Last time around, Tristan Bancks talked about his transition from actor to children’s and YA author, and one of his new books, Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space. Now he’s back to tell us a little about his other new book, My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up, as well as some of his older books. Welcome back…
My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up is a short story collection. But the stories are linked by the character of Tom Weekly. Can you tell us a little about Tom and how you came up with the character?
Tom is, essentially, me. His experiences in the stories all began with something that happened in my life or that felt close to me. Those things are then heightened and embellished in the stories but they carry the seed of me. I didn’t have to write many ‘character notes’ on Tom because I knew him. I was a little boy, too, and, in some ways, I still am. Gus Gordon, the illustrator, also felt very close to the character so, together, we are the two halves of Tom Weekly’s brain. It’s quite a frightening image, actually.
It was fun. The book was written via email between Byron Bay and L.A. It’s about two high school students, total opposites, forced to email each other for a school English assignment. Tempany would email me from L.A., in character. I would get her email in the morning and email her back in character, and on it went. We discovered the story through these interactions. The first draft was fun. The consecutive drafts were more challenging because every change by one writer would have ramifications for the other author down the line. But I often get positive comments about the book. We’re currently re-working it and re-packaging for a North American ebook release.
I had a deeply disturbing, nit-addled childhood and I needed a place to vent my harrowing experiences. Just kidding. I only had them once or twice but they’re all the rage now. You’re nobody in the playground if you don’t have nits. It was particularly enjoyable to write a non-human hero. I scratched for an entire year while writing those books.
You’ve written both short stories and novels. Do you have a preference?
Short stories are deeply refreshing after writing a longer book. They often arrive in one lump. Not that they are perfect at first draft, quite the opposite. You spend much more time polishing and refining with a short story rather than trying to tie disparate story threads together. But I wouldn’t want to only write short stories. A balance of the two is perfect for me.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment? (Or is it Top Secret?)
Top Secret. I could tell you but I’d have to kill you and I don’t want to do that. You’re a nice guy. OK, I’ll tell you. It’s a story about a kid on the run, forced to become a detective as his life falls apart around him. I think it feels different to my other books and the writing process is vastly different, too.
What sort of stuff do you like reading and what book are you reading at the moment?
I read lots of stuff — children’s and YA fiction, books on Buddhism and creativity, biographies and adult fiction. I am currently reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a book on happiness and the creative process. I’m also reading The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi (Spiderwick Chronicles author), which is fun.
George’s bit at the end
Tristan is about to set off on a literary tour with the Get Reading! programme. For a full list of his events around Australia (as well as other Get Reading! events), check out the Get Reading! website. Also, don’t forget to take a look at Tristan’s website as well — it’s packed full of info, writing tips and videos.
And tune in next time for some Doctor Who.
Catch ya later, George
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