possible way that balloon would have floated away.’

Ignatius shook his head and broke into one of his disturbing hissing laughing fits while Razz stared at him like he was a ticking time-bomb.

‘Have you had your internal hard drives checked for viruses recently Prindabel? You can’t even do ‘weird’ normally.’

Razz puffed out a big breath and looked across the table.

‘Ok Scobes. We desperately need help here. You of all people must understand weird. What’s your best weird dream?’

Scobie did an impressive series of facial gymnastics before his eyes stopped blinking and his mouth settled down into a thin line.

‘Was that it Your Scobeness? Were you giving it to us in mime? Did it have something to do with a sucker fish?’

Scobie ignored Razz.

‘Remember how I told you that I had that operation to remove a tumour from my brain?’

How could we forget? We nodded.

‘Well after the operation I kept having this one dream over and over again. It would always start off with everything completely normal but then after a while I’d realise that the top of my head was missing.’

Razz frowned. ‘The top of your head was missing? Well that would be … inconvenient.’

‘Yes it was,’ Scobie said. ‘because if I didn’t keep my head absolutely level stuff would fall out.’

Razz screwed up his face. ‘Stuff?’

‘Yes. But not what you’re thinking. Real stuff – toys, pictures, books, shells, clothes, even tiny people. They were all things and people from my life. And when something fell out it turned to smoke and disappeared, so I had to try to keep my head level and still. But the longer the dream went on, the harder it got. The ground became more and more rocky and uneven and there would be big holes everywhere for me to step in. Sometimes the ground just gave away under my feet like ice. And if I tried to just stand in one spot and not move, everything would start shaking and jumping around like an earthquake. The dream always ended the same way. Eventually something would make me trip and fall and then everything in my head would spill out and disappear in a puff of smoke. When I stood back up I couldn’t remember anything, not even who I was.’

Scobie pushed his mouth to one side and left it there. Four sets of eyes were fixed on him. Finally Razz broke the silence.

‘Riiiiiiiiiiiight. Well on that cheerful note gentlemen, what say we move on and see what Billy Boy has got for us.’

Bill shrugged his big shoulders. ‘There’s this one weird dream I have all the time too.’

Razz held up his hand.

‘Wait. Does it involve an amazing floating balloon or a partial decapitation?’

Bill gave the question far more consideration than it deserved before replying.

‘No.’

‘Awesome. Let’s hear it.’

‘It’s like I’m in Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit or something because I’m on this long journey. Anyway, at one point I’m right at the top of Mount Doom and all I have to do is throw the One Ring into the fiery pit in order to save the Shire and defeat the forces of darkness. But then I look down and the One Ring isn’t a ring anymore – it’s a super jumbo-sized cream doughnut. And I’m starving. So before I throw it in and save everyone and become a hero, I just take a few tiny nibbles from around the edges. But when I do, I can’t stop and I end up eating the whole thing! Then Mount Doom erupts like a volcano except that soft serve ice-cream comes out instead of lava, and I have to start swallowing it to stop from drowning. Then everything gets mixed up because all these spaceships fly in only they’re really giant pizzas and when they land, chocolate-coated Star Wars storm-troopers charge out and start firing French-fries and tomato sauce at me and I end up catching them all in my mouth …’

Razz’s hand was now clamped over that very mouth.

‘Ok. Ok. Ok. Thanks for coming Bilbo. I think we get the picture. Seems to me that dream could only mean one of two things. Either you have a slight issue with food or you’re a total nut case. Personally I’m leaning heavily towards “total nut case” at this early stage.’

Razz looked across at me.

‘Well that just leaves you Ishmael. What’s your weird dream or do you spend all your time drooling on your pillow over Kelly Faulkner.’

I gave Razz a pained look, but to be honest, I have had my fair share of Kelly Faulkner dreams including one where I was a ninja and I ended up saving her from a dangerous gang of evil peg-people. Once I even had a dream about Barry Bagsley. He wasn’t a bully in the dream like he is in real life. He was a really nice guy and we were good friends. I was kind of sad when I woke up. But I didn’t feel like sharing either of those dreams so I picked a different one.

‘Sometimes I have this dream where I’m stuck on the side of a really high mountain and I’m trying to hold on but my fingers are slipping. It’s pretty scary. Then I start to wonder what in the world I’m doing way up there and I realise that of course I must just be dreaming it. So I decide that all I have to do is jump off and let myself fall and nothing will happen to me. The only trouble is, I’m not one hundred percent sure it actually is a dream because it still seems really real. It takes me ages and ages to finally let go and drop. When I do, I wake up.’

Razz pushed out his bottom lip. He didn’t look that impressed.

‘Well if that’s the best you can all come up with, I think it’s pretty obvious to me and to anyone else with half a brain, that I, the Razzman,  am the clear winner and undisputed champeeeeeeeeeeen of the Inaugural St Daniel’s Totally Weird Dream Dream-Off!’

That’s when the bell rang and we all headed off for homeroom with Miss Tarango.

But do you want to hear something really weird?

Well, here it is. That very night I had a dream that I think could have topped even Razz’s.

When it started I was inside a big, white dome, and the walls of the dome were covered with millions and millions of words. I even found my own name ISHMAEL LESEUR in amongst them in big letters. Then the words started peeling off the walls and they began swirling around everywhere like a snow storm. Some of the words joined and clumped together and they formed into shapes like statues and then the craziest thing happened. Those statues turned into Scobie and Razz and Bill and Ignatius and Kelly Faulkner and lots of other people I know! Then I saw that there were two oval-shaped windows at the front of the dome and I went over and looked through them and there was a whole world out there. And that’s when I realised that the windows weren’t actually windows at all. They were eyes. Which meant that the dome wasn’t just a dome. It was a head. And we were all inside it! It was like Razz, Scobie, Ignatius, Bill and I were running around in someone else’s mind. And that someone had dreamed us all up!

See what I mean? Talk about weird! Way too weird to ever share with the Razz and the guys. Too weird for words, as they say. But then again, who knows?

Maybe not.

SAM_0387

Artwork by Peter Schossow

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

blog 107: In which I officially begin 2018.

Well 2018 has started and it’s been very exciting.

(And when I say ‘started” I mean of course that it kicked off ages ago and now more than a quarter of it is already gone!)

(Hi Gabriella. Look a new blog! Can you believe it?)

~ So far I’ve had some great school visits – to Assisi College, Marist Ashgrove, Brisbane State High, Mt Gravatt High, Ambrose-Treacy College and Queen of Apostles Primary School, plus a fun Skype session with a Grade 8 class studying The Running Man at Casimir Catholic school in Marrickville, Sydney.

~ At the end of January Carl Hanser published their fantastic German edition of The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me: Die Nervensäge, meine Mutter, Sir Tiffy, der Nerd & ich. It was also released on audio by HÖRCOMPANY. I’ve been really thrilled with the excellent reviews it has received so far.

~ In mid-February my wife and I had a few lovely days up at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat   relaxing and getting up close and personal with the local fauna and flora.

~ I also had a visit from from Professor Dr Thomas Möbius from the University of Giessen Germany. Thomas had previously published a German study text on The Running Man and while he was in Queensland he dropped in to interview me for something else he is  writing about my other books. I’d only spoken to him via emails before so it was great catching up in person. A lovely man.

~ At the end of February it was great to see Rodney Loses It! listed among the 2018 CBCA NOTABLES in the Early Childhood category. (For more exciting developments see further down.)

29104121_1717087268348679_6581300811605388723_n

~ In early March my wife and I went ‘bush’ again (well, sort of) and spent four days at the beautiful Fraser Island Kingfisher Bay Resort. On the four hour drive up to Hervey Bay from Brisbane to catch the ferry we passed through Tiaro home of many of my forebears, including my grandfather Arthur Bauer whose name, along with his brother’s, appears on the Tiaro War memorial.

On beautiful Fraser Island

IMG_20180302_103234

~ At the end of March I attended a wonderful event held at the Brisbane City Hall for the announcement of the 2018 CBCA Shortlists and was blown away when Rodney Loses It! made the cut in the Book of the Year Early Childhood category. I’m am thrilled and honoured to be among these great books and wonderful authors & illustrators. A huge thank you, and congratulations, to Chrissie Krebs who brought Rodney and his manic personality so beautifully and hilariously to life. Check out Chrissie’s book This Is a Circle.

CBCAEarlyChildhood

At the City Hall Short-list announcement ….

~ In April we managed to attend one event at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Thanks to the generosity of some friends we got to see Australia V England and Canada V New Zealand in the semi finals of the Beach Volleyball. Great fun.

~ And finally last Friday night at the University of Queensland Schonell Theatre I had the absolute joy of seeing the premiere performance of Don’t Call Me Ishmael: THE MUSICAL created by the super-talented duo of Chris Thomson and Fin Taylor. What a treat! A wonderful production team and a brilliant cast brought the story vividly to life on stage. Great music. Beautiful voices. A stellar ensemble performance. The packed audience of over 400 people gave it a well-deserved standing ovation. A big thanks to Underground Broadway and A Very Theatre Company

29744997_1364399897000138_3177833480203400027_o (2)IMG_0399

IMG_0404
IMG_0400

30716397_10215634734450963_1068994390489300992_o (2)

As you can see in the above photo, we attended the show with our son Joe (illustrator of the Eric Vale /Derek Dale series) and our daughter-in-law Rita Artmann.

Some of you might know of Joe and Rita ( ARTSPEAR ENTERTAINMENT) through their independent comedy films The Killage and Australiens or their comedy series The Void (season 2 of which is coming soon).

Or you might be one of the 410,000 people who have subscribed to their You Tube Channel TOON SANDWICH to watch their very popular and hilarious animated movie trailer spoofs.

If you are a TOON SANDWICH fan and you loved their SUPER HEROES BOWL animation (currently on six and half million views) then here’s some very good news. Within the next week or so Joe and Rita will be finally releasing to their You Tube Channel the eagerly anticipated follow up video: SUPER VILLAINS BOWL.

That’s right! All the villains from just about every action and super hero film you can think of, will battle it out to the death. This major project has taken over five months of intensive work and as always, everything you see and hear (including the voices of every single character) is all just Joe and Rita.

But the BIG QUESTION is, who will be the last Villain standing?????

Only one way to find out. Check out their TOON SANDWICH page, watch all the other videos and while you’re there, why not join the ever-growing throng and subscribe. That way you will be notified immediately when Super Villain Bowl is up. How convenient is that?

Also, you can check out a whole range of ArtSpear mechandise HERE (including some great tees based on the Eric Vale and Derek ‘Danger’ Dale books).  Of course, it’s highly unlikely you’ll look as good as daughter Meg and me but still … worth giving it a try at least.

Sorry, this blog has gone on FAR TOO LONG mainly because I had so much to catch up on. I’m not going to say that in future I’ll post more regularly because I always say that and I never do, but, you know, that’s what I’m thinking secretly to myself …

Cheers All!
Michael

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

blog 106: In which I’m talkin’ on SUNSHINE.

Last October my wife and I came down from Brisbane to spend a month in Melbourne bunny-and-house-sitting for our daughter and son-in-law while they were away on their belated honeymoon in America. Our daughter’s home is in a new housing estate in the suburb of SUNSHINE.

IMG_20171001_132914

Basically all I knew about Sunshine was that it was in Melbourne’s West and that over the years it probably had more than its fair share of problems and critics. But we really enjoyed our time there and what we experienced during our stay was a vibrant, multicultural community with a range of great facilities and resources and a ton of potential.

So if you’re ever in SUNSHINE, here are TEN things I recommend you do.

  • 1. Make a pilgrimage to Sunshine Marketplace on Harvester Road to see the amazing and iconic Millennium Man statue and while you’re there check out the shops and take in a movie at Village Cinema Sunshine‘s surprisingly extensive 20-screen complex. Even the restrooms are impressive!

And if you’re keen to learn how about why Millennium Man was created (and who wouldn’t be?) watch this VIDEO.

  •  2. Have a picnic and enjoy all the terrific modern playground equipment and wonderful facilities at Buckingham Reserve. While you’re there take a stroll along the scenic trail by Kororoit Creek.

IMG_20171003_173116IMG_20171005_122234

22424281_10213541718164843_6924666048268633426_o (2)  IMG_20171016_165122

IMG_20171001_121202 IMG_20160821_144154

  • 4. While you’re in the library ask one of the attendants to direct you to the original Sunshine Harvester which is suspended from the ceiling in the council building and after which the suburb is named.
  •  5. A short distance from the library is Devonshire Road. Take a walk down it till you come to a plaque beside a beautiful and imposing set of wrought-iron gates. These are the original gates to the massive Sunshine Harvester Works that once dominated the suburb. They are probably the most significant gates in Australia’s history. That’s because the events surrounding the factory that stood behind them would eventually impact on the life of every Australian worker and their family. In a decision handed down by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in 1907 called the Harvester Judgement, the owner of the Sunshine Harvester Company  H. V. McKay was ordered to pay his employees a wage that guaranteed them a standard of living which was reasonable for “a human being in a civilised community”, regardless of his capacity to pay. This ruling would lead to the establishment of a MINIMUM WAGE for Australian workers. Sunshine should be very proud of its crucial role in Australian history.

20171022_121159[1664]

393206-small   20171022_121100[1665]

  • 6. Need some exercise? Have a hit of tennis at the Sunshine Park Tennis Club. Easy to book online and three surfaces to choose from – clay, hard court or synthetic grass. Other sporting facilities for cricket and football are also close by.

IMG_20171010_135056

 

  • 7. After a hit at the courts take the opportunity to go solo with the silos! These big boys are so impressive and are just screaming out for some epic artwork that would celebrate the character and the unique history of the suburb. What do you say Brimbank Council?

IMG_20171017_165950

  • 8. While you’re actually in Sunshine make sure to watch (or re-watch) the excellent SBS drama series Sunshine (winner of the 2017 AACTA Award for Best Mini Series) which is set in … wait for it … Sunshine! As well as enjoying the great story I’m sure you’ll have as much fun as we did shouting at the screen whenever you recognise a familiar landmark.

IMG_20171018_130426 IMG_20171005_122112

  • 9. Of course you can’t visit Sunshine without indulging in the delicious food available at the wide range of multi-cultural cafes and eateries. If you’re lucky like we were, your visit might coincide with the annual Lantern Festival and you’ll be able to experience a cultural and culinary smorgasbord!
  • 10. And lastly, generally take the time to explore the suburb and discover all the little and big and quirky things that make it so unique.

Well that’s it for my Sunshiny review. Of course there’s much more to the place than a brief month’s stay could uncover, but if you ask me, I think this historic and often unfairly maligned suburb has a huge, bright and exciting future. (Did I mention that it’s only 12 km from the CBD, handy to the airport and has a flash new train station?)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that a lot more people like my daughter (below) and son-in-law  will be happily ‘walkin’ on Sunshine’ in the years to come and thinking to themselves, ‘Don’t it feel good!’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cheers (and keep up the good work Brimbank City Council!)
Michael

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

blog 105: In which I tidy up some 2017 loose ends.

Hi All

It’s January 25th and my Resolution to do a blog a week in 2018 is off to a shaky start. Ok let’s face it – the starter’s pistol has sounded, the medals have been distributed, the winner’s anthem has been played and everyone’s gone home while my resolution is still back in the dressing shed, struggling to tie the laces on its running shoes and wondering who stole its performance enhancing drugs. (I’ve really got no idea why people accuse me of using over-blown metaphors.)

IMG_20171022_074337Be that as it may, I am pressing on undeterred. So here is a brief history of things I should have blogged about at the end of last year, but obviously haven’t. So, if you will, come with me on a journey back in time to October 2017 …

Except for a brief trip to Monto in Queensland (which I actually DID blog about HERE) my wife and I spent all of October in MELBOURNE bunny-and-house-sitting for my daughter and son-in-law while they had a belated honeymoon in America. See aforementioned bunnies on the left – Basil (top) and Luna (bottom).

In Melbourne we stayed in the suburb of SUNSHINE. The suburb itself has had its fair share of critics and problems over the years (like everywhere I guess) but we really enjoyed our time there and found it to be a vibrant multicultural community, handy to the CBD, with some fantastic facilities and resources and a ton of potential. (More detail on our stay in Sunshine will follow shortly in Blog 106: In which I’m walking on Sunshine!)

IMG_20171001_132914

During our month long stay in MELBOURNE we got to do a number of great things.

~ We caught up with the awesome Monty Boori Pryor – friend, writer, story-teller, inaugural Australian Children’s Laureate 2012-13, plus heaps more besides, and had the pleasure and honour of getting a sneak preview of his exciting new project. Always love spending time with this guy!

Monty Monty 2

~ We took a trip to town to see the Wallace and Gromit and Friends Exhibition at Federation Square.  Just wonderful with so many incredible displays.

~ We went along to see Blade Runner and The Book of Mormon both of which were great.

~ We had a lovely day at St Kilda including coffee and cake at the old Kiosk at the end of the pier.

IMG_20171016_115950IMG_20171016_124603

At the end of October we returned to our home town of BRISBANE where …

~ Joe and I decided against the pet rats.

24058994_10213869425197314_3516996477877355181_n (2)

~ My wife and I took a lovely visiting English couple to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to see the local wildlife and feed the rainbow lorikeets.

24131693_10213924938305107_1770083910027264934_o (2).jpg

~ I had a great time with lots of lovely writer and illustrator friends when I was guest speaker at a Christmas Luncheon for the Queensland Branch of SCBWI.

1F0EBB93-3514-4BAA-A266-4DD603A1DFCE (2)

~ I may have slightly over-reacted to someones’s negative review of one of my books.

20171125_212306 (4)

~ The covers of the German hardback (Hanser) and audio (Hoercompany) editions of The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber-Boy and Me were revealed.

~ And I finally fulfilled my lifetime dream of seeing at least one Beatle live in concert when I was there when Paul McCartney performed at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Unbelievable.

Then in late December it was back again to MELBOURNE for a visit which included trips to the wonderful Healesville Sanctuary and  the National Gallery of Victory.

But the purpose and highlight of the trip back to MELBOURNE was to spend a beautiful first Christmas with our daughter and son-in-law in their new home.

25507661_1635060286551378_8743388498761521165_n

And just to finish off, one final piece of good news for 2017 was that the YA manuscript I submitted to Scholastic Australia/Omnibus Books in October was accepted. YAY! That never loses its thrill. I’m hoping for a publication date sometime in late 2018.

IMG_20180124_153238 (2)

And thus endeth 2017 and this post.

Cheers and a belated Happy New Year!
Michael

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

blog 104: In which I spend a couple of great days in beautiful Monto.

In October this year I had the good fortunate to be invited by Monto State High School to be part of their fantastic Growing Young Literary Artists in the North Burnett project.

On Wednesday Oct 11th around midday, I flew from Melbourne (where my wife and I were house-sitting) home to Brisbane and from there caught another flight to Bundaberg.

At Bundaberg airport I was picked up by the amazing Kylie (my guide, minder and travelling companion for the next few days) and driven around 175 kilometres to Monto where we rendezvoused at around 8 pm with some of the local teachers for a lovely meal and a chat at the Family Refreshment Cafe & Restaurant.

After dinner, there was a final 20 km drive to my accommodation at the Cania Gorge Tourist and Caravan Park.

The shots below show the view at the start of my journey compared to the view at the end from my cabin at Cania Gorge. Massive improvement!

Right from the start, the organisers of the visit and the great people from Monto made me feel very welcome.

IMG_4437 (2)IMG_4439

IMG_20171012_084842The next day, Thursday, I had three sessions at the beautiful Monto Community Hall presenting  to grade 4 – 10 students from schools within the local region. IMG_20171012_084827IMG_4426IMG_4423 (2)

Attending schools included Monto SHS, Monto Primary School, Burnett State College Gayndah, Mundubbera SS, St Therese’s Catholic Primary School Monto, Abercorn SS, Mulgildie SS. All the students were fantastic to talk to and it was a fun day

Following the sessions, after negotiating the local traffic …

… I had the chance (thanks again to Kylie’s generosity in chauffeuring me around) to take in some of the beautiful sights and scenery of the local area …

IMG_4443 (2)

Lake Cania.

IMG_4444

… and to also learn some of the history, including the Legend of the Three Moons.

IMG_20171012_151146 (2)IMG_4441

That night (Pizza Night YAY!) and on the following morning at the Cania Gorge Holiday Park, I had the pleasure of spending time with some members of the local writers community and around 30 young keen and talented writers from Monto SHS, Burnett State College and Mundubbera SS who were there on a Writers Retreat.

We were also joined by quite a bit of bird-life!

IMG_20171012_171032

The students taking part in a Young Writers Retreat were each working on a writing piece that needed to encompass a location, event or identity from within the beautiful Burnett region.

It was terrific to hear these enthusiastic and talented writers discussing their projects and hopefully I was able to provide some advice and writing tips that were useful to them. The students’ completed pieces are to be published in book form and online. A great thing for these young authors and for the local community.

After spending Friday morning at the Writers Retreat it was time to start the long reverse journey back to Melbourne.

A big thanks once again to Monto SHS for the invitation to be a part of this great project and to and all the teachers, volunteers, local people, students and young writers who made the trip so enjoyable for me. Much appreciated.

Look, even the Mulgildie Bunyip was friendly!

IMG_20171013_110757 (2)

And thanks too for the lovely gifts to remember the visit by!

22405943_10213103616932496_5252375563265131355_n.jpg  IMG_20171012_151458 (2)

Cheers
Michael

IMG_20171012_161418 (2)

ps: There are two wallabies in this photo although you can only see a tiny bit of the second one.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

blog 103: In which I say ‘Cheers & Thanks’ to Germany and post a video.

Apart from at home here in Australia, my books have been most successful in Germany.

As well as having nine books presently published in the country, there has also been a radio broadcast of the complete Ishmael series, short-listings and an award win for The Running Man, stage productions of Don’t Call Me Ishmael and The Running Man and both those novels have also been used as class texts and in state exams.

The Running Man, The Ishmael series, Dinosaur Knights, Just a Dog and the Eric Vale series were all published by the wonderful Carl Hanser company. In January 2018 they will add the German edition of The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me to their list. I am so grateful for the support and friendship of this fantastic company over the years. See below.

IMG_2668

On top of that there have been terrific German audio versions of the Ishmael series, Dinosaur Knights, Just a Dog and Eric Vale produced by the wonderful Hörcompany. Now they have just finished recording their audio edition of The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me. 

Below is a brief video from Hörcompany of the very talented German theatre actor JULIA NACHTMANN recording the audio version of The Pain etc and Me. I love how expressive Julia’s voice and face are in the reading. Even though I couldn’t understand the German it didn’t take me long to work out that what she was reading was the scene where Maggie is being asked out on a date by a boy but at first doesn’t realise it. I’ve added the English text below the video.

 

For some reason Jason was still there when I’d finished. And still talking.

‘So you’re thinking of doing Film and Television next year?’

‘Ah, yes, probably. If I can convince my mother. I want to go into acting and maybe directing. Thought it would help.’

‘Yeah, I’m doing it too. Figured it’d be a bludge.’

‘Right. Cool. You’ve thought it through then.’

I was about to walk off but Jason still hadn’t finished.

‘So … then … maybe we could … catch a movie together sometime.’

I was confused. ‘Catch a movie together’? What a strange thing to say. I mean really, what were the chances of Jason Price and I ending up at the same place when a movie was screening?

Then something clicked. Wait a minute. Is he? Was he? Did he? Have I … just been asked out? OMG, I think I had. I think Jason Price had just asked me out. Do something. SAY something. SPEAK!

‘A movie? What? You mean … you … and me? Us?’

‘Yeah. If you want to. I can’t do much this weekend ’cause I’ve got football on and then I have to help my brother with some stuff. But next Sunday would be good. Unless you’re doing something already.’

Doing something? Let me think. Does disinfecting my room of cat urine count?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So cheers and thanks to all my German friends and readers.

Or should that be prost und danke!

Michael

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

blog 102: In which I try to remember what happened in the 3 months since I last posted.

It’s been quite an eventful few months since my last update.

August and September are usually the busiest months for school bookings because of BOOK WEEK and this year was no exception for me.

During that time I visited 24 schools in 6 cities (Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Ayr/Home Hill), presented around 55 sessions, took part in 2 festivals and launched one book. Phew!

As always, a big thank you to BOOKED OUT SPEAKERS AGENCY for making most of that happen (and happen so smoothly) and to the staff and students of all the schools for making me feel so welcome.

Here are some random shots from my week in MELBOURNE:

(Schools visited: Simonds Catholic College, Ivanhoe Grammar School, St Bernard’s College, Camberwell HS, Emmaus College, Toorak College, East Doncaster S College)

One of the highlights of the Melbourne tour was my visit to Toorak College where I had the thrill and honour of presenting for the first time with my good friend Barry Heard. The year 9 girls there had studied my book The Running Man which contains a Vietnam vet character and Barry’s powerful and important book Well Done Those Men tells the real life story of his experiences as a nineteen year old country boy thrust into the horrors of the Vietnam war and the terrible impact of that experience on his life. A wonderful and moving experience for the students and for me to hear Barry talk.

 Some random shots from Book Week spent in Brisbane and around QUEENSLAND:

(Schools visited: St Matthew’s School Cornubia, Wilsonton State School Toowoomba, Ashgrove State Primary School, The Springfield Anglican College, Ayr?Home Hill Schools – Home Hill SS, St Colman’s, St Francis Primary School, Burdekin Christian College, Burdekin Catholic State High, East Ayr State Primary & High School)

IMG_20170823_113218

With Lance Balchin

IMG_20170825_103151

Burdekin – Ayr/Home Hill

Some random shots from post-Book Week in ADELAIDE:

(Schools visited: Immanuel College, Prince Alfred College, Tatachilla Lutheran College, Glenelg Primary School, Walford Anglican Girls, Endeavour College, The Heights School)

IMG_20170829_081234

Near Tatachilla College McLaren Vale

IMG_20170829_120941

Something fishy about this library!

Apart for school visits and festivals a big highlight that occurred since my last blog was the release of my first picture book RODNEY LOSES IT illustrated by the very talented Chrissie Krebs.

So far Rodney has received some lovely reviews …

Rodney Loses It! is a fun book, with text from Michael Gerard Bauer that is perfect for a read-along with any young reader. The illustrations by Chrissie Krebs are gloriously colourful and funny, in line with the fun text from Bauer. Rodney with his glasses, his floppy ears and his own artwork are sure to be a hit with any young reader still learning the fun of reading and rhyming.

Reading Time: Reviewer Verushka Byrow

Unlike some picture books this book can be enjoyed multiple times and different themes can be explored. Tantrums, hobbies, favourite things and boredom to name a few. This is Michael Gerard Bauer’s first picture book and let’s hope it is the first of many. A tantrum is a part of the life of young children and Rodney does it well with the help of illustrator Chrissie Krebs. The book is in verse and a pleasure to read out loud. It’s great!

Bug in a Book: Reviewer Megan Stuart

A wonderfully funny story.

Pass It On: Reviewer Jackie Hosking

Highly recommended. Anger, Drawing. Rodney loves to draw, so much so that he draws just about everywhere. He has a range of pens with which to draw, but one is his special favourite. This pen is so special, that he has given it a name, Penny, and has even been known to kiss Penny, so thrilled is he by his favourite pen. One day while sitting at his desk, drawing, Penny disappears. He has lost things before: his bow tie, his rubber duck, his keys but he has always found them. Losing Penny causes him great distress, and the path of his distress is revealed through this very funny picture book. 
Bauer cleverly shows readers the steps they should take when trying to find something, and the outcome when the thing being searched for cannot be found. 
Krebs’ illustrations add another level of humour to the tale, showing Rodney at the highs and lows of the problem of having, then losing something precious. Children will see the problem illuminated before their eyes in illustrations full of life and movement, and learn a lesson from the tale.

ReadPlus: Reviewer Fran Knight

Always great to get such positive feedback so here’s some pictures of me losing it with Rodney. (Brilliant plush Rodney toy created by the amazing Chrissie Krebs!)

And finally back in August I had the pleasure of launching Darren Groth’s new book EXCHANGE OF HEART at Where the Wild Things Are in Brisbane. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it. Also if you haven’t read Darren’s previous novel ARE YOU SEEING ME well, you’re being a fool to yourself and a burden to society! It’s wonderful. Both books are funny, intelligent and poignant. A bit like big Daz himself!

IMG_20170826_155245

Two of the worlds biggest Big Lebowski fans. Am I right or am I right?

20900687_10212047513518188_1192537149005426431_o (2)

With Darren and Chris Bongers (Intruders, Henry Hoey Hobson, Dust)

Well that about takes us up to the end of September. My wife and I spent most of October in Melbourne house and bunny sitting for our daughter and son-in-law. What happened while we were there, plus a great couple of days I had in Monto in Qld, as well as happy news on my Work in Progress, I’ll leave until the next blog which is coming SOON.

No, it really is.

Seriously.

I promise!

Cheers
Michael

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

blog 101: In which I say something (but not much) about my WIP.

I was thinking the other day (yes, it does happen occasionally) that every new thing I’ve written has been different in some fundamental way from everything else that has gone before it.

For example …

My first published book The Running Man was a very serious YA novel.

This was followed by the Ishmael books which were comedies.

Then came Dinosaur Knights which was an action-adventure story with a touch of sci-fi and history.

Next was You Turkeys which was my first chapter book for early readers and also my first illustrated book thanks to Nahum Ziersch. Hi Nahum!

Just a Dog was different because it was my first book for middle-grade readers plus it had an 11 year old boy as the first person narrator

The Eric Vale series and their spin offs the Derek ‘Danger’ Dale series were different again because they were in a cartoon/comic book/graphic novel style and they were the first books I shared with my son Joe as illustrator.

My most recent book The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy and Me is a light-hearted teenage novel like the Ishmael books but it’s different from everything else I’ve done because for the first time it features a female character Maggie Butt as the first person narrator.

And in September 2017 I’m happy and excited to say, my first children’s picture book Rodney Loses It! will be published by Scholastic Australia with fabulous illustrations by Chrissie Krebs.

All of which brings me to the current WORK IN PROGRESS – my unauthorised autobiography with each copy personally handwritten in crayon on recycled butcher’s paper!

Wait, wait, wait.  Calm down.  Don’t get too excited. It was all just a cruel joke that went too far. I apologise without reservation. (and next time I promise I’ll book ahead with my apology.)

I never really like to talk much about what I’m  currently working on until it’s all finished. I’d be hopeless in a writers’ group. But what I can say is that my WIP is a semi-serious teenager novel with a 16-year-old boy as the narrator. So in that respect it’s similar to the Ishmael books although not with as much exaggerated humour.

The two main points of difference for the WIP from everything else I’ve had published, are that firstly, it’s  written in the present tense and secondly, all the action takes at one place on the one day – around eight hours to be more precise. The setting is a university open day for future students.

Here’s one I visited earlier this month for background research and inadvertently got myself enrolled in three university courses …

               

So far I’m on about my fourth draft. I think it’s getting there. Maybe 75+% of what I feel it could be. So there’s still a bit of improvement to go yet before I’m ready to let someone else read it (after my wife Adriana who is always my first reader) and pass their judgement on it.

And the next project after that?

Well I guess, ironically (or is it paradoxically) given the theme of this post, if all goes to plan, the next project actually won’t involve me doing something different.

Instead it will be a return to something I haven’t done since my first novel The Running Man was published in 2004 – and that is, to write a completely serious dramatic story. A story that might be set again in my home suburb of Ashgrove and could even contain some slender plot threads that link it ever so slightly to The Running Man.

Well that’s the plan, but of course there’s no guarantee that will actually happen because I’ve been going to write that serious YA novel for about the last six years now, and every time I’ve thought that I was ready to start, some other story has always managed to push its way in ahead of it.

But that’s the way it goes. You don’t find stories. They find you. And often they can be determined and stubborn little buggers who demand to be heard.

So while I think my next project will be a serious YA novel, you know what they say about the best laid plans of Mike and men …

Cheers
Michael

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

blog 100: In which I post the stunning conclusion to my 2 week odyssey in WA WA Land!

(* If you missed my blog about Week One or you want to recap go HERE.)

Author’s Log: Star Date Saturday June 3/Sunday June 4.

PREVIOUSLY on my Western Australian trip with Lesley Reece presenting writing workshops on behalf The Literature Centre, I had just returned to Fremantle to stay in the Centre for the long weekend.

You can read all about the wonderful work of the Centre here but as mentioned in the last blog it is housed inside the walls of the Old Fremantle Prison in what used to be the hospital section. This is the view from the back veranda of the Centre.

 

I’m pleased to say that I handled my time inside the Big House with ease. I mean it’s not like I became obsessed with locks and walls and stuff…

If you ever go to Fremantle a tour of the Old Prison is well worth taking. Although I must admit I found their advertising below terribly misleading.

IMG_20170604_112931.jpg

Seriously, I searched both sides of the prison and for the life of me I couldn’t see the Pyramids of Giza or The Great Wall of China anywhere. Quel disappointment!

While released on weekend parole for good behaviour, I checked out the beautiful buildings and sites of old Freo…

…including the statue located between the football ground and Fremantle Markets which commemorates the best mark ever taken on a roundabout while dislocating an opponent’s neck…

IMG_20170605_155551

…and this iconic Freo street art which clearly depicts ‘some kind of an animal’…

…as well as this sculpture which I think marks the site of Fremantle’s grizzliest ever murder.

IMG_20170604_174559

Back at the Centre I prepared for the week ahead by successfully doing all my washing – once I figured out which way the clothes line drying thingie went.

I also spent time perfecting my justifiably famous Shadow Art Performance entitled “One-Armed Man with Llama”.

IMG_20170604_114303

Author’s Log: Star Date Monday June 5 – Wednesday June 7.

Lesley and I flew from Perth airport and arrived at Port Hedland around 6.00pm. Checked in at the Esplanade Hotel.

Port Hedland is the world’s largest bulk tonnage export port, exporting 372.3 million tonnes per annum. World’s largest! Bet you didn’t know that. I’m pretty sure it’s also the home of the longest trains in the world.

P.H. is a heavy industry town of course but during our stay the weather was lovely and mild, and the  skies were crystal clear, so it had a stark, eerie beauty – especially at night.  

They tell me it’s salt but I’m not convinced. Over the two days we were there that already huge mound doubled in size.

IMG_20170606_170203

At Hedland SHS we had great writing workshops with Yr 7/8 and Yr 9/10 students from the Centre’s Talented Young Writers Programme as well as afternoon sessions with junior and senior indigenous students taking part in the Follow the Dream Programme.

IMG_20170607_090932

Author’s Log: Star Date Thursday June 7.

We left Port Hedland and were transported around 400 kms through the magnificent Pilbara to Newman by our fantastic Taxi driver Mick who is originally from Romania.

The ever-changing landscape was spectacular and check out that sky!

IMG_20170608_105846 IMG_20170608_095712

IMG_20170608_083642a

IMG_20170608_090646 

 

Author’s Log: Star Date Friday June 9.

The final day of writing workshops with small groups of Yr 7/8s and Yr 9/10s at Newman SHS. A great way to finish the fortnight.

Left Newman airport at 4.05pm and arrived in Perth at 5.50pm. Spent the night back at the Literature Centre.

Author’s Log: Star Date Saturday June 10.

 

Left The Literature Centre and the beautiful clear skies of WA early in the morning and flew back home to Brisbane and the Sunshine State.

Where it was raining. And still is, as I write this.

A big thanks goes to Lesley Reece for inviting me on the Talented Young Writers Programme for a second time and for her guidance, support, companionship, good humour and sheer hard work  over the two weeks.

Thanks too to the teachers and librarians at the various school for their support and friendly welcome.  And of course a huge congratulations and thanks to the awesome kids in all the workshops whose enthusiasm, co-operation and love of writing made my job a pleasure. 

The Literature Centre does an amazing job supporting Australian authors and in encouraging and nurturing young writers right around WA. None of it would exist in the first place without Lesley’s foresight or continue without her passion and dedication and that of her wonderful support team at the Centre. If you know anyone with spare cash looking for a good cause tell them about the Literature Centre. They are in desperate need of funding to continue their wonderful work and programmes. 

Cheers
Michael

ps: I had the great pleasure of spending some time at the Literature Centre with the super-talented writer, artist, musician and composer Matt Ottley. He even played some flamenco guitar which he has done professionally in the past. He was brilliant.

I am not brilliant, but I leave you with a brief video of me attempting some simple 12 bar blues on Matt’s expensive flamenco guitar in front of a wall of Matt Ottley artwork. (Naturally I never played a note in his actual presence.)

All my life I’ve suffered for my music. Now it’s your turn.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

blog 99: In which I visit WA WA Land – Part the First.

This is a log of the first week of my two week trip to Western Australia presenting writing workshops as part of The Literature Centre’s Talented Young Writers’ Programme.

Author’s Log: Star Date Sunday May 28.

Woke up dull and early Sunday morning. Departed Brisvegas 8.40am. Crossed the wide, brown land. Views from window confirm both width and browniness of Australian landmass. Arrived Perth WA approx five and a half hours later. My decision to fly rather than undertake the journey on foot seems totally vindicated.

Three hour wait at Perth airport before next flight to Albany. Spent the time eating, relaxing, reading and navel-gazing. Ceased navel-gazing after third warning from airport security that navel gazing must be limited to my own navel. What’s the fun in that?

Eventually joined at the airport by Lesley Reece – Founder and Director of the Fremantle Literature Centre (TLC), champion of Children’s Writing and Australian Children’s Authors for over twenty years, Order of Australia recipient and all-round remarkable woman. We fly to Albany arriving at 5.15pm.

After eating at a nearby Indian Restaurant, we call it a night. (Although to be fair, we probably weren’t the first ones to come up with that description.)

Author’s Log: Star Date Monday May 29.

Youth Literature Day at Great Southern GrammarAll day writing workshops with approx 60 Yr 9-12 students from various schools. Lovely kids. All goes well. Great way to start the week.

In the afternoon I walk around Albany town centre and down to the harbour. The water is like a mirror. Only wetter. And much more difficult to hang on a wall.

IMG_20170529_172504

              IMG_20170529_170718_458   IMG_20170529_162500

Author’s Log Star Date  Tuesday May 30.

Second day of workshops at Great Southern Grammar. This time with around 110 Yr 6 – 8s from a variety of schools. Awesome kids. Great day.

IMG_20170530_171857

Important toilet and fire drill info being imparted.

Depart Albany by plane 5.40pm. Arrive Perth 6.50pm. Stay at Hotel near airport overnight.

Author’s Log: Star Date Wednesday May 31.

Leave Perth 7.00am. Fly to Geraldton . Arrive 8.00am.

IMG_20170601_172605

They really shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble. It’s embarrassing!

At John Willcock College for a Young Writers’ Day with 45 Yr 6 students.

IMG_20170601_085444

Lesley casting a spell on the children.

During the day I discover to my horror (but not surprise) that my ‘friend’ and fellow author Barry Jonsberg who has presented writing workshops with these same students a few months earlier has attempted to poison the kids’ minds against me by telling them that I ‘sucked’! BUT in a totally unexpected counter move, I somehow manage to turn the tables on him by actually ‘not sucking’!

As evidence of my suck-less status I’d like to table two short extract from the student feedback sheets.

IMG_20170531_180530 (2)

Perhaps this could be my epitaph. “He wasn’t great, but at least he didn’t suck.”

img_20170531_171322.jpg

Take that Baz! As you can see from the second comment it’s obvious that my talent can only  be adequately encompassed by the use of double superlatives! From now on I will be referring to Barry as Mr Ninety-five Percent.

Once again the kids were beautiful and it was a pleasure to work with them.

At night I made Lesley Reece AM watch some of State of Origin 1.

It was the first time in her life Lesley had ever watched a Rugby League match. She assured me it would never happen again and in future if she wished to witness a no-holds-barred contest she would stick with Master Chef. (Secretly though I think that Lesley, like me, was just heart-broken that the Mighty Maroons didn’t win. I’ll be sending her an email just before the second game to remind her to get her Queensland supporter’s jersey on.)

Author’s Log: Star Date Thursday June 1.

Second day of writing workshops at John Willcock College. This time with about 35 yr 7/8 students.

Yet another bunch of wonderful, inspiring young people (except at the start maybe when they were super keen to inform me that Barry Jonsberg told them to tell me that I ‘sucked’!) Baz is the gift that keeps on giving!

Thanks to the lovely library staff for the author display and for the masses of delicious homemade food they forced me to eat. In the sessions I attempted to put the students nerves at rest by doing a writing activity based on FEAR.

IMG_20170531_151326   IMG_20170601_122012

Author’s Log: Friday June 2.

Youth Literature Day workshop at Geraldton Senior College with 45 yr 9-12 students.

IMG_20170602_085619

Caught up with the school’s librarian and fellow author and friend, Dr Glyn Parry  which is always a lot of fun. Glyn’s a terrific storyteller with some wonderful and at times eye-popping stories to tell!

Another really enjoyable day of sessions.

I feel so fortunate to get to work and spend time with so many enthusiastic, friendly, funny, dedicated, co-operative and talented students. Have not got a single bad word to say about any one of them. Great, great kids and a real treat and honour to get to  hear their words and stories.

A big thanks and shout out also to the magnificent, over-worked and often under-appreciated (by some) teachers and the more-than-worth-their-weight-in-gold librarians and TLs who help and support all the students.

Thanks too to Geraldton (and Albany) for turning on the beautiful weather and for the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.

IMG_20170601_055607_LI  IMG_20170601_055512

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Departed Geraldton by plane 6.10pm. Arrived Perth 7.15pm. Taken in our driver Peter’s very comfortable taxi to The Literature Centre which is housed inside the Old Fremantle Prison.

IMG_20170603_142515  IMG_20170604_113951

And that’s where I am now and will be until Lesley and I fly out on Monday afternoon for another week of talks and workshops this time in Port Hedland and Newman.

More about all that and my two and a half days in Freo in the next blog.

Cheers
Michael

ps: A lot of authors I know who have stayed here at The Literature Centre inside the Old Fremantle Prison say that it’s haunted and have posted messages on my Facebook page obviously trying to scare me.

But seriously, do I look scared to you?

IMG_20170602_200438 (3)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments