Ep 84 The rise of freelance writers, should you try a co-working space? How to trim your manuscript to a workable word count, “Story” by Robert McKee, writing advice from AWC presenters, how to write an author bio, a new writing app and meet children’s author Tristan Bancks.

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podcast-artwork In Episode 84 of So you want to be a writer: The rise of freelance writers, is a co-working space better than working from home? How to trim your manuscript to a workable size, the book Story by Robert McKee, writing advice from AWC presenters, Writer in Residence children’s author Tristan Bancks, a new writing app to inspire flow, further advice on writing your author bio, download Allison’s top ten tips, and more!

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes

Australia’s freelance economy grows to 4.1 million workers, study finds

Is a Coworking Space Better for Freelancers Than Working from Home?

Losing the Word Weight — How to Put Your Manuscript on a Diet

Story by Robert McKee

10 nuggets of writing advice from 10 AWC presenters

Writer in Residence 

Tristan Bancks

Tristan BancksTristan Bancks is a children’s and teen author with a background in acting and filmmaking. His books include the My Life series, Mac Slater Coolhunter and Two Wolves, a crime-mystery novel for middle-graders. Two Wolves was shortlisted for the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award and will be released in the US as On the Run in November 2015.

His short films as writer and director have won a number of awards and have screened widely in festivals and on TV. His most recent book is My Life & Other Stuff Massive Mistakes, a third book of weird-funny-gross, semi-autobiographical short stories. Tristan is excited by the future of storytelling and inspiring others to create.

Find Tristan on Twitter

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Working Writer’s Tip

What to include in your author bio when you’re unpublished and don’t have any awards?

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Entries close 9th November 2015.

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Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

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Interview Transcript 

Allison

Tristan Bancks is a children’s and teen author with a background in acting and
film-making. His books include the My Life series, Mac Slater, Cool Hunter, which was published in Australia and the US, and Two Wolves, a crime mystery novel for middle graders. Two Wolves was short-listed for the 2015 Children’s Book Counsel of Australia Book of the Year Award, and has just won the YABBA Award for years 7-9, decided by the Young Readers of Victoria.

 

So, welcome to the program, Tristan.

 

Tristan

All right, thanks.

 

Allison

All right. So, let’s… let’s go back to the beginning, all of those years ago. How did you come to write for children and teens in the first place? Like, what drew you to it?

 

Tristan

I had presented kid’s TV in England for about four years, from when I was about 20, and just sort of fell into that. I think I actually pitched a program to ytv and we got a few episodes of this show up and I hosted it, and then that opened up the opportunity to present other kid’s TV shows. So, I did a kind of show that was a bit like the curiosity show called It’s a Mystery, which was fun.

 

Allison

Oh, that’s fun.

 

Tristan

And I did sort of adrenaline sport shows and movie shows and lots of things that I was interested in I would pitch and then I would end up sort of writing, researching, presenting — yeah. And then so I think I’ve always sort of enjoyed theme parks and I’ve always enjoyed the kind of things that kids like, I suppose. I don’t think I ever grew out of those things.

 

And I also… I’ve always wanted to do what I want to do. I never wanted to kind of conform and just do the thing I was supposed to do. And I think that’s a kind of childlike attribute in a way.

 

Allison

All right.

 

Tristan

When my kids were born I had been making short films and I had been working in TV and I had been working as a freelance journalist. And I thought, “Well, it would be good to combine my storytelling interests with the fact that I have children now.” And I had a chance to write some educational fiction books for Scholastic, I think it was.

 

Allison

Right, and you worked into it that way?

 

 

Tristan

Yeah. So, they were my first children’s books.

 

Allison

All right, so I mean you’ve sort of been immersed in all aspects of… you know, you were talking about writing, presenting. You’ve sort of immersed yourself in that children’s world, quite wholly and solely for a while, haven’t you?

 

Tristan

Yeah, and I think for a while there I was looking for a unifying element, you know? I’d presented TV and I had acted, and I had made short films and I seem to be writing kid’s books, and I had written, you know, that film-making for magazines. And I was thinking, “Am I just wandering from one thing to the other and not really knowing what I want to do?” But, I mean storytelling was always the thing. I always wanted to tell stories, whether it was sort of non-fiction or fiction, particularly fiction. But, storytelling has always been the heart of all of those things I’ve done.

 

Allison

OK, so your earlier works, and particularly I guess the My Life series, the kind of funny contemporary stories with a bit of that gross out humor that kids love so much, but Two Wolves is actually quite a departure from that. Why did you decide to write that story?

 

Tristan

I think… I think I just wanted to challenge myself to write it. I didn’t sort of talk to anyone about that book for quite a while. I spent, like, several years having that as sort of my story in the background that I worked on for maybe an hour a day. I used to wake up at about six o’clock in the morning and work until 7:00, before anyone was up. And it was just my side project. I couldn’t afford to make it my front project, because I had other things that had deadlines, other books that had deadlines.

 

But, it was just something that I was just interested. And I thought, “Do I have the writing chops to be able to do this?” And I didn’t know if I did, so I thought it was best not to talk to anyone about it, or to try and sort of get my publisher involved too early, because I didn’t want them to say, “Yes, we’d love it. Deliver it in nine months.” And then I’d think, “Argh… I don’t actually know how to write it.”

 

Looking back that was actually the healthiest thing I ever did. I think having a deadline is good because you have to finish at some point, but it also means that you have to abandon the story at some point. And, that’s not great, as a writer you want it to be as good as it can possibly be.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

So, where did the idea for it come from in the first place?

 

Tristan

I had read about kids who had been taken on the run by their parents who were criminals, quite a few stories about it, and it just intrigued me. I just thought, “What is it?” For some reason I sort of felt like it was my story. I didn’t think that I had been taken on the run as a kid, but there was something about the sort of self-reliance of it, you know? I was an 80s kid, and… and, you know, latch-key kid as… as a lot of us were. And, you sort of had a lot of freedom that I don’t see in my kid’s generation, you know? We as parents are always hanging around and annoying them, and making their lives miserable by making them — by being there all the time.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

Tristan

But, as a kid in that era I had all of this space and time to think and be, and there was something about the kind of not knowingness of that situation. The fact that you had to come to your own decisions and make your own choices and be a bit self-reliant that I sort of related to in these kids who had been taken on the run.

 

Allison

All right, so what was the most difficult thing about writing the story for you? Like, you said that you weren’t quite sure if you had the writing chops for it. Was it the exploration of that, that was the most difficult thing? Or something else?

 

Tristan

I think I had always aspired towards writing books that were kind of at the intersection of genre and meaning in that I wanted to write books that were fast-paced and engaging, that made you turn pages. But, I also wanted to try to write books that were about something, you know? That were… that wrestled with… with ideas, I guess, that are relevant to kids of the sort of age of my readership.

 

I tried to do that with my book, Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space. You know, their age dealing with their own issues. But, I guess I was still too scared to slow down the narrative. With Mac Slater Cool Hunter and the sequel to that, and the My Life books, and Galactic Adventures, I was still scared to be boring, you know? I thought, “I’ve got to go accelerate all the way through this. I’ve got to make this page turning, the twists have to be so big that it just drives you onto the next thing.” But, the problem with that is that it’s difficult then and you don’t trust yourself to take the time to really maybe develop the characters and the sort of internal conflict of the character.

 

And on Two Wolves I thought, “Well, there’s not a publisher waiting for, it doesn’t have to be the most exciting thing in the world, I’m just going to take my time a bit with it,” and actually out of that I sort of maybe found a richer narrative.

 

Allison

Did it surprise you when it ended up on so many awards list, like given that it was something that you weren’t sure about? But, then were sure about.

 

Tristan

Yeah, I mean… as an actor and in making short films and things that I had done for TV, I had always been in the situation where I was writing, where I would do one thing that was… that was obviously commercial, and then one thing that wasn’t that commercial, and it was always the thing that was more commercial that you, you know, that was easier to kind of turn out that… that, um, that got attention. Whereas the thing that you had bled for, often would… would come second place kind of thing, and people would ignore it or go, “Oh, yeah… yeah, no that’s good, but look at this other thing.”

 

So, I was pretty convinced that actually that would happen. I was writing the My Life books at the same time and Two Wolves in the background. And I thought, “Well, the My Life books are much more obviously commercial, and Two Wolves may… I thought I had picked that spot right between it not being meaningful enough for people who are looking for that, to be interested in, and also not being perhaps fast-paced enough for people who are only looking for an action adventure story.

 

But, yeah, the fact that it sort of was noticed in the YABBA and the CDCA Awards makes me think that I went some way towards that goal.

 

Allison

It’s an interesting thing too, because I think that there’s very much, I think in children’s publishing at the moment the series is very big, and kids love series, because they love to know that there’s another one, if they like it, et cetera.

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

Allison

So when you’re writing a stand-alone novel do you have that in the back of your mind as well, like, “Well, this has got to work really, really well, or not at all,” so to speak?

 

Tristan

I think I was playing around with it being a series at one point, and thinking of it being three books. But, I think the further I went into it… usually I might write five drafts of a book before I show it to another human, you know, show it to a publisher or something. And on this one I sort of got to five drafts and I could have shown it, but I thought, “Oh, I sort of really want to know it more myself before I invite anyone else in.” And so I went to seven drafts before I showed it to someone else. And I think out of that, I think in that period of time, writing those two extra drafts, I think that’s when it became a stand-alone novel.

 

Allison

Right.

 

Tristan

I really… I didn’t… I sort of got more faith, I guess, in that thing of finding the meaning in the story and letting it stand alone and not sort of… not being too worried if it didn’t sort of drive someone onto the next book. I wanted it to be recognized as a story in and of itself.

 

Allison

Did it change much from that seventh draft? Like from that to its published form?

 

Tristan

Not in terms of ripping out chapters and things. I had already sort of pulled out… I have a holding bay file and I think I had something like 40,000 words in the holding bay, and it’s a 50,000-word novel. And then there must of have been hundreds of thousands of words that were written in notepads that never made it in too.

 

Allison

Wow.

 

Tristan

I think I had already pulled out so much that it was reasonably tight. What really helped, Kimberly Bennett, my editor at Random House, she really drove me just to tighten and hone in all of those little leaps in logic. There’s a lot in the story, as you know when you write a novel it’s not just the over-arching idea of the story, on every page and on every line there’s some little idea driving it forward. And so there were thousands of those things. And she really helped me to tighten the language and also I think straightening out the age of it too, the age of the character and making that more consistent across the book.

 

And I think just all of those… all of those little leaps in logic that you, after you’ve read it 150 times yourself you don’t see those things anymore.

 

Allison

Yeah, so true.

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

Allison

So will you do more stand-alone novels do you think, or are you heading back into your series next? Or what happens?

 

Tristan

We seem to have a sort of thing where a My Life book comes out every year. And they’re fun, they’re short stories, it’s 25,000 words. I can write short story in cracks in time. I can jump on a plane and I can work through a draft of a short story while I’m on the plane, or I can do it if I’m visiting a school, I can work over a short story in the gaps in time during that day. I just love writing short stories, because they — I don’t know. They’re not that sort of over-arching, they’re not that huge arc. And I know the characters now as well. So, it feels like a really comfortable place.

 

Allison

Great.

 

Tristan

So there’s a new My Life book out in March 2016, and it’s called My Life and Other Exploding Chickens.

 

Allison

That sounds like fun.

 

Tristan

Yeah, it’s really been… and I keep saying to myself, “OK, don’t write another My Life book unless you really feel like you are getting something out of it, make yourself a new challenge, dig deeper.” And I’m really sort of trying to understand comedy and comedy writing in greater detail, to really understand the anatomy of a joke, and how to make that work. And, that drives me to want to write the next book as well.

 

Yeah, I feel like I learn a lot about plot and a lot about brevity. In a short story you have to be so succinct and every word has to earn its place. And I feel like that kind of succinctness can work well in a novel too.

 

Allison

Do you actually plot out your stories? Like, whether they be novels or short stories, do you plot them before you write them, or do you just sort of start writing something from an idea and see what happens?

 

Tristan

I’ve came from screenwriting sort of background, that’s how I kind of learnt to write fiction, I suppose, in writing screenplays. And, so that’s very much an outline-heavy, you know, you’re always taught to outline and to step outline and to get it really tight before you dive in, I guess because the screenplay itself is not a very pretty medium, you know? It’s a kind of blueprint for something else.

 

The first few books that I did, just to know that I could get through them I plotted them heavily, you know? I had the cards up on the wall, and I would rework the cards, and I would throw out this one and I would wait until I really knew, as well as doing free writes on the side and I would really get that outline tight and then I would plunge into the first draft.

 

And I think it was also a way of not ending up with a really messy first draft. I really didn’t like that thing that, you know, if you just free wrote you read back the first draft and it was like, “Oh, this thing is such bad shape, I’m going to have to do so much work on it.” Whereas if you had an outline, you know, your first draft wasn’t that terrible. You could feel the story, you know?

 

But…

 

Allison

But…

 

Tristan

… what I discovered on Two Wolves was actually for me it makes for a much better story if you’re prepared to go down deep into that the dark woods of that messy first draft and just let it be what it is, and then plunge into a really messy second draft and you’re kind of feeling out the geography of the story and the characters and you’re going to all of these dead ends and scenes and chapters that will be cut, but out of that I think you really get a sense of what’s underground in the story and where the characters have been and what might have happened and all of those things.

 

So, I really sort of try to do that now. I try not to be too plotty from the beginning. And then maybe on a third draft or something like that I’ll go and do an outline, just to sort of tighten things up, but by then I feel like you’ve really kind of discovered so much.

 

Allison

Interesting, so you kind of go from one to the other, because a lot of people will start out being a person who just starts with an idea and keeps going, and they find themselves down so many dead ends that they start… they actually probably come back the other way more and they will outline more.

 

Whereas you’ve actually gone from… you’ve actually done that in reverse, which I find really interesting.

 

 

Tristan

Yeah. I think… I think it’s more daring to not outline from the beginning. And I think I wasn’t very daring, and I think I’m perhaps becoming more daring, because I’m not scared that I’m not going to finish the book now. I know I can finish a book. But, now it’s about me making the story rich enough, that’s the thing that’s really hard for me.

 

Allison

That’s interesting.

 

Tristan

It’s not about making it exciting, but it’s making it, you know, something that you really can get your teeth into.

 

Allison

How much time do you spend each day writing? Because I know that you have a fairly busy life in many areas. I mean do you have a routine that you try to follow?

 

Tristan

Yeah, I try to speak, you know, maybe keep it to like four months of the year or something. And I speak in March and in May and sort of, you know, July, August and the beginning of September are pretty busy. But, I try to sort of contain it these days so that there are months in between where I write. Because I find that if I speak and tour and speak and tour for a long period at once I start to get nervous and anxious that I’m not writing.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Tristan

And I find that if at least in that period of the year, if it’s on a month off, that it allows me to really feel like I’m getting some writing done and then I really enjoy the speaking. And then from about September through to February I get about six months where I can really get down into the bigger book that I’m working on, and… yeah. That’s really good. And I try to write from 8:00-12:00 each day on the main project that I’m working on.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

Tristan

And I used to do 2,000 words a day, and now I find on Two Wolves and on the next book that I’m working on, it’s another sort of crime mystery, I find it ends up more like 1,000 words in a day.

 

Allison

 

Tristan

And that’s just more comfortable. I just find they’re better words when I do the 1,000, so I’ve had to sort of, you know, not be too hard myself.

 

Allison

Fair enough.

 

I remember Valerie talking about an interview she did with you where, I think this was a couple of years ago, because I think your children were quite young, she said where you used to go for a walk each morning and actually write on your phone as you walked. Are you still doing that?

 

Tristan

Yeah, I do still do that.

 

I was doing it yesterday, actually, on the beach and you tend to… the reason I do it is that I’ll sit down in the morning and I’ll write and then, you know, after an hour and a half or so you get twitchy and you get… you need to move. And, um, and so I’ll go out with a chapter, maybe a new chapter, it’s more difficult to edit on the phone as you walk.

 

Allison

Yes.

 

Tristan

But, in terms of new stuff I’ll sort of go, “OK, I’ve got this problem with this particular scene,” or chapter and I’ll go out and I’ll write and I’ll work through that problem. I find the fresh air and the sound of the ocean and the forward motion sort of makes you… gets your mind off of it a little bit, which then allows a solution to come. Or I’ll find a fresh chapter that I haven’t started on yet and I’ll dive into that and find the first draft as I walk.

 

It does end up… those scenes and chapters often do end up being some of the better stuff that I write, strangely.

 

Allison

Do you worry about falling over as you type as you walk?

 

Tristan

I do. I usually walk on, you know, reasonably deserted beaches.

 

Allison

I can just see you walking into the back of someone, “Oh, sorry.”

 

Tristan

Yeah… yeah. No, because you do, you get totally focused and you sort of look up and you think, “Oh my god, where am I?” Yeah, they’re usually pretty… it’s not like Bondi on Christmas Day kind of thing.

 

Allison

No, no. And at least there’s no traffic for you to avoid.

 

Tristan

Yes.

 

Allison

Are you a person, I think you mentioned before you have notebooks, you write in notebooks, so do you have notebooks of ideas and you just sort of move onto the next one when you’ve finished a book? Or do you — like, what’s your inspiration process? Are you… I know we’ve spoken to some authors who don’t have any idea of what they’re going to write next until they’re sort of writing the last chapter of their current project, and then we have other authors who’ve just got like a stack of notebooks and they just pull out the next one when they’re ready to do something. Are you somewhere in between that, or…?

 

Tristan

I am always writing in notebooks. I don’t get back to reread the notebooks as often as I would like these days. So, it’s a process and you get things down and sometimes… and in theory I go back and reread them and then highlight the best stuff. And just by letting that compost and rereading the notebooks from time to time one of the ideas is you’ve got brewing back there kind of bubbles to the surface and becomes the next book.

 

So, look, I do… I always do… I don’t think I’d be very good, I think I’d be too nervous as I neared the end of the book not knowing what was going to come at all.

 

I do have a couple of books that are always kind of jockeying for position to be the next book. And there are often things I’ve had in the back of my mind or wrote… wrote a draft on three years ago and then put it away. Or have been just noodling away with for a couple of years. That’s when I find the… that’s how I find the projects ripen.

 

Allison

And have you ever… are they all for children? Have you ever written a draft of a novel for adults or anything? Is that something that you would ever do, do you think?

 

Tristan

I don’t really think about it, actually. I don’t… I find it satisfying enough writing stuff for kids, especially writing the My Life for younger kids and they’re more… I’m more freestyling mode and humor and they’re just plain fun. And I find that satisfies a certain part of my personality. And then I find having a bigger sort of more layered novel happening in the background of that satisfies the other part of me.

 

And I find in those layered novels you can really get into some big ideas, you know?

 

And I think perhaps writing for children makes you be more clear and makes you… yeah, just write in a more succinct way. Yeah, I don’t really think much about writing for adults. I mean that’s just an instinctive thing. But, aside from that I think you develop an audience for your books and it takes a long time to develop an audience for your books, years. And, I think unless you just happen to write an Eye of the Sheep or something that sort of just knocked everyone out of the ballpark that, you know?

 

Allison

Yep.

 

Tristan

Then I think it’s really difficult to then develop a whole other audience, you know? It takes a long time for people to find your story. So… I guess I’m… and I think having kids at this time too, I love writing stories that I can then, you know, try out on them. And, that appeal to them.

 

 

 

Allison

Speaking of, you know, finding your audience and things like that, you do a lot of school visits, well, just you seem to, I’m just watching your progress from afar.

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

Allison

But, do you find that to be… is that an effective… the most effective way you think to reach your audience at this stage?

 

Tristan

Yeah. At first I didn’t think that I would necessarily enjoy doing school visits. I thought, “Well, I’ve got all of this writing to do and I want to be left alone to write,” and then that will eat into my time and all of that sort of stuff. But, actually once I started doing school visits I realized that well, a.) once you’ve worked out a few things that you could talk about… it’s difficult at first because you don’t know what to say, but then you work out a few things that you like to talk about and it forces you to bring the stories to life in different ways. And I think that’s pretty important.

 

I think it is a good way to reach your readers and I think it has a really great effect in terms of inspiring kids to read and to write their own stories. But, I sort of really like that aspect of it that you are forced to think about your stories in different ways.

 

And often, you know, like the book that I’ve been working on, that I’m working on at the moment, it’s maybe at a fourth draft, I wrote a first draft of it maybe three or three and a half years ago, and about a year ago I was really lost and I was thinking, “I don’t know if this thing’s working.” I thought, “I’ll read the first chapter of it…” the first draft… I spent three weeks at the school reading. I thought, “I’ll read the first chapter of it to this group,” and for some crazy reason I happened to choose a year nine group on a Friday afternoon, last period.

 

Allison

Oh, Tristan, what were you thinking?

 

Tristan

I don’t know. I’m insane. And you know that is the worst possible group, you know, and they’re going to riot and they’re going to throw stuff at you.

 

Allison

Oh, yep.

 

Tristan

But, actually, amazingly they sort of leaned in and really kind of engaged with the story and then asked, “What happens next?” And I was like, “OK… that’s really good.” I suddenly had faith in this story that I was really worried about. And I think that kind of thing, in those really difficult writing periods can drive you forward. The fact that it is, you know, that the story does engage people in some way makes you think, “OK… yeah, I know why I’m writing this.”

 

Allison

Apart from not speaking to year nine on a Friday afternoon, which I have to tell you the idea of that just makes me feel quite ill. Have you got any tips for new or aspiring children’s authors on creating a successful school visit? Like, what have you found works well for you? Like, just give me a couple of ideas.

 

Tristan

I think don’t talk down to the kids, you know? Try to be… just be you. Um, don’t try to sort of make it, “Hey kids,” or, you know, just… I think genuinely the way to not be nervous about it too is just to tell your stories, tell the stuff that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about, as opposed to thinking too much about, “What will I say that they will like?” So, I think if you… if you genuinely love the stories that you’re working on and if they started out in some interesting way, or you gathered together interesting images while you were working on it, or there was some particular, you know, two minute news story that you saw on YouTube while you were researching or there was music you listened to while you were writing that had some impact on the story, you know, pulling all of that stuff together, the thing that inspired you and then sharing that with other people, whether they be kids or adults, because I find if you find something good it works on either audience.

 

I think that’s the way, you know? Just share your genuine excitement about a particular story and people will respond to that.

 

Allison

What about the idea of building an author platform? Like, you know this is talked about a lot in a lot of different circles, like, do you put much thought into that? As to kind of raising your profile online or any of those sorts of things?

 

Tristan

Yeah, I have done over time thought, you know, I always knew I think from the very beginning back when, you know, eight years ago or something if you googled my name, before I had a website, actually, it would be I don’t know, whatever random things came up, a Wikipedia from acting work that I had done ten years before, or I don’t know… you just didn’t have any control. And, I think that I… my agent sort of came from the background of being a web mistress and she sort of pointed me towards the idea that, you know, you can have a strong say in what comes up in those top ten Google rankings. And she sort of suggested how important that was. And, I thought, “OK, well, if I set up a website…” and she was like, “Yeah, and set up Facebook and set up this…” and I was like, “Oh, do I have to?” And she said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah… do it… do it.” And I was like, “OK…”

 

And so I sort of set up everything. I had a Myspace about eight years ago and I… and I set up a site and I, um, and then sort of 2009 I think Zoe Wallton, my publisher at Random House, she said, “You know what? Twitter would be really good for you.” And I was like, “No… don’t make me.” And I set up Twitter and then, you know, and that’s something that I’ve really enjoyed. I like the brevity of it, and I like the sharing of ideas and information. And, the fact that it’s not… you don’t have to divulge too much of your own personal stuff.

 

Yeah, so I think I’ve just had a go at everything. I’ve got YouTube and I put my book trailers up on there. I’ve got a blog, which is a kind of core of my website, and I think I like the fact that it means that front page of my website is constantly turning over. If you go there every week or a couple of times a week, sometimes three times a week there’s going to be something new there, or a review of a book, or some news, or something interesting in the world of kid’s books.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

Tristan

So, I think it’s been partly… partly sort of me wanting to experiment, partly sort of being pushed to try things and not wanting to, but actually enjoying it afterwards. And I really think it is… it is worth diving into all of these things and sort of seeing how you can do it in a way that feels authentic to you.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Tristan

And if you really don’t like a particular platform then not… then, you know? Don’t do it.

 

Allison
Don’t do it.

 

So, where do you put your time now that you’ve tried everything in the world including Myspace, where do you choose to put your time now? So, Twitter and your blog mostly?

 

Tristan

Uh, probably Twitter and I really like Instagram, actually. I put up an image on Instagram. I tried to do it, you know, once a day on weekdays. And, um, yeah… and I really enjoy it in that I like visual things, and it seems like a good way to engage with the readership too.

 

Allison

I was going to say, do you find you get your readers there on Instagram?

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

Allison

Because I think a lot of kids are using that platform.

 

Tristan

Yeah, not so much on Facebook, not on Twitter, probably more so on YouTube and Instagram, kids will leave messages and I tend not to follow back on Instagram, because I sort of think that kids need to be able to have their space and their own privacy and things. And kids will say, “Follow me, follow me… FOLLOW ME.” And, I just sort of say, “Oh, look, I just think that you should have your own space, you don’t need adults who are not in your family looking at your pictures everyday sort of thing.

 

Allison

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Tristan

But, I say, you know, “Feel free to leave comments here on any of my images, and I’ll always, you know, chat back.” And, yeah, that seems to work really well.

 

 

 

 

Allison

Oh, that’s good. That’s a good tip, actually. Because I think that is a difficult thing for adults on Instagram, because if you do have a large child readership you don’t really want too involved in it, do you?

 

Tristan

I think so. There’s something… I think you have to be really careful to sort of draw that line. And, I think that just that thing too of kids sharing whatever they’re doing. I don’t know… for my own kids would want to know which adults were sort of seeing the things that my kids were putting up online. So…

 

Allison

Definitely.

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

No, I think having that conversation, but it not being invasive is really important.

 

Allison

All right. And, our last question for today’s exciting interview is our usual one that we ask, which is we’re looking for three top tips for aspiring authors. What have you got for me?

 

Tristan

Interesting.

 

Allison

And you’re going, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were going do this, Allison?”

 

Tristan

Three top tips for aspiring authors. I would say that old chestnut of… well, certainly writing every day goes without saying. You know, you have to write something every day, whether it’s towards your novel or you’re just doing morning pages. That’s how you become a writer, I think. And that’s how you get faith in your own writing, and that’s how you find your voice as a writer.

 

So, I think getting something down every single day is really important.

 

I think believing in… writing the kind of thing that you like to read, as opposed to sort of being cynical about it and trying to write the thing that you think that other people might want you to write.

 

Allison

Yeah. Yep.

 

Tristan

I think that’s really important. Obviously, you know, if you write, you know, sort of German hymns or something like that, then you want to write for the children’s market, that might be… in Australia that might be a difficult match.

 

 

Allison

Yes.

 

Tristan

But, you know, there’s a friction point between, uh, what could possibly get published and the kind of thing that you love. And, if you don’t love children’s books, then you certainly shouldn’t be writing them. And, if you don’t love reading, then you probably shouldn’t be writing either.

 

But, I think really write that book that you almost dare not write because it seems so scary.

 

And, I think thirdly, I think have fun with it. It’s difficult, you know? Being by yourself a lot is very difficult. Spend… rereading your stuff and even 15 minutes after you’ve written it and you reread it and you think, “What was I thinking? This is the worst thing I’ve ever read.” But, then you do that every single day of your life and that can be difficult and that can make you want to go out and get a real job.

 

But, I think sitting… being able to sit with the fact that most of your writing will stink up to those fifth or sixth or seventh drafts, if you can sit with that, then you can really be a writer.

 

Allison

Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it, Tristan. Congratulations on your recent win and good luck with all of the various things you have going on going forward.

 

Tristan

No problem, good luck with your books too.

 

Allison

Thank you.

 

Tristan

They’re taking over the world.

 

Allison

Oh, the whole word.

 

Tristan

Yeah.

 

Allison

All right, thanks.

 

Tristan

OK, cool. See ya.

 

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