Ever since he was a kid, Oliver Phommavanh has loved to make people laugh. He also loved dinosaurs and reading. Luckily for us, he gave up on trying to find a pile of dinosaur bones and decided to focus on the partner of reading… writing!
After publishing his first book, Thai-riffic! in 2010, Oliver Phommavanh hasn’t stopped and now has no fewer than TEN books to his name. Each one is a tummy-tickling look at some serious issues through a funny lens.
If you don’t want to take our word for it that anything written by Oliver Phommavanh is worth searching out, listen to the fact that he has been listed in the K.O.A.L.A Hall of Fame. KOALA stands for Kids Own Australian Literature Awards and what this means is that anyone on the K.O.A.L.A. list has been put there by kids.
Oliver is also a role model for Books in Homes and a number of other charitable organisations aiming to promote literacy for all.
So, how exactly does Oliver Phommavanh continue to come up with his writing ideas – ten books later?
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
I usually draw ideas from my childhood, mixed with observations of kids from when I used to be a primary school teacher. [Hint: if you were ever taught by Oliver Phommavanh, you might want to see if you’re in his books!]
What are your tips for when kids’ minds go blank when they have to write something at school? Or at home?
Start with what you love. What kind of things do you really enjoy doing for fun?
Which of your books holds that special place in your heart, and why?
Thai-riffic! It was my first book, as well as being a straight reflection of myself as a child, wanting to be different and rebel against my parents.
You’re only allowed to choose one – which of your characters is your favourite and why?
Connor from Con-nerd and Super Con-nerd. He is a nerd just like me and he wants to follow his creative dreams. He is another version of me as a child, and a perfect example of following your dreams and convincing others (like family) that you can make it happen.
What do you want children to feel when they read your books? What do you want them to gain?
I want them to be joyful and laugh. But I also want them to gain an understanding of Asian-Australian cultures, as well as what it’s like to be different and weird.
You can find out so much more about Oliver Phommavanh (including how to pronounce his surname) on his website. Take a look because it’s jam-packed full of facts about him, his books and what inspired his books! You can also find out more about Oliver on Instagram and Facebook.
If you’d like to book Oliver Phommavanh for a school visit, you can find him through The Children’s Bookshop Speakers’ Agency if you’re in NSW, or Booked Out Speakers’ Agency if you’re outside of NSW.
Like Oliver Phommavanh, every author puts a little bit of themselves into every book they write. Check out the other fabulous author, illustrator and storyteller interviews here and be inspired by what inspires them.