Video transcript
NSW Premier's Reading Challenge 2021 - Author talks (primary) - 01. Nat Amoore

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[intro music]

IVY: Hi. I'm Ivy. And I'm from Ebenezer Public School. We're here today at Riverside Theatre Parramatta, on Darug land, as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival Primary School Days.

I'm here today with the amazing Nat Amoore.

NAT AMOORE: Did you get that? 'Amazing Nat Amoore.' We're going to call me that from now on. OK?


NAT AMOORE: So, it's never ever just going to be Nat. It has to be the amazing Nat Amoore. Yeah? Deal? All right.

IVY: So Nat, your book, 'The Power of Positive Pranking,' is about Casey and how she challenges the wrongs of adults using protest pranks to make herself heard. How do you know when it's right to challenge the rules?

NAT AMOORE: I am a big believer in that feeling in your gut. And, I actually talk about it in the first book, too, when you have that feeling that something's not right, you've got to listen to that gut feeling.

And so, I think, my biggest thing is there's kind of a little bit of a thing with older people - we call them 'adults' - where they sort of are like 'kids should be seen and not heard' and 'do what you're told.' And that's great. I totally believe in respect and all those kind of things.

But, at the same time, our world is constantly changing. And, the kids are the future of tomorrow. So, they need to be doing things not just because they're being told to, but because they believe those things are right. We've had laws and rules and stuff that have changed as we've progressed and become smarter and more empathetic and all that kind of stuff.

And so my . . . it was more just a thank you to kids who were protesting climate change, making change in the world, becoming better people. The book was just a thank you to them for saying, 'thanks for being awesome and keep doing it.'

So, I'm all about following your gut. I do it every day. It's all I listen to is my gut, especially when it's hungry and it's like 'feed me.' That's when I listen to it most.

IVY: Is Casey based on you?

NAT AMOORE: No, no, no. She's way too intelligent to be me, way too organised. No, definitely not. I would say if anything, Tess from the first book is probably more like me. Casey is maybe the person I want to be.

I sort of wrote it thinking like, a lot of the time, I want to make a difference in the world. And, I really struggle with how I can do that. I always feel like I'm not doing enough. And so, Casey is kind of the person that I want to be when I grow up, even though she's 10 or 11, but when I grow up - when I grow down, maybe. I don't know.

IVY: What made you realise you wanted to be a writer?

NAT AMOORE: I don't know. I think I've always been a storyteller. So, everything I've done in my life has been about . . . like when I was a little kid, I loved show and tell. And, then I worked in the film industry.

And, I did entertainment at hotel resorts, which is telling stories on a stage. I've always been that person at dinner that's like 'and then this happened' and telling stories in front of everybody. So, I think it was just a natural progression that it ended up being storytelling in books, because I wanted to talk to kids. And, books made the most sense. Best way to tell stories to kids is through books, I think.

IVY: When you start a book, do you know how it will end?

NAT AMOORE: Yes. So, I need to know two things when I start a book - how it starts and how it ends. The bit in between is a massive blur. And, it's almost like a surprise to me.

A lot of the time, I'll be writing, and my characters will do things I didn't even know they were going to do. But, it's very important that I have an end goal. Otherwise . . . because I find it very hard to concentrate. I'll start just being like, blah, blah, and writing all over the place.

So, I need to know that I'm going there. But, I don't know what's going to happen between here and there.

IVY: Yeah. Do you think Mr. Piddles, the ferret, is an important character in the story?

NAT AMOORE: He's the most important character in the story. He's also my favourite character. Mr. Piddles. I'm really excited, because in the third book, 'The Right Way to Rock,' Mr. Piddles actually makes the back cover.

And, I've always wanted to see the illustrator draw Mr. Piddles. And so, I'm so excited that he made the back cover. Yeah, Mr. Piddles. Not only important, but my favourite.

IVY: Does the advice from Trixie Wu remind you of the advice from your own Mum?

NAT AMOORE: No. My mum always says 'Get your elbows off the table. Tuck your shirt in. Stop sticking your tongue out in photos.'

No, Trixie Wu has a really lovely sense of humour. My Grandma's name was Trixie. So, when I was writing those messages from Trixie, I had my Grandma in my mind probably more than my Mum.

My Grandma was very cheeky, very naughty. I probably got a lot of me from her. So yeah, it's probably a little bit more my Grandma's vibe than my Mum's vibe. Yeah.

IVY: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

NAT AMOORE: Oh. So, I changed my mind a lot. So, I went through an acting stage. I wanted to be an actor. Then I wanted to be a rock star. Then I wanted to be an astronaut.

At one point, I wanted to be a photographer. Then I became a trapeze artist in the circus. So, I did that for a while. Then I wanted to work in film and TV production. And, then I wanted to work at a fairy shop.

And, then I wanted to work in travel. And then . . . and it's still changing. So, two years ago, I decided I wanted to be a writer. And, who knows what I'll be next week? Could keep changing.

IVY: Yeah. How do you select the names for your characters?

NAT AMOORE: Pretty much everybody's named after somebody I know. I steal names of kids all the time when I'm signing books. I'll be like, 'Oh, what's your name?' And they'll be like, 'Oh, my name's Tanner.' And I'll be like, 'Oh, that's a great name.'

In my little computer brain, I'll be like, 'Tanner' and write it to the list. And, then I'll sign the name. And, I'll be like, 'Just say in the next book, there was a character called Tanner. Would you mind?'

And, they're always like, 'No, that'd be fine.' Yes. So yeah, pretty much all the names are stolen from people I know.

IVY: Yeah. Do you always write sitting at your computer?

NAT AMOORE: Yeah. Yeah, I'm very bad at writing with a pen. So, in school, I was never given my pen licence because my handwriting was so bad. I can't join my writing. So, when I write, I print. So, by the time I write one paragraph, my arm's about to fall off because it's so sore.

So, I always write at a computer. But, I do take the computer around with me. So, sometimes, I might write in a cafe or a library or something like that.

IVY: I think the moral of the story in 'The Power of Positive Pranking' is about standing up for what you believe in. Should all books have a moral?

NAT AMOORE: No. No. I think you've got to write the story that you wanted to tell. It's really funny. I love that you see that as the moral. But, like I said, that book was just a shout-out. That was my way of saying thank you to the kids that were already doing something.

So books can be . . . books should be everything. And, books should be everything that they want to be. So, books can be just jokes. Books can be sad. They can be funny.

They can be fart jokes. They can make you cry. The whole point is we want all kinds of books out there so you kids can make the decision. We're not going to . . . I don't think we should be telling you what to read. If you're in the mood for something funny, go and grab a joke book. A joke book doesn't have a moral.

But, if that's what you feel like reading, read what your heart makes you want to read. So, no, they don't need a moral. But, I think it should have a bit of the author's heart in it. And, that's what 'Positive Pranking' has in it.

IVY: Yeah. What was your favourite book as a child?

NAT AMOORE: 'Uncanny' by Paul Jennings. Yeah, I was a massive Paul Jennings fan. He really shaped me as a person and an author. And, there's a book - sorry, a story in 'Uncanny.' It's the last story called 'Know All.' And, that was my favourite story in that book.

IVY: I'm really looking forward to your next book. Thank you so much for your time.

NAT AMOORE: Thank you so much for yours, Ivy. And, thank you for my new name, the amazing Nat. I'm going to roll with that. Thanks.


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