SCRIBE AWARDS shortlist 2020

Wow! My short story, “Pure History”, from the Lethbridge-Stewart anthology The Havoc Files: The Laughing Gnome has made it onto the shortlist for this year’s SCRIBE AWARDS. These awards are organised by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) and are described in the official blurb as follows…

“Acknowledging excellence in this very competitive field, the IAMTW’s Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and that cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes.

I am over-the-moon excited! And this is such a welcome motivational boost. I am currently finishing up my novel for the Lethbridge-Stewart series and facing my usual “OMG! What if this isn’t good enough? What if the editor hates it?” fears. While this shortlisting hasn’t completely done away with those fears, it has boosted my confidence a little.

Many thanks to Lethbridge-Stewart series editor Andy Frankham-Allen from Candy Jar Books for giving me the writing gig. HUGE thanks to the judges for including my story on this awesome list. This is the second time I’ve been shortlisted, the first being in 2017 for my short story “An Eye For an Eye” from the anthology, The X-Files: Secret Agendas.

And, of course, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to all the nominated authors (especially fellow Candy Jar author John Peel). Check out the full shortlist here. There’s some really cool stuff on it.

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Another YOU CHOOSE Reading

The Covid-19 Isolation continues… and so do my reading vids. This one is from You Choose: In the Realm of Dragons.

This is my first attempt at using green screen to create a split screen video in order to have two of me in the same shot. It was A LOT harder than I anticipated. I ended up having to convert the whole thing into Black & White in order to hide some of the more noticeable lighting flaws. And there was a lot of editing to make up for the poor timing of the original vids. But I had lots of fun putting it together and I think it’s not too bad for a first attempt.

 

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Writing for the Primary Education Market

With everyone self-isolating, everything seems to be moving into the virtual sphere. I’m normally out and about doing school talks, library visits and writing workshops… but that’s all on hold. So these things are slowly being transposed into cyberspace. And to kick things off, I’ll be presenting “Writing for the Primary Education Market” with the Shooting Star Development Academy. It was originally scheduled for early April, but the whole Shooting Star program ended up being delayed and rescheduled to early May.

The class will now be held on Monday 4 May 2020, 7pm-8:45pm, delivered via Zoom. The cost $50.

This is a condensed version of the sell-out workshop I ran for Writers Vic on three occasions.

Book here!

The Blurb…

The primary school education market is an often-ignored area of publishing, but it can be a great way into the children’s writing industry. Text books are specialised and written by experts in the relevant field; but school readers, primary school non-fiction books, chapter books linked to the Australian curriculum, and other educational resources are a great opportunity for children’s writers. But writing for the Education Market is quite different to writing for the trade. Find out all about it in this class.
You will learn:

  • The scope of the education market.
  • The requirements of the education market.
  • The do’s and don’ts of writing for the education market.
  • How to get a foot in the door.

Book here.

There are also a whole bunch of other great classes being offered with Australian authors, musicians, producers, directors and other creatives. Check out the full Shooting Star program.

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Beast World reading

Here’s another reading. This one is from Beast World, which is Book 2 in the OTHER WORLDS series. Although these books can be read as a sequential series, they are also designed to work as stand-alones. This time, I’ve played around a bit with editing and special effects. I am very much enjoying the process of creating videos with iMovie, although this vid also uses an iPhone app called MegaPhoto to create the wormhole effect.

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Climate Change reading

Another week of pandemic induced self-isolation… another video reading. Something a little different this time. It’s only the first scene of my short story “Future Dreaming”, which appeared in the anthology Under the Weather: Stories about climate change (ed: Tony Bradman, Frances Lincoln, UK, 2009). But then I go on to give you my two cents worth on the whole climate change situation.

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FLYING DOCTORS reading

I’m back with another reading video, this time from The RFDS Adventures: Emergency Echo. In this extract, we get to hear about Fergus Callaghan, a pilot with the Aerial Medical Service (the precursor to the RFDS) in the 1930s.

Please excuse my Irish accent. :-)

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Some more reading

Self-isolation is still happening, so here’s another reading to help you pass the time.  My Aussie accent is pretty shocking and REALLY inconsistent… but who cares! This reading features Bruce The Dropbear, and even a couple of my chickens manage to make an appearance. Many thanks to my wife Kerri for directing and my daughter Lexi for chicken-wrangling.

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Cover Reveal

It’s time for a cover reveal! It seems rather appropriate to be revealing the cover of The Human Body Survival Guide as we are all trying to survive a viral pandemic… especially since viruses get their own section in this book. (No, the Covid-19 pandemic is not a marketing ploy on my part.)

I adore this cover. It works so well in tandem with the cover of The Australia Survival Guide, but it’s also very striking in it’s own right. I love the blood red colour and the use of a DNA strand.

Those of you who were really paying attention, may have noticed the cover already made its first public appearance a few days ago in my video about virtual visits and videos for schools.

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Book Readings

With self-isolation being the new norm during this time of viral pandemic, I thought I’d inflict a bit of reading on the unsuspecting Interwebs. Here are a couple short excerpts from my books…

The first is a reading from the interactive You Choose: The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove:

And the second is a reading from Game On!, the first book in the Gamers trilogy:

Hope you enjoyed these. I’ll try to get some more recorded before this pandemic comes to an end.

Stay safe and keep reading!

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Videos and Virtual Visits

Life in Australia has become rather strange since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing has become a thing, hand sanitising is now the norm, and panic buying of toilet paper has hit insanity levels. But schools have also been affected. Many have closed due to staff or students having contracted the virus. States have announced early closures for term holidays and doubt hangs over when schools will reopen. Everything is in flux and major decisions are being made on a day-to-day basis.

Understandably, in these uncertain times, author visits to schools are being cancelled or postponed. But while actual face-to-face visits may not be currently appropriate, virtual visits are taking off. Authors are making themselves available over platforms such as Skype and Zoom, to continue interacting with classes, enthusing kids about reading and inspiring them to write.

I’ve put together a little light-hearted video to advertise my own virtual visits and to offer teachers another alternative for term 2 this year – custom-made author videos.

I can create short videos on a variety of writing related topics, which could be used in both actual and virtual classroom situations. A perfect alternative to author visits, if schools are closed and students are working from home. Videos could include readings, background on books or book series, workshop style videos explaining aspects of the writing process, or simply the answering of student questions. If a teacher were to gather up questions from their students and email them to me, I could answer the questions in the video, naming the students as I answer, in order to give them a sense of interaction and connection.

If there are any teachers or school librarians interested in virtual visits or custom videos, please get in contact.

Stay safe!

Posted in Appearances, Australia Survival Guide, books, Doctor Who, Gamers series, Nonfiction, Otherworlds, RFDS, The Human Body Survival Guide | Leave a comment

Doctor Who Series 12

I’ve been obsessed with Doctor Who since I was about ten years old. As a kid, the series got me into reading and writing. As an adult it continues to inspire me, influencing my writing. So I greet each new season with much eagerness and enthusiasm. I will often comment on each new episode on social media after watching… but this year I posted mini-reviews and took silly photos to go along with them. It was a lot of fun! And since I went to the trouble of doing all that, I thought it might be a cool idea to collect those reviews and pics into a blog post. :-)

Overall I was really impressed with Series 12. I am continuing to love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, who brings such exuberance and a sense of fun to the role. I like all three companions – and I like that the number of companions echoes the early days of the series. I was also really happy to have more historical episodes again.

After an absence of returning monsters/villains last season (which I thought was a breath of fresh air), it was nice to see some of them back again. I thought there was a good mix of old and new this season. And for the most part, I liked the season’s story arc.

SPYFALL PART 1

So good to have her back!

Such an exciting return!

Loved it!

Loved the whole James Bondiness of it all… particularly the music. A really fun way to kick off the new season.

Fav bits:

  • The music.
  • “Worst Uber ever!”
  • “I’ve had an upgrade.”
  • Stephen Fry… although I wish he had longer.
  • Lenny Henry.
  • “Snap!”
  • “I’ve made ice tea. Possibly.”

The BIG reveal at the end.

SPYFALL PART 2

Yes, this is a laser screwdriver. What can I say? I don’t own a tissue compression eliminator.

Okay, so it was not quite as good as the previous ep… but still pretty great! Particularly loved the Master. Sacha Dhawan is so good in the role; and so different to the last version. The Kasaavin were a bit anticlimactic, but Lenny Henry’s announcement speech was so good. As was his little encounter with his mum. I wish Ada and Noor had more screen time. But the best bit? Jodrell Bank.

ORPHAN 55

Green hair for a green ep!

This episode lacked the wow factor of the 2-part season opener, but it was a good, solid, disaster movie ep with an environmental message. Yes, the environmental message wasn’t exactly subtle… But given that polar icecaps are melting at an incredible rate, weather extremes are increasing and Australia is literally on fire (while greedy politicians and stupid science-deniers are pretending everything is just hunky-dory), I’m fine with subtlety being thrown to the wind on this particular topic. And the Doc’s little speech was quite powerful.

Benni and Vilma were my fav characters. The moment Benni’s proposal was interrupted I shouted, “they’re gonna die!”… cause that’s what happens in disaster flicks. Sylas was my next fav and I really liked the subplot with him and his dad.

The creature design was really good, with their name being a bit of a hint as to what they really were.

The only character who didn’t really work for me was Bella. Her motivation seemed flimsy and the pseudo-romance with Ryan struck me as a bit forced.

All up… a pretty good ep. But not as good as Ed Hime’s ep from last season, “It Takes You Away”.

NIKOLA TESLA’S NIGHT OF TERROR

LOVED IT! In fact, I loved it so much, my eyes went red and I almost turned into a Skithra.

Such a well-paced, exciting, interesting story. Thoughts…

  • I am loving that the Chibnall era has seen the return of regular historical stories. Having said that, I would now love to see a Hartnell-era style, pure historical.
  • Although Bowie will forever be my fav Tesla, Goran Visnjic delivered a fine performance, as did Robert Glenister as Edison. I loved the interaction between these two and their interaction with the Doctor.
  • The Skithra were interesting. I kept waiting for the Doc to say something about them being related to the Racnoss… but no!
  • Great to see Anjli Mohindra returning to the Whoniverse as the Skithra Queen.
  • The way the Skithra used the tech of other races was nicely in snyc with the way Edison used the creativity of others.
  • There’s some great dialogue: “You’re too blind to see that my factory is the best idea either one of us ever had.”
  • “Oi, AC/DC!”
  • “Have you ever seen a dead planet?” The look on the Doctor’s face.

FUGITIVE OF THE JUDOON

“You missed me, right?”

OMG! I am still in shock! What an audacious ep. So much to love…

  • The return of the Judoon.
  • The return of Captain Jack.
  • The kiss!
  • The return of the Chameleon Arch.
  • The BIG reveal! OMG! Another previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor. And isn’t she magnificent!
  • Adored the big confrontation between the principal players. And I’m sure the fact that it was four powerful women facing off, will further piss off the #NotMyDoctor nutters.
  • Really liked the indiscriminate killing. Especially the old lady. Made it all feel more dangerous.
  • Really liked Gat. Such a pity she was killed off.

PRAXEUS

Watch out for the plastic!

I am loving the environmental theme of this season. And I really enjoyed this ep. It suffers a little from following a mind-blowing ep, but holds up pretty well. Co-written by Peter McTighe who wrote “Kerblam” for Series 11. He seems to have a bit of a plastic obsession, doesn’t he… from deadly bubble wrap to a plastic loving bacterium.

Fav things:

  • The homage to Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS.
  • Adam and Jake. Great characters. Loved them a lot. So pleased that they were both saved. I actually cheered when the Doc saved Jake.
  • Graham’s chat with Jake. Blimey, Walsh is such a good actor. That melancholy little smile as he thinks of Grace… heartbreaking.
  • “Look at you, going off on your own and not getting killed.”
  • The revelation of Suki as the villain.

What I didn’t like:

  • The travel vlogger Gabriela. She got over the death of her best friend a tad too quickly and she was generally annoying.
  • Everyone seemed to be able to operate alien equipment a little too easily.

A good, solid ep… but not as good as McTighe’s ep from Series 11.

CAN YOU HEAR ME?

So creepy, my fingers wouldn’t stay connected!

Such a wonderfully atmospheric ep. And I loved the way it handled the theme of mental health.

Fav things:

  • The fingers. CREEPY!
  • The animated storytelling bit. Gorgeous!
  • Yaz’s backstory. It explains why she’s always trying to help people. She wants to be like the policewoman who helped her.
  • Graham’s fears. Every moment he has on screen reaffirms his position as my favourite character of this era.
  • I adore how one little throw-away speech connected this ep with Classic Who’s Toymaker, Eternals and Guardians.
  • The coda. Beautifully done.

Not so great:

  • The sonic-waving solution. The two dream eternals are just whisked away a little too easily without any real explanation.

The ‘socially awkward’ scene between the Doc and Graham seems to have caused a lot of controversy. I liked it. I felt so very sorry for Graham, who obviously needed a little reassurance… but couldn’t get it from the Doctor. As for the Doc, the scene indicated that she struggles with her own issues. It worked well within the context of the ep.

THE HAUNTING OF VILLA DIODATI

“The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them – She was the Universe.”

This ep had everything! Ghosts, a creepy house, historical figures, poetry and a really cool Cyberman. Loved it heaps! It was beautifully shot, especially the early scenes where the ghosts appear briefly. Very creepy and atmospheric.

Fav things:

  • “Words matter!” They do indeed!
  • The way they wove in Byron and Shelly’s writing.
  • The inspiration for Frankenstein.
  • The Lone Cyberman’s design.
  • The Doc’s team structure speech.
  • The reference to Bill Potts.
  • Fletcher
  • Graham’s toilet quest.

Who were the ghosts that Graham encountered and will this be important in the future?

ASCENSION OF THE CYBERMEN

Is that high enough?

What an action-packed, tense and gripping penultimate episode. Yes, it was all setup – but such great setup. The Brendan stuff was intriguing. There’s a bit of a biblical feel to Ko Sharmus. For a moment there, I thought he might part the red sea.

Fav bits:

  • The opening – what a superb transition into the credits.
  • The return to a more Classic look with the Cybermen Warriors.
  • The Doc’s regret at getting her Fam involved in something so dangerous.
  • “a Cyberman that makes other Cybermen scream”
  • The Master’s surprise return at the end.

Not so great:

  • The flying Cyberheads were a bit naff!

THE TIMELESS CHILDREN

’Tis all about the Time Lords!

On the whole, I really enjoyed this ep. It was fun and dramatic and emotional and really interesting. Having said that, I do have some mixed feelings.

The BIG reveal!

  • It is a clever concept in that it changes everything and nothing. Although it changes her backstory and gives her more prior selves, the Doc is still the Doc. Still the same character. Her origins are just more mysterious now, putting the ‘Who’ back into Doctor Who.
  • I actually found the reveal a tad anti-climactic. I expected something BIGGER. Something more canon-shaking. I will admit that my response is probably coloured by the fact that I REALLY, REALLY wanted looms!
  • The big plus, of course, is that it validates the Morbius Doctors. Take that, you Morbius Doc deniers.
  • Speaking of Morbius Doctors, wasn’t the Matrix overload cool. Although, I’m not sure why it worked.
  • And it all fits with the more-than-just-a-time-lord elements of the 7th Doctor era.

The Cybermen storyline:

  • Loved the lone Cyberman and I like how he was dispatched, but I really wanted to know more about him and his origins.
  • Loved the Cybermen all up. So good to have them feel like a threat again. And them marching through the ruins of Gallifrey was pretty cool.
  • The CyberMasters were such a super cool idea. And visually wonderful. But I’m not sure they actually make all that much sense. I mean, the Time Lords were dead, dead… so how come they could regenerate as Cybermen? And if they were just dead, as opposed to dead dead, why didn’t they regenerate before becoming Cybermen? My head hurts trying to work that one out.

The Master:

  • Sacha Dhawan is so good! Can we keep him for some more seasons? “I do believe you’re appealing to my better nature. And we both know I don’t have one.”
  • I would have liked to know how he destroyed Gallifrey. I’m not the sort of viewer who needs everything explained (Hell, I love the fact that the Master keeps coming back after he’s supposedly been disposed of, without any explanation. It’s almost a running joke and I love it.), but the destruction of Gallifrey is kind of a BIG thing. Like, SUPER BIG!

The Future:

  • Loved the cliff-hanger ending. Not so loving the fact that we have to wait until Christmas (or New Year) to have it resolved.
  • So, this ep, while explaining and revealing some things, still hasn’t answered everything. Like, exactly where the Ruth Doctor fits into things. Who is Brendan? And of course, we still don’t know what the redacted Matrix info is and what affect it will have on things. So, who knows where the story will go next season.
  • And the BIG thing to remember is that information from the Matrix is not necessarily all that reliable. (see Trial of a Time Lord)

Wherever the series goes next, I am loving that Chibnall is playing the long game here… setting stuff up (remember the Timeless Child was first mentioned early in Series 11.) then following through. And he seems to have a plan – something I always felt Moffat lacked.

Well, there you have it… my opinions on each ep. My nomination of favourite ep would be “Fugitive of the Judoon”, closely followed by “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror”.

Now we have to wait until the end of the year for the next ep. Aaaaarggghhhhhh!

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GAMERS Publication Day

Happy Publication Day to the new-look GAMERS trilogy. Originally published between 2009 and 2013, they are back with new covers, new titles and new marketing. These awesome covers are by Matthew Lin.

All three books can now be purchased directly from Ford Street Publishing. Or you can get your favourite bookshop to order them in.

The Gamers books were my first novels and they hold a very special place in my heart. These are the books I wrote for 13-year-old me – the video game playing, sci-fi obsessed teen. Into these books I put all the stuff that fascinated me at this age. As a teenager I spent a lot of time wondering what sort of person I would be when I grew up. And I craved the perceived freedom I would have when I finally finished school. I also spent many hours pondering the bizarre notion that I, and everyone else in the world, might just be pawns in some game controlled by a higher power. So I wove these concepts of reality, identity and freedom into the narrative.

Although already available for purchase, these new editions will get their official launch on Saturday 7 March 2020. Come along and join the celebrations…

 

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Voices on the Coast

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending Voices on the Coast in Queensland. Organised by Immanuel Lutheran College in conjunction with The University of the Sunshine Coast, it was two days of immersion in books and all things reading, as students were bussed in from surrounding schools to attending presentations and workshops with a heap of authors and illustrators.

I had such a good time! I got to present sessions on research (something that I LOVE doing) as well as workshops on how to write interactive stories. In between sessions it was off to the QBD bookstall to sign books, bags, water bottles and bookmarks. I even managed to get to see one of the other presenters. Author/filmmaker/adventurer Tim Cope presented a fascinating and inspiring talk about his travels in remote parts of the world. I was spellbound by his photos, videos and stories. Much as I would have liked to, I didn’t get the chance to see any other presenters in action, due to my schedule.

On the first evening, the festival also held a public event out on the lawn in front of the library at Immanuel Lutheran College. There was food and drink as well as entertainment. Morris Gleitzman spoke, Lucas Proudfoot played the didgeridoo and students from the school sang and played instruments. The highlight for me was one of the students, Josh Linnett, singing songs such as “Girl From Ipanema” and “My Funny Valentine”. He has an incredible voice and was a joy to listen to. Go check out his YouTube Channel.

Huge thanks to Kelly Dunham and all her fab volunteers for putting together such a memorable festival. And a shout out to author extraordinaire Tim Harris, with whom I got to be roomies for the duration of the festival.

PS. I may have jumped on the hotel bed! Again!

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Me and the Brigadier

One of my all-time favourite characters from DOCTOR WHO is Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, head of U.N.I.T. during the Pertwee era, as portrayed on screen by the late, great Nicholas Courtney. So it is with much excitment (and not a little bit of disbelief) that I now find myself writing the character.

In 2015, Candy Jar Books in Cardiff began its series of Lethbridge-Stewart books – mostly novels, with the occasional short story anthology. Of course, I started reading and collecting the series immediately. This series is mostly set between the Brig’s first appearance in “The Web of Fear” and the formation of U.N.I.T. In addition to the Brig, the series also features Anne Travers in a major role, as well as other characters created by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. [They wrote three serials for DOCTOR WHO: “Web of Fear”, “The Abominable Snowmen” and “The Dominators”.]

In 2019 I found myself invited to write a short story for the anthology The Havoc Files: The Laughing Gnome. I pitched a couple of ideas, one focusing on the Brig and one about Anne Travers. The end result was “Pure History”, a story in which an older Anne finds herself astral projected into the past. Arriving at the University of Melbourne in 1986, she is confronted by a fanatical student group intent on maintaining the purity of history by capturing and sacrificing time travellers such as herself. The story was a joy to write, allowing me to revisit my old undergraduate stomping grounds and feature the university’s iconic underground car park.

Anne was pushed and pulled through the cavernous car park, pylons of concrete mushrooming up from the floor at regular intervals and meeting the ceiling, which arched between them. The place would have looked quite surreal if not for the mundane presence of so many cars.

The boisterous shouts of her kidnappers echoed through the underground, as they took her to a far corner. Friedrich lifted a hand to the wall. A portion of the floor by Anne’s feet shimmered and seemed to dissolve. Looking at it made her feel queasy. That is not current technology, she thought. Who are these people?

With the story completed and well received by the publisher, I was invited to pitch for a novel. Thankfully, they liked one of the two ideas I threw at them. And I am now in fan-boy heaven!

Fear Frequency is the working title and it is set in October 1970. I’m only a couple of chapters in, so there is still a long way to go… but it is SO MUCH FUN! I’ve already written the Brig’s first couple of scenes, I’ve used Anne and a few of the other characters original to this series of books, and I’ve created some of my own characters to add into the mix. It’s slow going in these early stages as I have to keep stopping to research elements of 1970 UK – like what the ITV switchboard would have looked like; and the logo for the BBC’s Nationwide current affairs program.

What’s Fear Frequency about? Well, I don’t want to say too much yet, as things often change during the writing process. But there’s a synthesised television theme that seems to be scaring a lot of people; a has-been, one-hit-wonder pop star turned entrepreneur; some shady criminal types; and an aged care facility with some nasty secrets.

The book is scheduled for a late 2020 publication.

And that’s all I’m gonna say for the time being, ‘cause the Brigadier is waiting for me.

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Gamers Trilogy cover reveal

Okay folks, here they are… the awesome new covers by Matthew Lin for the three Gamers novels…

These new editions will be released by Ford Street Publishing in March 2020.

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2019 wrap up

It’s the New Year! It’s the New Decade! It’s time to celebrate and look forward to 2020, which has such a lovely science-fiction ring to it. But it’s also a chance to look back and celebrate the past as well.

My BIG publication for 2019 was The Australia Survival Guide, released on 1 October by Puffin Australia. It was the culmination of LOTS of research and a lengthy writing period, and I am so proud of it. I also got to make some VERY silly vids to promote it. Loads of fun!

2019 also saw the publication of four school readers in Macmillan Education’s phonics-based Snappy Sounds series – Fly and SoarMike’s BikeBunny Knick Knack and Astronaut Jigsaw. Macmillan also released new editions of the three novelettes I wrote for them ten years ago – The Next FinderX Marks the MP3 and The Bookworm Mystery. But after all this, Macmillan Education announced that it was pulling out of Australia. The Snappy Sounds series has been passed on to Lioncrest Education, but the novelettes are now gone – although the rights have reverted to me, so maybe I’ll be able to find another publisher to take them on in the future.

And finally, in terms of publication, I had a short story, “Pure History”, appear in the Lethbridge-Stewart anthology, The Havoc Files: The Laughing Gnome. This was a BIG fanboy moment for me, getting to play in the peripheries of the Doctor Who sandbox.

You Choose: Alien Invaders From Beyond the Stars was shortlisted in the REAL awards (YABBAs, KOALAs and KROCs) again this year. This is the fifth time a You Choose book has been shortlisted in these awards, and the third time for this specific book. Although it didn’t win, it was still a HUGE honour to make that shortlist.

As well as all the writing, there was a large amount of speaking again. I did a couple of festivals — The Williamstown Literary Festival and Ipswich StoryArts Festival — a Wimmera mobile library tour, a week-long tour in the Circular Heads region of Tasmania, and a tour with other Penguin Random House authors to coincide with the YABBA/KOALA awards in Melbourne and Sydney. And, of course, there were loads of individual school and library visits. Here are the stats…

  • 41 schools
  • 7 libraries
  • 4 bookshop events
  • 3 festivals/conventions

Bringing the grand total to – 149 individual sessions.

I used to do a fair bit of acting back in my youth. I don’t do much any more. But occasionally something pops up. And in 2019, my guest spot on the audio series Night Terrace was broadcast by BBC Radio 4, which is was massive buzz!

Looking back on the last decade is rather astounding. This has been the decade of my writing career. In the last ten years I started being published by Penguin Random House (beginning with the first You Choose book in 2014), I went full-time as a writer and have managed to carve out a little niche for myself in the Australian children’s literature scene. This decade has seen three book series completed — You ChooseThe RFDS Adventures and OTHER WORLDS — and a new series of Survival Guides begun. It’s been an amazing ride. I look forward to seeing where the next ten years will take me.

2020 is, yet again, shaping up to be a big year. I have already announced The Human Body Survival Guide, and the fact that my Gamers trilogy is being re-branded, re-jacketed and re-published (the cover reveal is coming soon). I’ve got more school readers scheduled for publication. And there are some other things in the works.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PS. I am REALLY excited about the new series of Doctor Who.

Posted in books, Doctor Who, Education market, Gamers series, Media Tie-in, Otherworlds, RFDS, The Human Body Survival Guide, You Choose series | Leave a comment

NEW Survival Guide

Yes folks, it’s announcement time… I am officially revealing that my next book is The Human Body Survival Guide!

This follow-up to The Australia Survival Guide, is keeping the feel and approach of the first, but with a very different topic. It is particularly focused on all the gross stuff. So this book is full of poo and wee and puke. It has secretions as well as excretions. It is swarming with lice and worms and nematodes and those teeny-tiny mites that live in your eyelashes. It is infested with bacteria and viruses and fungi and protozoa. Oh yeah… and there’s also some info in there about blood and brains and muscles and bones and that kind of stuff. (BTW… that’s my wife’s brain in the pic.)

I handed the draft in to my publisher on Monday. There’s still a heap of work to do, with editing and fact checking. Then there’s all the design. So it will be a while before it hits the shelves. It’s been scheduled for October 2020.

Researching this book has been interesting, although there have been a few TRAUMATIC moments. NEVER do a Google image search on necrotising fasciitis. There are things that cannot be unseen. But on the whole it’s been fun!

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The reviews are in

The Australia Survival Guide, my first foray into commercial non-fiction, was published by Puffin Australia on 1 October 2019. And I was nervous. Seriously nervous! After all, I’m known for writing fiction, mostly science fiction, fantasy and OTT action/adventure. Yes, I’ve written loads of educational non-fiction, but that’s a completely different market. So this book was quite a departure for me.

I’ve been holding my breath, hoping that readers will like it, hoping that it will sell well.

But I’m starting to calm down now and feel a little more confident. The book has had heaps of reviews and OMG… the reviews have been amazing. Seriously, I am over the moon.

So, here’s a little taste of what people have been saying, starting with my favourite one…

“George Ivanoff is not just a pretty face. Under that luxuriant  mop of ever-changing hair there’s an inventive and clever brain which can produce not only awesome adventures of the fictional kind for readers but now the ultimate field guide to surviving in the harsh reality of the Australian landscape.”
Just So Stories
Read the whole review

“Humour is used to great effect throughout, making this important information entertaining and accessible. You can tell that Ivanoff had more than a little fun writing this book.”
Better Reading
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“The author cleverly uses a fictional 13-year-old boy who’s reluctantly travelling around Australia with his family as the book’s narrator. This highly relatable character plays a large part in dispelling the fear factor for readers 9+ years.”
Reading Time
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“Celebrate all that is Australia with its quirky flora, fauna and environment in this fun yet educational book perfect for primary schoolers.”
Kids’ Book Review
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“From the author of the interactive You Choose series, comes a reference book with a modern twist.”
“Ivanoff has created a reference book that speaks to the screen dominated youth of today.”
Magpies
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“Every page is filled with interesting and sometimes fascinating facts. One could imagine the target market for this book – children aged from nine years plus – spending countless hours reading and dipping into the 175 pages.”
Buzz Words
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“With its practical nature, appealing layout and focus on things that fascinate, it could be the perfect foundation for Term 4 investigations.”
The Bottom Shelf
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“I liked the book because it has lots of fact boxes about different animals. I think this book would suit both boys or girls aged 7 to 11.”
Alphabet Soup – reviewed by 7-year-old Rory
Read the whole review

As well as these fab reviews, here are a couple of interviews/guest posts I did about the book…

And to top it all off, when I attended StoryArts Festival Ipswich, The Australia Survival Guide ended up being the best selling book of the festival.

Keep an eye on my blog for the upcoming announcement about the new Survival Guide I’ve been working on.

Posted in Australia Survival Guide, books, Interviews, Nonfiction, Writing | Leave a comment

Return of the GAMERS

Zyra is coming back!

Tark is coming back!

The GAMERS trilogy is coming back!

My first trilogy of novels is set to be rebranded and rereleased March 2020 with Ford Street Publishing. AWESOME new covers have been created by the amazingly talented Matthew Lin. And the books have new individual titles that are a little more snappy, contemporary and game-ish.

Here’s a teaser…

Can’t wait to do a full reveal of the covers. Watch this space!

I am so excited about this!

Posted in books, Gamers series | 2 Comments

Ipswich StoryArts 2019

I love a good literary festival – both as a writer/speaker and as a reader. The StoryArts Festival Ipswich, is one of the best. And I was lucky enough to be invited along.

Five days worth of amazing book-related programming for kids. That’s right (write)… FIVE DAYS! How cool is that! The program was divided between the sprawling estate of Woodlands of Marburg and a number of venues in the city of Ipswich. Of all the festivals I’ve done over the years, this is the one at which I’ve had the largest number of sessions… four sessions on one of the days and then three sessions a day on the remaining four days. So I had the chance to speak to waaaaaaaaaaay more kids than I would normally at a festival. What an AWESOME opportunity! And a privilege. I loved every minute of it.

With such a full-on schedule, it did mean that I was unable to see many of the other presenters, because I was usually presenting at the same time they were. Having said that, I did manage a few. Valanga Khoza spoke and sung and played instruments and generally held the audience in the palm of his hand at the festival reception. Such an incredibly talented performer and captivating storyteller. He even enticed the other authors and illustrators onto the stage to sing with him. I also had the pleasure of catching his kids’ session. Wow! The way he interacts with children is so wonderful. They were enthralled. I only managed to sit in on one other session – a presentation/workshop conducted by illustrator Frane Lessac… such a joy to watch her in action.

The official bookshop for the festival was A LOT OF BOOKS. And boy-oh-boy, did they have a lot of books. These guys were amazing, setting up book stalls in multiple locations for the festival and stocking massive numbers of books for each speaker. Check out their website.

Official stuff aside, I managed to catch up with other presenters at dinner and between sessions, getting the opportunity for a bit of industry chat and maybe a little gossip (no, I’m not telling). And I had the joy of being introduced to authors/illustrators/books I hadn’t previously encountered. BIG shout out here for OLIVER’S GRUMBLES, written by Yvonne Mes and illustrated by Giuseppe Poli. Such a gorgeous picture book!

All up this was a pretty FAB experience! HUGE thanks to Jenny Stubbs and her tireless team of volunteers.

Posted in Appearances | 2 Comments