Howdy All!

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately due to lots of touring and writing a new series - Toffle Towers!

Toffle Towers: Fully Booked is the lead book in the series and it comes out on August 5. I’ve been having a blast working with James Foley on this one. James is an incredibly talented illustrator, writer and presenter, and I can’t wait to do some promotion with him. You can check out more about James here.

The coolest thing is, I’ll be launching the book alongside James soon!

When: 4pm Saturday 17th August

Where: The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft

RSVP: (bookings essential)

The books was inspired when I was watching Fawlty Towers (a classic British comedy), and wondered what it would be like if a kid was in charge of a hotel. The ideas started pouring out and I had to write them down. There are lots of quirky characters in Toffle Towers, and our hero daydreamer, Chegwin, has to think of creative ways to get the hotel back into business.

The story is broken up with funny conversations, email chains, lists and of course, hilarious illustrations by James.

I can’t wait for you to meet Chegwin soon!


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Howdy All!

It’s been a wonderful few months of writing, editing, speaking, and meeting fantastic people. Here are a few highlights in pictures.

Belinda Murrell and I worked with Year 9 students at Shore as they embarked on a creative writing assessment. I must say, I was initially a little daunted by the challenge, but it turned out being one of the best experiences I’ve had in a school. Belinda and I planned a range of activities to get the students thinking about their creative writing mechanics, and watching them apply taught skills to their ideas was super rewarding. It was also valuable picking Belinda’s brains about what she does in schools.

I was lucky enough to speak at two night events – Lights OFF, Torches ON at Crown Street Public School, and again at International Grammar School. It was lovely to see the students (and teachers!) dressed in their PJ’s, reading by torchlight. Other speakers were Jacqueline Harvey, Debra Tidball, Yves Stening, Lisa Nicol, Kate and Joel Temple (pictured below) and Mick Elliott (pictured below).

I spent a day in Melbourne at Penguin Random House headquarters. I was treated to a delicious morning tea of one of my favourite foods – donuts! It was wonderful to meet the Melbourne team. I also spoke at the Roadshow Event, where upcoming releases were introduced to Melbourne-based booksellers.

Felice Arena, Adrian Beck and I presented at schools in Sydney. I’ll never get tired of watching other authors in action, particularly when they have such great energy like Felice and Adrian.

As well as writing books, Adrian produces Kids’ WB (Channel 9GO). Felice interviewed me at my old teaching school, Tara Anglican School for Girls, and the episode will air in Book Week (August 2018). This was especially sentimental as Felice’s presentation at the 2014 Sydney Writers’ Festival inspired me to pursue a writing career.

Last, but certainly not least, the cover for the third book in the Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables series has been unveiled! I’m not sure about you, but I LOVE it! It’s another masterpiece by James Hart.

I have some other exciting news that I’m not able to share yet … but I’ll let you know as soon as I can!



I’ve been lucky to have some time on the road in 2018. Here are some pictures of the year so far.

I enjoyed a few days in Adelaide to promote Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Fight Back. Each school was so welcoming and it was wonderful to meet so many friendly students and teachers. I even got to meet Harry, a young reader who had reviewed Mr Bambuckle in the Adelaide Advertiser.

Australia has so many exceptional independent bookshops. Dillons Norwood in Adelaide is one of them – such a terrific store. I popped in to sign some books. A big shout out to the other booksellers I was lucky enough to meet. Keep doing what you’re doing!

Next up was Tasmania with George Ivanoff. George has just published the first two books in his fantastic new series, ‘Other Worlds’. I’ve read the first book and it’s a beauty! (Stay tuned for a review.) George lost his voice on tour but he powered on like a trooper. We visited several schools and bookstores in both Launceston and Hobart. A highlight was a delicious dinner with our publicist at ‘The Drunken Admiral’ on the wharf in Hobart.

I spent six days in Brisbane visiting schools and libraries. I’m always so impressed by how school librarians encourage reading in their own unique way. Alison Zylstra (Pacific Coast Christian School) had the students create their own “Excuses” posters in the style of Exploding Endings.

Having heard so many great things about Somerset Celebration of Literature (Gold Coast), it was incredible to be part of it in 2018. Thousands of school students from Queensland descend on Somerset each year to be inspired to think and read. This is a festival I hope to be part of again in the future.

I always love catching up with Jacqueline Harvey. She’s been a huge influence on me (an example of a disciplined work ethic) and is always so generous with her knowledge. Her new book ‘Kensy and Max’ is out and one of the next on my TBR (To Be Read) pile. Jacqueline was part of the line up at Somerset.

I always love catching up with Jacqueline Harvey. She’s been a huge influence on me (an example of a disciplined work ethic) and is always so generous with her knowledge. Her new book ‘Kensy and Max’ is out and one of the next on my TBR (To Be Read) pile. Jacqueline was part of the line up at Somerset.

Sometimes ‘touring’ means Skyping. This year I’ve chatted to some terrific children in London and Adelaide. Technology opens up so many great conversations!

I’ve just returned from All Saints’ College in Bathurst. The school hosted a three day festival, which included (L-R) myself, Liz Anelli, Jess Black and John Heffernan. A highlight was the school tour, including walking through the historical buildings.

Thanks for having a look. 



Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Fight Back hits the shelves this week. What better way to celebrate than to meet the remarkably talented James Hart and hear about his creative process!

When did you first start drawing? When did you realise it was something you wanted to do for a living?

I began drawing straight from the womb…  Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, I feel like it was as soon as I could hold a crayon. I can’t remember not drawing, I’ve always loved it.

I DO remember when I was 4 or 5 making up a team of super hero type characters called the Blood-Men! Because blood was cool and stuff. Inspired by He-Man. I’d draw them on card board and make cut out toys and give them blood-related names. Since that time I’ve always been creating characters in my head and on paper.

In primary school I was asked if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up… I didn’t know. In my head I never wanted to grow up and wasn’t thinking about that stuff at that stage, I just liked to draw. Why do adults always ask stuff like that?

It wasn’t until high school when everyone began to think a little more seriously about what they wanted to do for a career. Everything else that other people wanted to do sounded so boring to me. I just liked to draw. I soon discovered that there were in fact jobs that let you do just that! Jobs where you could sit at home and draw ALL day in your undies and people would give you money for it!

What is your approach to creating the characters in Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables?

The characters to Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables came quite naturally (thanks to awesome an awesome author). Mr Bambuckle the teacher, however, required a little more work, knowing that he needed to be more iconic and remarkable!! The first thing that I did was read the stories a couple of times and let the characters form in my mind. A lot of my designing of characters, scenes, book covers etc all start with me just letting it stew in my mind while I’m doing other things. Which is good and bad. Good in that my brain is kind of just doing the work without me knowing, and bad in that I am never not working. 

From there it’s a matter of scribbling down the loose look of that characters as I see them in my head, sometimes a few times until it looks how I want them to look based on descriptions in the book and how they act and behave.

Who is your favourite character to illustrate? Why?

My favourite character to illustrate in the book is Carrot. I just really love scribbling his curly hair and shirt stripes. Plus he’s a really good kid. I also love drawing canteen Carol and Mr Sternblast because they’re fun to draw, especially with their cranky expressions.

What are some of the other projects you’ve been working on? Do you take different approaches to different books?

Over the last few months I’ve been working on lots of different books – all of them with slightly different styles and looks. I’ve recently finished the D-Bot Squad series with Mac Park, I’m currently finishing off The Mysterious World of Cosentino book 3, I’m in the middle of a new series called Other Worlds by George Ivanoff of You Choose fame, and I’m just beginning a new project involving fart monsters. Each of these has a slightly different way of illustrating. Cosentino looks quite animated, Otherworlds is more comicbook like and more in the  style of the You Choose books and I’m actually using a different program to do the inking lines on the computer. And the Fart Monsters project has no black outline and is more cartoony. Swapping between these styles can be tricky and I often forget how many fingers I need to be giving the characters of different books.

What can you tell us about the actual illustration process? What tools do you use?

My process is that of a production line, using a Wacom Cintiq tablet to draw directly to my computer, on various software, mostly Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro. I’ll run everything through my ‘illustration factory’ one stage at a time. For example, if I have a book like Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables, I’ll scribble out every illustration (say 30) first VERY roughly all in red, blocking out the scenes and composition. I’ll then move on to neat roughs of all 30 in a dark grey. All of these roughs are drawn in a single file called ALL.psd in Sketchbook Pro with folders and layers numbered according to illustration number. I will then save out jpgs of each of the illustrations from the psd file to send to the publisher for them to check and give feedback before working on the final illustrations. Have you fallen asleep yet?

Certainly not, James! 

The final illustrations are made in separate files (for Bambuckle’s I used Sketchbook Pro for the finals, where as other books I mostly use Photoshop for the final art)  I will continue the production line by doing all the line work first on each illustration. Then I’ll do all the flat tone or colour work of each file. Wake up now!! Then I’ll go through and do the shadow and highlight tones for each file. The final pass is doing any changes to line colours or extra tweaks. I’ll then save them all out to a different folder as flat versions with no layers. Then it’s off to the publishers to be checked and if they’re all good then they’re ready for the printed book. Hooray (now you can sleep)!! Between all these stages are lots of snacks, coffees, head scratching, email writing, self doubting, kid wrangling, Instagram surfing, YouTube/Spotify listening and naps! Phew!!

Tell us about your workspace. What are your top five office necessities?

My work space has been through sooo many different combinations of layouts and designs and furniture. I’ve finally found the best position for everything and recently completed a small renovation of my studio, including building a custom work desk, painting a full wall black board and having some air conditioning installed so I can finally work comfortably upstairs through summer with out my arm sticking to my desk and sweat dripping on my keyboard. It’s now a space I never want to leave.

Hmmm, top 5 office necessities. 

  1. Coffee

  2. Youtube & Spotify

  3. Snacks

  4. Headphones

  5. Wacom Cintiq

What advice would you give to budding illustrators?

The first thing is simply just practise. Just keep drawing. Everyday. Draw anything and everything. Keep a sketch book and take it with you everywhere you go. Ideas can pop into your head anywhere. If you have your sketch book with you, you can do a quick squiggle of the idea and/or write it down.  

Setting goals is very important too. Then focusing on that goal and not getting distracted along the way. Which is hard. BUT never give up! I found something the other day that I made about 12 years ago. It was a folder with lots of pictures I’d found and printed out of other artist’s work that I loved and wished I could draw like. I’d put it all together as a kind of folio of work that I wished I’d produced. It was a physical goal. Something to work towards. I am constantly trying to get better as a craftsman, and that folder helped me.  

But most importantly, HAVE FUN! Drawing and creating characters and stories is so much fun! And if you’re having fun with it, it will shine through in your pictures and stories and then other people will enjoy it and have fun too! 

Thanks James! Your illustrations are being enjoyed by thousands of children – keep up the incredible work!


October and November have been particularly busy months. Here are some of the highlights in pictures:

I was absolutely blown away to find out that Exploding Endings: Painted Dogs & Doom Cakes won Honour Book at the KOALA Awards. The KOALA Awards are voted on by children, so this was especially thrilling. Congratulations to all the winners!

It was fun visiting Melbourne in October to be part of the YABBA Awards. I got to meet plenty of wonderful children, librarians, teachers, and other authors and illustrators.

Thanks for stopping by!



Five Real Teachers Who Inspired Mr Bambuckle

I’ll preface this by saying I worked with some amazing teachers during my fifteen years in the classroom. My closest colleagues – my grade partners – each influenced my teaching experiences, and therefore the shaping of Mr Bambuckle. There is joy to be found cherry-picking the best ideas and traits from those around you and implementing them as your own. I have former colleagues to thank for providing rich pickings.

That being said, there are five special teachers who I drew from when writing Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables. I’d like you to meet them now.

1.  Mr Oli Magi (My Year 4 teacher and cricket coach)

Mr Magi was my teacher when I was ten years old. I was a very quiet student in class – very much someone with a low profile. I initially feared him as he was my first male teacher and he also had a strict reputation. What Mr Magi did for me, however, was empower me and help me find confidence at school. He gave me a job that terrified me, appointing me captain of the school cricket team. This did wonders for my self-esteem.

I wonder if you can spot me in the photos?

Mr Bambuckle believes in empowering his students. He takes them out of their comfort zone and helps them gain confidence. Just ask Evie Nightingale.

2.  Mr Andrew Phillips (My grade partner on Year 2, 2002)

There are not many teachers as artistically talented as Andrew Phillips. He films entire movies with his class, has them rebuild car engines and encourages them to create paintings that adults would be intimidated by. My favourite memory of teaching with Andrew is when we combined classes for a public speaking competition. We introduced each student with a song we thought matched their personality. Much laughter!

Mr Bambuckle is highly creative and encourages his students to stretch themselves imaginatively. He has them design apps, brainstorm ridiculous uses for bicycle and build drones from scratch. You can ask Carrot Grigson about the drones.

3.  Mr Rohan Fielder (colleague during my early years of teaching)

While I never had the privilege of grade-sharing with Mr Fielder, rumours of his hilarious classroom antics filled the staffroom (and playground!). He would dress up in silly outfits, write quirky songs in class (he is a very talented musician), make jokes, and generally have his class in stitches.

Mr Bambuckle is an ambassador of fun. He is light-hearted, has a quick wit, and loves to entertain. Who else sings rare Mongolian welcome songs to their class each morning?

4.  Mr Nigel Kleinveldt (Executive teacher and Head of Primary)

Those who know Mr Kleinveldt will all agree with me that he is a rock who cannot be shaken. When others are panicking, flustered or stressed, Mr Kleinvedlt is the calming influence. Nothing, no matter how big the problem, phases him. He is grounded and has others’ interests at heart.

Mr Bambuckle faces adversity with grace. The ever-grouchy Mr Sternblast is looking for a way to fire him, but Mr Bambuckle is a rock of calmness. He settles the children and buffers their insecurities with steadiness. Vex Vron knows all about this.

5.  Mrs Jo Grinham (grade partner for two years)

Jo Grinham touches everyone she meets with warmth and kindness. She is the most generous person I know. On my first day at a new school, she welcomed me with some of my favourite treats that she had secretly researched. Her effect on children is to behold. They feel elevated, valued and loved in her presence.

Mr Bambuckle cares. He knows his students’ names before he meets them. He cooks them breakfast. He makes them feel special. Harold McHagil can tell you a thing or two about that.

“Mr Bambuckle is an extraordinary teacher and this is an extraordinary book … Every kid needs to meet a Mr Bambuckle” The Sunday Telegraph

“Mr Bambuckle is an absolute delight to read aloud to middle Primary classes” ReadPlus

“… a deliciously original novel” Glee Books

“… a fast-paced story with sense and purpose” Bibliophile Mom

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables is available at all good book stores.


Hi All,

I hope you had a wonderful Book Week. I know I certainly did. Getting out into schools and meeting lots of enthusiastic readers is such a lovely perk of the job.

Here are some photos from the past couple of weeks.

We live in such a beautiful country. I’m occasionally lucky enough to travel to picturesque schools such as Scarborough, just south of Sydney.

Many schools hold book fairs during Book Week. I love sneaking in and browsing the titles between sessions. This book fair at Knox Grammar school was beautifully set up.

Students at Wentworth Falls Public School were invited to design cakes based on books. I LOVE this Exploding Endings cake.

I love chatting about the ideas behind storytelling, as well as sharing snippets from my books. Meeting wonderful audiences such as King’s and Ravenswood (below) is so much fun!

Another perk is meeting awesome librarians and other authors. Mrs Bourke did such a brilliant job of preparing the student at Glendenning Public School. I also had the great honour of meeting the author of the popular Tashi series, Anna Fienberg.

As well as visiting schools, I launched Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft. Paul and Beth have been such an amazing supporter of my books.

What would Book Week be without dressing up? At Masada college I met a (collective noun name??) of Oompa Loompas. Archie, who is reading and reviewing 52 books this year, even dressed up as Mr Bambuckle. And what a super job he did! Check out his review page here –

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Book Week so much fun!


Earlier this month I had the great privilege of presenting at the Newington College Literature Festival. Almost 30 authors, poets, journalists and illustrators from all over Australia gathered at the college to speak to students from Newington and other local schools.

I had lots of fun discussing creative influence with students in year 7. There’s a blurry line between ‘copying’ and ‘influence’, which sometimes scares young people away from being creative. It is important to discuss the power of influence and inspiration in generating ideas of your own.

It was fantastic to meet so many other writers and illustrators. I always enjoy listening to other authors when they chat about the writing process. It’s a great way to pick up new knowledge.

Pictured above – top row: Susan Gervay, Kate Forsyth, Matthew Lin, Tristan Bancks. Bottom row: James Moloney, Tim Harris, Phil Wilcox, Liam Pieper.

I had lots of fun presenting to stage 2 students at the Wyvern and Lindfield campuses. There were plenty of laughs, and I was able to share a few excerpts from the yet-to-be-released Exploding Endings: Screenshots & Laughing Gas.

After the Newington Festival, I scooted across to Manly for an evening spent with librarians from the NSW Catholic Schools Association. It was an incredibly enjoyable evening mixing with passionate teacher-librarians, booksellers, authors and illustrators.

The thing that struck me during this busy week, is how active adults are in encouraging children to read. Every person I met at the festival and event in Manly shared a common goal: inspiring a love of reading. In itself, that was inspiring for me.



This year more than 17,000 children across New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory nominated their favourite books to create the REAL (Reading and Enjoying Australian Literature) Awards shortlists.

I am absolutely delighted that Exploding Endings: Painted Dogs & Doom Cakes has been shortlisted in the ‘Fiction for Older Readers’ category! I went to my local butcher and bought cheesymite sausages to celebrate.

The winners are announced in late October after lots of reading (and more voting!) takes place in terms 2-4. I can’t wait to head to Melbourne to be part of the awards day! The NSW Koala Awards will be in early October at North Rocks Public School, and I can’t wait to be part of the day there, too.

I am extremely humbled to be among such company, and will be rather nervous rubbing shoulders with some of my heroes come October. Congratulations to all the other authors and illustrators!

The 2017 YABBA shortlists can be accessed here. Don’t forget to vote for the YABBAs, KOALAs and CROCs.




March was a busy month, but one I enjoyed tremendously.

I had the great privilege of spending a day with the primary students at Northholm Grammar School. The librarians made to feel very welcome, which was quite remarkable considering the library itself had been flooded due to torrential rain! We shared lots of laughs and got down to some serious writing in the afternoon. Thanks, Lyn Pellizon, for being such a generous host.

Following Northholm, I presented to teacher-librarians from the Illawarra region. I spoke about my creative processes, as well as the importance of short stories. It was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic, dynamic and passionate librarians! Thanks, Beth and Paul at the Children’s Bookshop, for putting on such a great morning.

One of the things I love about being an author is getting out and about and enjoying the scenery. I stayed in Orangeville for a night and was treated to a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

The night at Orangeville was prompted by a two-day visit to Wollondilly Anglican College. There, Belinda Murrell and I acted as writers-in-residence to run workshops for the students in the primary years. We met some enthusiastic writers and were made to feel like rock stars. It was very cool being able to watch Belinda interact with her legion of fans. Thanks, Gail, for your warm hospitality and superb organisation.

I also had the privilege working with students in years 3 and 5 at Abbotsleigh. Was my mind blown? Yes! The students produced some stunning snippets of writing, some of which I had to take photos of. We enjoyed lots of laughs during the presentations, then got down to business with 7 workshops across two days. I’m looking forward to visiting Abbotsleigh again in September to work with students in years 4 and 6.

March was also filled with editing two books – Exploding Endings 4 and the first book in a brand new series, as well as drafting another new book. I have some very exciting news to be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!



Music and I go way back. As an impressionable 12-year-old, I would lie on the living room floor, my head between the speakers, listening to Mum’s vinyl collection. I dreamed of playing in a band, and wanted nothing more than a life filled with music.

During my first ten years as a teacher (2001-2010), I moonlighted as a musician. Music had a way of bringing out my creative best and triggered a mindset filled with possibilities. I went on to record an EP with a band, and two full-length solo albums, the first of which I was able to give a mini world tour. During this time, it was the songwriting I enjoyed most. Songwriting allowed a quiet creative space in which meaningful expression could be made.

And then came children.

The pressures of parenting and full-time teaching meant that music had to give. I was too busy and too tired to be writing and playing until the early hours of the morning. The decision was made to “hang up” the keyboard and microphone. Music was to take a backseat for the next few years. It was to be squeezed in between cries and tantrums; a hasty clutch at sanity.

‘Eyes’ from my first album ‘Starlight Avenue’ (2007).

—video no longer available—

Now in my second year away from full-time teaching, I recently experienced the joy of setting up a record player in my home office. Boy, was it a good move. As a writer of children’s books, anything that captures the essence of my younger self is a good thing. By setting up a record player, I’ve been able to tap in to the feelings and possibilities of childhood – a creative renaissance, as such.

Rediscovering my love of music has once again allowed a quiet creative space in which meaningful expression can be made.

Vinyl and Lego are helping me think like my younger self.

Vinyl and Lego are helping me think like my younger self.

My favourite album of 2016: ‘Foreverland’ by The Divine Comedy.

There’s really not a huge point to this post. I’ve been slack updating the blog and wanted to share something simple. And put simply, music is once again bringing me joy.

What’s bringing you joy at the moment?



August 2016 will go down as one of the most hectic and sentimental periods of my writing career to date. When I resigned from full-time teaching at the end of last year, my hope was to visit five schools in August. With visits stretching into early September, that number ended up being twenty. As a new author I am extremely grateful to all the schools, teachers and students who made me feel so welcome during Book Week.

Here are a few photos from August.

Re-visiting The King’s School – where my writing journey began – was an especially lovely experience. The students at Green Point Christian College were super fun. Thanks for helping me brainstorm! Jesse dressed up for Book Week as a certain author – very cool!

The Cowan/Brooklyn Writers’ Festival was a delightful experience. Meeting some of my author heroes was a thrill. Parramatta Public School students made me feel very welcome (go Eels!) and EE3 filled the window at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft.

Launching Exploding Endings 3: Cursed Pants & Cranky Cops was a real highlight. It was lovely to see so many friends, family and readers in attendance. EE4 is scheduled for a March, 2017 release – its time to get cracking on the final stories!

I hope Book Week was lots of fun for you!



Would you like to win $279 and a pile of signed books? Would you like to star in the next Exploding Endings book trailer?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both of these questions, then this is the competition for you!

This competition requires a video entry/audition. Simply memorise five excuses from ‘The Top 79’ in either of the first two Exploding Endings books, make a video of yourself saying the excuses, and send the video in. Easy!

Helpful tips:

  • select a variety of excuses in terms of difficulty (you’ll be required to learn lines for the official book trailer)

  • introduce yourself and explain why you think you’ll be great for the lead role

  • use a range of different facial expressions

  • be expressive and clear with your voice

  • show a bit of attitude – you’re proving your innocence! No teacher can blame you with these excuses

  • try to keep the video to less than 1 min 30 seconds

  • have fun

You might like to check out the trailer for Exploding Endings: Dingbats & Lollypop Arms to get inspiration!

To enter the competition you must:

  • have permission from your parents or guardian (they’ll need to post your audition to my Facebook Page, or email it in)

  • be human (sorry, no cats or marshmallows allowed)

  • be aged 8-12 years

  • live in Sydney or be able to film in Sydney in early August

Video entries can be uploaded to my Facebook Page or emailed to

The closing date for entries is July 31, 2016.

Have fun and I look forward to seeing your entries soon!



One of the best things about being an author is visiting different schools. You get to meet some fantastic people! I love the energy that an audience can generate, as well as the creative ideas we can make and share.

Here are a few pictures from some of the recent school visits.

Launching Exploding Endings at Tara Anglican School for Girls was a very special occasion. Tara is a wonderful school and I enjoy working there on Thursdays.

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Exploding Endings 3 is ready for a September release, and I’ve now turned my attention to writing book 4. I’ll spend most of June working away at this and hope to share some new ideas during the next school visits.

There’s some big news and a competition coming shortly. Stay tuned!