Another RFDS publication day

Books 3 and 4 in my RFDS series hit the shelves today – Medical Mission and Fast Flight. I’m celebrating, as always, with cake (it’s my little Publication Day tradition). A LOT OF CAKE! I have a Russian background (you’d never guess with a name like Ivanoff), and this past weekend was Russian Easter… so I’ve got lots of my mum’s Easter cakes to get through. :-)

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a REAL honour

‘Twas a big day today. I had fungus extracted from my ear and an award nomination announced. Exciting times!

As I was sitting in a specialist’s office, getting a fungal infection vacuumed out of my ear (whilst watching the entire disgusting affair via ear-cam on a large flat screen TV), the REAL shortlist was being announced. It is the second of these two events that I’m excited about. I actually could have done without the fungus.

REAL stands for Reading & Enjoying Australian Literature. This shortlist is nominated by kids across Australia. Then the shortlist is used for three state-based awards — The YABBAs (Young Australians Best Book Awards) in Victoria; the KOALAs (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) in NSW; and the KROCs (Kids Reading Oz Choice) in the Northern Territory.

Last year, You Choose: The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove made the REAL shortlist and then won a YABBA. So it is super exciting to be back for a second year in a row, with You Choose: Alien Invaders From Beyond the Stars making this year’s shortlist in the category of Fiction for Younger Readers.

[insert lots of shouting and high-fiving and happy dancing]

To the kids of Australia, I say: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I am excited and flattered and honoured to be among the amazing books on this year’s shortlist. The other books in the Fiction for Younger Readers category are:

  • Alice-Miranda at Camp, Jacqueline Harvey
  • Billie B Brown: The Second Best Friend, Sally Rippin & Aki Fukuoka
  • Diary of a Track and Field Titan, Shamini Flint & Sally Heinrich
  • Don’t Look Now: Book 4, Paul Jennings & Andrew Weldon
  • EJ Spy School: Puppy Alert!, Susannah McFarlane & Dyani Stagg
  • Ella and Olivia: Sports Carnival, Yvette Poshoglian & Danielle McDonald
  • Ghost Club 2: The Haunted School, Deborah Abela
  • The Bad Guys Episode 1, Aaron Blabey
  • The Vanilla Slice Kid, Adam Wallace & Jack Wodhams & Tom Gittus

Check out the full list for each category and go read some books.

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Cover reveal for YOU CHOOSE 9 & 10

James Hart has done it again. Get a load of these wonderful covers. That’s ten YOU CHOOSE covers that he’s now illustrated… and he still manages to bring something fresh and exciting to each and every new one. Thanks James… you’re ACE!

Everyone should go and check out James Hart’s website.

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Launching and touring and jumping on hotel beds

I’m gonna be on TV! Channel 9! The Today Show on the morning of Tuesday 8 March (that’s tomorrow). Let me tell you why…

Last week I had an amazing time touring around Adelaide to promote the release of my Royal Flying Doctor Service series of kids’ adventure books. I visited schools and bookstores, signed more books than I have ever done before, and did a few interviews. But without a doubt, the highlight was a trip to the South Australian outback town of Leigh Creek for the book launch. With the first book set in the nearby ghost town of Farina, with a frantic ride to the Leigh Creek Airport to meet the RFDS, this was the perfect location for the launch. It all began with my own really cool adventure — a flight in a little twin-engine Cessna.

It was a great privilege to have the books launched at the Leigh Creek Area School by the Honourable Susan Close, South Australia’s Education and Child Development Minister. Prior to the launch, she took the time to speak to classes and even read out loud from the first book in the series, Remote Rescue. And then she launched the books with a wonderfully engaging speech in front of the whole school. She was charming, intelligent, enthusiastic and a delight to chat with before and after the official event.


I got to say a few words about the writing of the books, and then handed over to RFDS representative Charlie Paterson. He had the kids enthralled as he spoke about the real-life work of the Flying Doctors, even showing a real-time map of Australia, pinpointing every RFDS plane currently in the air. Way cool!

Then there was LOTS of book signing, question answering and posing for photos.

The whole shebang was covered by Channel Nine’s Today Show. It will screen on Tuesday morning’s programme as part of an article about Leigh Creek and SA tourism. Very exciting!

Here are a couple of the promo photos Charlie Paterson took…


It was a busy launch and a jam-packed tour. But I did get some time to relax. So what does a kids’ author do for fun in Adelaide? Well… I met some life-sized cardboard cutouts…

And in my hotel room there was a card on the bed. It said…

JUMP ON THE BED
WE KNOW YOU WANT TO

It was right! I did want to…

Addendum — 8 March

The story screened on Channel 9′s Today Show at about 6:20am this morning. It was a great article. It can be viewed on the Today Show website. Check out the last photo below for the sort of expression best avoided on national television.


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Scribing through time and space

On Monday 29 February 2016, the second season of NIGHT TERRACE was launched. What is NIGHT TERRACE? I hear you ask. Well, let me answer you. It’s simply the best comedy sci-fi audio series since THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. And it’s an Aussie production. And it stars Jackie Woodburne from Neighbours. And it won the 2015 Aurealis Convenors’ Award for Excellence. And it’s had heaps of famous guest stars, including Jane Badler (V), Louise Jameson (Doctor Who), Alan Brough (Spicks and Specks) and Lawrence Leung (Sucker). And I guest star in an episode too (but don’t hold that against the show).

Here’s the official synopsis of the series…

Anastasia Black just wanted a quiet retirement, so she wasn’t exactly thrilled when her house spontaneously started to travel in time and space. Or that she’s stuck with Eddie Jones, who happened to be on her doorstep at the time. Together they’ll face alien invasions, hideous monsters, time paradoxes, implausible spaceships and even a new housemate. But will the house ever take them home?

I’ve been a fan of this series ever since the first season hit the Internet in 2014. As a fan, I was thrilled when the producers asked me to voice a character in the second season ep “A Verb of Nouns”. I portray a mysterious manipulating scribe named… Scribe (quite appropriate, since I’m a writer in real life).

When I asked how I should play the part, writer/director John Richards (co-creator of the ABC series OUTLAND), suggested Catweazle. So I dug deep down into my childhood memories to retrieve Geoffrey Bayldon’s performance from this fabulous 1970s tv show. I only had to read one sentence from the script for John to then advise me to ‘tone it down a bit’. (What? Me? OTT? Surely not!) We got there in the end — a performance I’m rather proud of. And it was heaps of fun!

I’ve listened to the whole of second season already and I think it’s pretty damn BRILLIANT! Role on season three!

Now… you should all go and listen to it.

Check out the official NIGHT TERRACE website for more info and some trailers.

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RFDS book launch with SA Education Minister

I am VERY EXCITED to announce that the Royal Flying Doctor Service adventures will be officially launched by the Honourable Susan Close, South Australia’s Education and Child Development Minister. The launch will take place on Tuesday 1 March at the Leigh Creek Area School. After the minister’s launch speech, I’ll be talking about the inspiration behind the books and a representative of the RFDS will talk about the amazing work they do.

The town of Leigh Creek and the nearby ghost town of Farina, feature in the first of the RFDS adventures, Remote Rescue. So launching the books in that area is not only appropriate, but also so exciting! The launch will be followed by a drive out to Farina for a photo shoot.

My family and I visited Leigh Creek and Farina as part of our outback holiday (which doubled as a research trip) last year. Farina is a spectacular, surreal, visually stunning place, with its ruined buildings and sun-baked landscape. And Leigh Creek is the gateway to SA tourism — the place we stopped for supplies before heading out into the remote, beautifully harsh heart of Australia. These locations were a perfect setting for Remote Rescue and a glorious start to our holiday. Pictured below is my wife and I in Farina…

Dr Close has read Remote Rescue and had this to say:

‘It’s refreshing to read a book that brings the Flinders Ranges to Marree area to life. It’s an exciting book for kids that also tells an important story about how the RFDS keeps people safe across the outback.’

I am thrilled that these books are getting the support of not only the RFDS, but the South Australian government. If there is one thing I will take away from the writing of these books, it’s the importance of the services provided by the Flying Doctors. The RFDS deserves recognition and support. And I hope that these adventure stories will help spread the word and introduce the Flying Doctors to kids across Australia.

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RFDS cover reveal

The first two books in the RFDS ADVENTURES were released last week. Although the next two books won’t be released until May, I can reveal the covers. With thanks to artist Maria Penna, here they are…

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RFDS Publication Day

The first two books in the RFDS ADVENTURES take flight today. Remote Rescue, set in the South Australian ghost town of Farina, and Emergency Echo, set in the remote West Australian town of Mount Magnet, hit bookshop shelves across the country. Continuing my tradition of celebrating each Publication Day with cake, I’ve got some of my Mum’s hazelnut cake. Thanks Mum! :-)

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Merry Christmas

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FLIP ME Publication Day

01/12/15

New editions…

Just in time for Christmas shopping…

Two books in one…

Released into the wild…

Happy Publication Day to the FLIP ME YOU CHOOSE books.

 

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Thank you Sydney

Do authors ever reach the point of being blasé about their careers?

Oh yes, I’ve just had another book published and I’m off on tour again. It’s all so very tiring and inconvenient.

Will I ever get to that point? I certainly hope not. I still get so excited every time a new book is released (I hold it and stare at it and marvel that it has my name on the cover) and I’m thrilled about going on tour.

Last week I spent three days on a book tour in Sydney and surrounding areas, promoting my YOU CHOOSE series. I visited six schools and some bookstores. It was HEAPS of fun. I got to meet so many enthusiastic, creative kids and their wonderful teachers. Two of the schools were in the Blue Mountains, so I also had the opportunity to stop off for lunch with the amazing Evie from Megalong Books at the lookout from which one can gaze at the Three Sisters.



And to top off the tour experience, I got this wonderful FaceBook review from Kel Butler, who came along to one of my school talks with her son…

Just saw George Ivanoff speak and was he ever entertaining! I just sat back and watched as he thoroughly engaged a room full of kids with the magic of storytelling. He practically performed a book he created WITH the kids and of course they ate it up. I’m pretty sure every single child in that room left a big fan if they weren’t one already. I really am so impressed with kids’ authors in this country. We are blessed with some of the best.

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2015 YABBA

Ingredients: 34 authors and illustrators; 300+ students; 40 shortlisted children’s books; 4 awards; and, most importantly, cake. It’s a recipe for heaps of FUN!

On Tuesday 27 October 2015, a whole bunch of authors and illustrators went along to a celebration of Aussie books that was attended by over 300 students. The location was Sacré Cœur in Glen Iris, the event was the 2015 YABBA Ceremony. BTW… YABBA stands for Young Australians Best Book Awards (just in case you were wondering).

This year’s awards ceremony was pretty special as it marked YABBA’s 30th Birthday. Of course, there was cake… a really BIG cake. Yum! And a glorious light-up sign — perfect for pic posing!

For me, the whole thing was particularly special as it was the first time one of my books had made it onto the shortlist. You Choose: The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove was in the “Fiction for Younger Readers” category. And guess what? I won!

Wow! I won a YABBA! I’m still in shock… but it’s an excited and honoured shock. What makes this set of annual awards so special is that the books are nominated by kids. And then voted on by kids. These are the books that they actually love reading. And that’s pretty awesome!

A BIG heartfelt thank you to all the kids who have read my books, who nominated The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and who voted for it. You have made my year!

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the other winners — Aaron Blabey for Pig the Pug; Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton for The 52-Storey Treehouse; and Tristan Bancks for Two Wolves — and to all those who were nominated. It was one hell of a shortlist.

This event was also special for me because I got the chance to publically thank three authors who have had an impact on my career. During a Q&A session, I was asked if I had any writing mentors or authors who inspired me. Yes, indeed! Carol Wilkinson is a long-time friend and extraordinary writer, and each time I read one of her books I am inspired. Paul Collins has published me, encouraged me, given me advice and inspired me with the sheer volume of his writing. (I joked about how I wanted to be Paul Collins when I grew up.) Hazel Edwards is one of the most generous authors I have ever met — generous with her time, her advice and her encouragement. It was particularly wonderful to have those three authors present. :-)

Finally, to finish off this rather thank you filled post… thank you to the YABBA organisers for running the awards each year and for promoting Australian books and authors. You people do amazing work!

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Flying Doctor books

Since March I’ve been sitting on some news. I’ve been desperate to shout it from the rooftops, but I’ve had to wait until my publisher was ready to announce it. Well, that time has arrived. I can finally reveal the project I’ve been working on is a new series of kids books about the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). These books are fiction — adventure stories set in remote parts of Australia — but feature the activities of Australia’s real-life RFDS. The first two books will be published by Random House Australia in February 2016, with a further two later in the year.

The first book, Remote Rescue, is all finished. The second book, Emergency Echo, is currently going through the editing process. And I’m busily working away on book three.

The lovely cover illustrations are by Maria Pena, an artist who’s done a lot of storyboard illustrating. Check out her website to see more of her work.

The RFDS books have been quite a change for me from the You Choose series. Single story adventures, they are much more based in reality. So there’s been a lot of research regarding locations, the activities of the RFDS and medical procedures.

These books are also different in that they are not entirely my own creation. With the You Choose books, and the Gamers trilogy before that, I came up with the idea and pitched it to the publisher. With the RFDS books, Random House initiated the series in a deal with the RFDS, then I was asked if I’d be interested in writing them. Interested? Of course I was!

It’s funny how things work out. I was first contacted about these RFDS books about a week and half before my family and I were due to set off on our Outback Adventure, driving all the way from Melbourne to Uluru and back. The timing could not have been more perfect. Our holiday was able to double as a research trip for me. I investigated potential locations and took LOTS of reference photos. I’ve ended up setting the first book in the South Australian ghost town of Farina, and the third book in Coober Pedy. [Incidentally, book two is set in Mount Magnet, a West Australian town I visited a couple of years ago on another trip.]

The Outback Adventure also gave me the chance to stop off at the RFDS base in Port Augusta. Operations manager Phil Moran was kind enough to give me and my family a tour of the facility and answer my barrage of questions, even though it was early on a Sunday morning. I even got to climb aboard an RFDS plane. That visit was the perfect start to this writing adventure.

This project has also been a good excuse for me to buy and watch the old Flying Doctors mini-series made back in the 1980s by Crawford Productions — a series that, despite a certain 1980s quaintness, holds up rather well as a quality piece of Australian drama.

I’m past the halfway point of this project, and I have been enjoying it immensely. I can’t wait for the books to actually hit the shelves!

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