June 8, 2012

Interview with Children's Author Tristan Bancks

When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

Only when I wrote my first book. I was always aspiring to act and make films and somehow those things seemed more tangible and doable to me. I didn't know any authors but I knew lots of actors and film / TV people. But I do have 'books' that I wrote, with hand-drawn covers from when I was 12. I have always written. It's just that books only seemed a possibility for me in the past seven or eight years.

What is your background and how did you get into writing?

I acted in theatre as a teen, then in TV for a few years after school. I spent four years in the UK presenting, writing and researching for TV. I've made a bunch of short films, written for film magazines, done an Arts degree in English and Communications. And written books. I can't kick the writing bug. It's how I make sense of things.

Tell us about your books.

Um. They're really, really good and you should buy a full set for each member of your extended family. ;-) No, I seem to write action-adventure for middle-graders and weird-funny-gross stuff for younger kids. I write about flying bikes and civilian space travel and grandmothers in back-alley brawls and head-lice epidemics. Things that I thought were funny or interesting when I was a kid, and things that entertain me now. My latest manuscript is a bit darker, a crime-mystery perhaps. There is lots of stuff on my books at www.tristanbancks.com

I love all aspects of the writing process. I also love speaking about the books with kids and hearing their feedback and brainstorming ideas. I love that contact point between writer and reader. And I love blurring that line. That's why we developed Story Scrapbook, the free multimedia story brainstorming tool that is on my site for free download. It allows users to mash video, images, music, text and web grabs together in the development of a story. It puts the tools that I use to make my stories into the hands of the reader. And I like that. It's here: http://www.tristanbancks.com/p/story-scrapbook.html

What are some of the biggest challenges? 

Making all the pieces fit on a longer story. You have so many balls in the air - character arcs and relationships and consistent voice and story events and plot and premise and language and humour and chapter tops / tails and making the ending a surprising yet seemingly inevitable upshot of the story that came before it. So many elements to juggle. It's fun but requires time and deep thought and lots of free writing and hanging out with the story.

Where do you get most of your ideas?

Newspapers have been handy. Then the web. Travel stimulates lots of ideas - seeing a place through fresh eyes. Travel makes you a child again.

What's next?

Finishing my current book, diving down into it on a writer-in-residence stint at UNE in Armidale over the next couple of weeks. Lots of speaking through to September - Skype talks and visits to Tasmania (have never been before) and Sydney and Melbourne (Hopefully stimulating tons of new ideas.)  

Stubbies World Change Challenge
Watch the 3-minute video and help us build a school library for kids in Cambodia!

What do you like the most about writing for children?


Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Renee,
fabulous interview.
I met Tristan at CYA last year and bought his awesome SF book.
Are you going to CYA this year? Love to catch up!
Karen :)

Charmaine Clancy said...

Awesome interview, Tristan does run fantastic workshops too.

Unknown said...

Thanks Karen and Charmaine.I attended Tristan's workshop with Belinda Jeffery at The Somerset Celebration of Literacy this year.His story scrapbook ap is awesome!

Tristan Bancks said...

Hey, thanks for saying. And cheers for having me on your blog Renee. Love to hear any feedback y'all have on Story Scrapbook app. Feel free to leave a comment on my site or send an email. Happy writing. T.

DimbutNice said...

Renee, was looking forward to this interview with Tristan. Good one. Especially love the way Tristan makes the whole process seem so much more 'real'. OMG the app is brill. Can't wait to delve further. Thanks R & T for sharing.

Unknown said...

Thanks Tristan for sharing your fabulous books and Story Scrapbook app. I'm excited to be conducting my first competition soon with your chapter book,
My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up.

Hey Dimity,
Thanks for your comment. I'm sure you'll find the Story Scrapbook app very usual.