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NSW Premier's Reading Challenge 2022 - Author talks (primary) - 01. Nat Amoore
SWARA: Hello. My name is Swara Mali and I'm from Chatswood Public School. Today, I'm in The Concourse in Chatswood on Cammeraygal land where I'm going to interview the hilarious and creative Nat Amoore.
NAT AMOORE: Is that me?
NAT AMOORE: Oh, cool. Hilarious and creative. I like it. Thank you. What a wonderful introduction.
SWARA: My first question is, what would you be if you weren't an author?
NAT AMOORE: Oh, that's a great question. You know what I've always wanted to be, other than an author, is the host of a kid's game show, preferably a game show that involves people getting slimed. So, something where it's not just, like, questions and answers trivia stuff but action.
There used to be a kid's game show back when I was a kid called-- I think it was called 'Double Dare' or something, and kids had to do these crazy activities. And then if they failed, they got slimed. So, something like that I think would suit me well.
SWARA: That sounds slimy.
NAT AMOORE: Yes and that's one of my favourite things about life is slime. So, perfect.
SWARA: How do you make your books relate so much to children?
NAT AMOORE: Oh, I think it's because I never grew up. I actually, like-- and people laugh when I say that. But I honestly think I feel exactly the same in my inner core as I did when I was 10 years old. I never really grew up properly and never really became 'adult-y' like some people do.
I just stayed, like, 10 years old on the inside. And so when I write my books, I don't feel like I have to channel a child or think about kids. I just write stuff that I like, and turns out kids like it, too, because they have the same interests and the same things-- same things are funny as I do.
SWARA: How do you get ideas for characters in your stories?
NAT AMOORE: I steal them from people I know. Like, everybody in my book pretty much is based on somebody I know. So, I'll take a little sliver of a person I know, one part of their character or their personality, and that's how I start a character. And then obviously I build on it, and so the person in the end, the character in the end won't be exactly like the person I built them on.
But it always starts with a core of someone I know. And sometimes it's just kids I meet at schools, or, say, in interview rooms when they're asking me questions and then you'll see a character pop up in my book called Swara. You'll be like, hang on a second. She's got really great glasses that are, kind of, pearl pink. Is that supposed to be me? And it probably will be you.
SWARA: [laughs] That sounds very stealthy.
NAT AMOORE: [laughs] It's called ninja writing, that's right. Just go around and steal characters from people you know. It's a good way to go.
SWARA: Who or what was your inspiration?
NAT AMOORE: For writing?
NAT AMOORE: That's a really good question. I think when I was a kid, I really loved Paul Jennings and Gillian Rubinstein who were 2 kids authors. So, that was a bit of inspiration as far as the writing went. But I've always just been really interested in storytelling, and so not necessarily books. I've worked in theatre, on stage. I used to work in the circus. I used to be a trapeze artist.
So, performance and storytelling in film and TV, lots of things, has always just been a part of my life. And so I've met a lot of people along the way who have inspired me, but also I get inspired by other people's works. So, movies. I love movies, and I find them really inspiring. And then, of course, other people's books. But if you're talking about authors, I'd have to say Paul Jennings and Gillian Rubinstein, probably.
SWARA: I've only heard of Paul Jennings, but Gillian Rubinstein also sounds nice.
NAT AMOORE: She's awesome. She wrote a trilogy called 'Space Demons,' 'Skymaze,' and 'Shinkei.' And when I was your age, those books were huge. She's a really great writer.
SWARA: What do you really enjoy about being an author?
NAT AMOORE: Hanging out with kids because adults are really boring. Don't tell any adults I said that, OK?
SWARA: Kind of true.
NAT AMOORE: I know right! See, I say that, and adults are like, no, we're not. And I'm, like, really? Because I've hung out with you and [mumbles]. The best thing about being a kids author is being able to hang out with kids because that's, like-- I don't actually spend a lot of my time with adults anymore. I just spend it with kids. And because I'm still 10 on the inside, it works really well for me. I have a lot of fun.
SWARA: You can note down their personality and use them in your books.
NAT AMOORE: See? I'm telling you all my secrets-- all my secrets.
SWARA: What inspired you to create 'Kooky Kathy'?
SWARA: Oh. So, I actually have a friend called Kathy. And she was one of my mentors when I first started writing. She still is, although she's moved on from being a mentor to actually being a very, very close friend and colleague of mine, someone who's very dear to my heart.
And I think, maybe if it wasn't for her, I might not actually have any books. I really credit a lot of my success to her. And so it seemed only natural-- like I told you, I steal all my characters from real people. So, I felt like she needed to be in the book as a sort of way of saying thank you.
So, there's some traits of Kathy that are in the real Kathy. At the time she had a purple streak in her hair like Kathy does. But then obviously, the final character of Kathy changed a lot from the original. But yeah, she was stolen from a friend of mine, like all my characters.
SWARA: Why did you name Butthead, who is Tessa's family dog, Butthead?
NAT AMOORE: So, again, stealing from my real life. I had a big brother called Dane. So, just like Tess has a big brother called Dane-- again, real person. And he had a dog. And when he got a dog when we were kids, we were like, oh, what are you going to call it?
SWARA: Red Dog.
NAT AMOORE: Yeah, the dog was red, and he called it Red Dog. And I was like, that's such a stupid name. Why wouldn't you come up with something more, I don't know, like, interesting?
And so because this character, Dane, had a dog who everybody thought was kind of not very intelligent, I don't know, it just seemed like Dane would call his dog Butthead and think it was funny, and everyone else would just be like, oh. And so that's why I came up with the name.
SWARA: Why did you connect your stories?
NAT AMOORE: That's a good question. Because when I wrote 'Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire,' It was supposed to be just a standalone. It wasn't going to have any more stories. But then I spent so much time in the world of Watterson and with those characters that I didn't want to leave them behind.
And so I ended up wanting to write more books in that world but not necessarily with Tess and Toby still as the main characters. And so I found this clever way where I could jump around the school and use different kids for the school as main characters but still be in Watterson, still have Kooky Kathy, still have Mr Piddles, still keep all those people I loved in the story but write completely separate stories.
SWARA: How long does it usually take for you to write your average length books?
NAT AMOORE: Oh. So, I'm getting faster. So, the first one probably took about 2 years. But obviously at the time, I had a job-- another job. So, I was writing in my spare time. And then I just kind of get faster and faster. So, then it was a year, and then 9 months, and then-- I think one was 6 months.
So, writing is just like a sport, you know? Like if you want to be a soccer player or something, the more you train, the better you're going to get at dribbling the ball, the faster you're going to get at running, and writing is the same. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the faster you get at it.
So, I'm hoping my next book will only take me 2 weeks. That's my plan.
I don't write on a typewriter. I don't know why I'm doing that. Imagine that's a MacBook. I'm going to-- 2 weeks, one whole book. I don't know if that's going to happen.
SWARA: Thank you for joining me here today.
NAT AMOORE: Thank you for having me. You did an excellent job interviewing me. And if your name pops up in one of my books later, you'll know I stole you and put you in my book. Is that OK?
SWARA: Aah? Yeah, OK, sure.
NAT AMOORE: OK, great. Thank you. [giggles]
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