NSW Premier's Reading Challenge 2022 – author interview (primary) – Mick Elliott
Terence from Chatswood Public School interviews Mick Elliott, author and illustrator extraordinaire. What would Mick do if he wasn’t an author? What books did he read when he was younger? How did Mick’s experience at his childhood dinner table influence him to become a writer? Join Mick and Terence backstage at the 2022 Sydney Writers’ Festival to find out!
Suitable for primary students.
Transcript – NSW Premier's Reading Challenge 2022 – author interview (primary) – Mick Elliott
TERENCE: Hi, my name is Terence Huang, and I'm from Chatswood Public School. I am at The Concourse, Chatwood, and I am on Cammeraygal land for the Sydney Writers' Festival. And I'm so happy to meet you, Mick Elliot.
MICK ELLIOT: Thanks, Terence. It's great to meet you.
TERENCE: OK, so my first question is, you're here because you're an author. But if you weren't an author, what would you be?
MICK ELLIOT: If I wasn't an author, what would I be? That's a really good question. I think I would probably either be maybe someone who tests roller coasters at theme parks. I think that would be a very important job, very important job. Or maybe someone who looks after animals, but freaky animals, like Komodo dragons.
TERENCE: Yeah. Then you included that in 'The Turners'.
MICK ELLIOT: Yeah, my first book, 'The Turners', was all about a kid who turns into a Komodo dragon.
TERENCE: What's your favourite thing about being an author?
MICK ELLIOT: Do you know what? The best thing about being an author is, actually, it's coming up with stories that will entertain kids and make them laugh. I just love making people laugh, I like making kids laugh.
TERENCE: Do you have a favourite book or character that you've written?
MICK ELLIOT: I think the favourite book that I've written, that's a really hard one. That's like asking what the best ice cream flavour is. But I think look I really do love my first book series, 'The Turners'.
TERENCE: Yeah, the same.
MICK ELLIOT: Yeah, that's great. Because it was an idea that I'd had for many, many years. It took me 4 years to write it.
And when it was finished, I had lots of kids say that they really loved it, so probably 'The Turners'.
TERENCE: So, what book did you like to read when you were like a child or when you were younger?
MICK ELLIOT: Well, here's a secret. When I was younger, we didn't have a lot of books. We had quite a few books, but not a lot. But the ones that I really remember reading, when I was very, very young, there was a series by a guy called Richard Scarry.
And he used to draw little pictures of bunnies, and the books were called things like busy people and busy towns, and it was always little rabbits and things. What I loved about them, so you'd open them up. And every single page was just full of so much detail.
MICK ELLIOT: So many colours. I really loved reading the Tintin books as well. I just loved how full of different amazing art they were, and this reporter, who was a boy who went on different adventures. And of course, I loved all the Roald Dahl books as well, which-- everybody loves Roald Dahl.
TERENCE: Yes, of course. I like Roald Dahl's, too. What has influenced you to become an author?
MICK ELLIOT: I think the thing that influenced me to become an author, funnily enough, was actually being the youngest child in my family. So, I had 2 elder brothers. And when you're the youngest-- do you have brothers or sisters?
TERENCE: Yeah, I'm the older one.
MICK ELLIOT: Oh, you're the older one. It's very different from my experience. Because as the youngest, you rarely get a moment to get heard at all. At the dinner table, your older brothers, for me, anyway, would always be the ones talking. I would never get a chance to be heard.
And so, I always used to have to really think about what I was going to say to get a reaction from everybody. And I think that actually helped me as a storyteller. So, now, as an adult, as a grown up, I get to just make people laugh. I think I got that talent from, basically, as a kid going, 'Hey, I want someone to listen to me.' And now, I get people to listen to my silly stories and funny stories in my books.
TERENCE: That must be nice.
MICK ELLIOT: It's pretty cool.
TERENCE: What advice would you give to students who might struggle to find books they enjoy reading?
MICK ELLIOT: That's a really good question. Because often, when I visit schools, I will meet kids who say, 'Oh, I don't really like reading.' But the problem actually is that it's actually not that they don't like reading is that they haven't found the right book for them.
And oftentimes, at school, the teacher might say, 'Hey, read this book.' But it might not be about something you're interested in, or the language in it might be too complicated. Or it might be too simple for you. And oftentimes, someone will look at a book and go, 'Err, I don't really like this so I don't think I really like reading.'
But to me, that would be like the first time you play a Nintendo Switch game and say, you didn't really like driving simulation games, and you played Mario. Well, you wouldn't just go, 'Well, I hate all Nintendo Switch games.' Try another one. And that's what we need to do as readers. We need to keep on trying different books until we find one that we like because there is a book out there for everybody
TERENCE: That's true. And finally, is there going to be a new series you're about to write?
MICK ELLIOT: Yeah, I'm actually, right now, working on a picture book series for much, much younger readers than you. This is for really little kids. And that's going to come out in another year from now. So, I'm very, very busy drawing all the pictures, and it's the first time--
Even though I did all the drawings for the 'Squidge Dibley' series, they were just black and white line drawings. But this series, it's going to be full colour, and it takes a really long time. It's going to be, at least, another year before it comes out, but I'm really excited about it.
TERENCE: Thank you so much, Mick. It's been great talking to you.
MICK ELLIOT: It's been just so awesome. And you, too, Terence. Thank you so much.
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