Everyone knows someone who seems to have boundless energy, a positive outlook and more hours in their day than the rest of us. Sydney author, Nat Amoore, is one of those people. That’s great news because a lot of her energy is spent championing the push to encourage kids to ‘read, write and explore their imaginations without boundaries’.
Nat Amoore is the author of two fabulous books for upper primary students, both published by Penguin Random House. Her first book, The Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire, was the #1 bestselling debut Aussie children’s fiction book here in Australia in 2019! Nat Amoore is also the co-host of the brilliant KidLit podcast One More Page, a finalist in the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards.
If you’ve read any books by Nat Amoore, you’ll see she has a very vivid imagination. Let’s see exactly how she uses this in her writing.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your writing?
I’ve always had what my mum, dad, teachers, babysitters and pretty much anyone who ever encountered me, would call an ‘overactive imagination’. I was the kid who would tell stories and put on plays and dream up movies and write ‘books’ – I guess nothing ever really changed. But I also draw heavily on real life.
Somewhere in the core of every character lies a drop of someone I’ve met in my life.
Nearly all of my characters start with the essence of someone I know. I use my imagination to build on that of course.
For plots and ideas, I often use podcasts, online/newspaper articles and things that are happening in the world that confuse me or frustrate me.
The idea for Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire came from a story I read about a girl in the USA who got busted at school with a million dollars in her locker.
What are your tips for students whose brains freeze when they’re faced with a blank page and told to write?
Honestly, I think it’s usually to do with the physical act of writing. If you ask a kid to TELL you a story, that’s almost never a problem. Kids (and adults) can get intimidated by the spelling and the grammar and the punctuation – I know I sure do!
It took me a long time to become an author because I thought I wasn’t a good enough writer.
In fact, I still don’t think I’m that great but I let it go and choose to believe in my talent as a storyteller. When I talk to kids, I focus on the idea of storytelling rather than writing.
If you’re stuck for ideas, create a mash-up character and tell your reader how it came to be. For example, try a half human, half microwave creature.
Google ‘weirdest newspaper headlines’ and write a story based on one of those.
Or try Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for some VERY interesting story prompts.
Which of your books holds a special place in your heart and why?
Aw! This is SUCH a hard question to answer.
You must know that right? (Yes, we do – which is precisely why we ask it.)
It changes for me. Each book means something different to me at different times. Secrets Of A Schoolyard Millionaire was my first book, the one that got me published, so it’s really special.
The Power Of Positive Pranking showed me I could actually do it again, that it wasn’t just a fluke. It also came out when the message of ‘taking a stand and making yourself heard’ was really very poignant.
And I guess, right now, it’s an untitled manuscript I’m working on (that should be coming out next year). It has some representation you don’t see that often and is really special to me.
So there, question unanswered!
You’re only allowed to choose one … which of your characters is your favourite and why?
Probably Kooky Kathy. She just a real constant. For me, she’s the perfect adult. She’s there to support kids and try to nudge them in the right direction. Ultimately, though, she thinks they should make their own decisions and lets them make the mistakes they need to. She’s a shoulder to cry on, has a great sense of humour, doesn’t care what other people think and has total Peter Pan syndrome. She also has a pet ferret called Mr Piddles, so really she couldn’t get any cooler!
When you think about children reading your books, how does this make you feel? What do you want them to gain from your stories?
Nervous. Book reviews and awards are really important, but when it comes down to it, the only opinions I really care about, are those of the kids. I mean that’s the whole reason I do what I do.
What do you want readers to gain from your stories?
I want to make kids feel how I felt when I read Paul Jennings and Gillian Rubenstein. Transported, empowered, amused and a little bit naughty.
I have no intention of trying to tell kids what they should do or think.
Getting them thinking and maybe getting them doing are my goals. I don’t have the answers for them, though, I wish I did. My books are purely meant to get kids thinking about what THEY believe in, what THEY think is right or wrong, what THEY can do in this world.
My characters are FAR from perfect. But they are trying and they are taking chances and they are learning from their mistakes.
What more can we ask from kids really?
Do you find Nat Amoore’s energy infectious? Imagine what she could do to enliven a group of ‘not writing again’ students during a school visit! You can find out more about Nat Amoore via her website. There are some pretty good teaching notes there, and contact details. Don’t forget to check out the One More Page podcast too!
If you’ve been inspired by Nat Amoore, but still yearning for more, check out some more fabulous author interviews here.