When he is not writing disgustingly epic books for kids, Mick Elliott is a producer at Nickelodeon Australia, working on programmes such as SLIMEFEST, CAMP ORANGE, SLIME CUP, THE KIDS’ CHOICE AWARDS, PLAY ALONG WITH OLLIE and squillions of commercials.
He is currently hatching a brand new bunch of stories to unleash very soon.
In his spare time, you will usually find him sleeping, eating, jogging, farting or tinkering with his DIY nuclear booger bazooka. Sometimes all at once.
INFREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE THE TURNERS?
I wished that I head read more books when I was a kid. So I wanted to write that book that I would have loved to read when I was 11.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
Apart from the privilege of collaborating with lots of clever people who are involved in the process of creating books, its definitely seeing how readers embrace your stories. Writing is a very solitary process, so it is always a delight to meet readers of all ages and discover how they have enjoyed your ideas.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT WRITING A BOOK?
The re-writing, probably. The first draft is usually pretty messy, with lots of ideas still floating around that don't necessarily work. Its only in the re-writing process that the story really starts to come to the surface as you peel away all the ideas (and sometimes whole chapters) that don't actually keep the story moving.
That and simply finding the time in between everything else in life.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE?
I don't really have a dedicated writing space or time, so I tend to just write whenever and wherever I can. Much of THE TURNERS series was written on trains, buses, at the kitchen table or sitting in bed.
I was also lucky enough to spend a week at the Varuna Writers' House in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales when I was writing the first book. It is an amazing writers' retreat, where I was able to think about nothing but Leo and his many hair-raising adventures.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO WRITE A BOOK?
Firstly, know exactly who you are writing for. If it is for kids, then what age group is it for? Is it for boys or girls, or both? What is the genre? Think about all these things as you start to plot out your ideas, then read as many books as you can for the same audience.
While I was writing THE TURNERS, I literally read hundreds of books for the same age group (kids 9 - 12) and it gave me a strong sense of tone, pacing, language and also conventions of the genre.
Also, expect it to be both exhilarating and exhausting. Just getting a first draft written is a huge achievement. But it is only when you have the first bunch of words on the page that you can really start to carve the story out. That takes time, patience and persistence.
The first TURNERS book took four years to get to a point where I felt like it was strong enough to submit to publishers.
IF YOU COULD TURN INTO ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
That's a hard question because I have had to think A LOT about all the different animals that Leo turns into during the TURNERS books. I'd have to say probably an owl, because they are kind of noble, they can fly, they can turn their head around to look behind them and they get to stay up all night.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS?
I love Roald Dahl, particularly his biographies, BOY and GOING SOLO. I am a big fan of Derek Landy's SKULLDUGGERY PLEASANT series which have such a strong balance of action, humour and fantasy with excellent characters driving the plot along. Trenton Lee Stewart's THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is one of the best series for upper primary readers. Its pretty much perfection.
And of course, I love Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's TREEHOUSE series; Jeff Kinney's WIMPY KID series and I've just started reading TOM GATES which is absolutely hilarious.
WHAT IS THE NAUGHTIEST THING YOU EVER DID AS A KID?
I used to hide rubber animals in my grandmother's bed whenever she visited. Spiders mostly. I had a whole variety of them in different sizes. I branched out into other species though. Snakes. Bugs. Once I put a small plastic turtle in her sheets and she didn't notice until the middle of the night when it was embedded halfway into her back.
She actually seemed to encourage my mischief though.
I think that sense of mischievousness runs in my family. I still find it hard to take anything too seriously, even as a supposedly grown adult.
WHAT ACTOR WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
Nobody! That would be a terrible movie. Nobody would go and see it. It was just be me sitting at a laptop mumbling to myself and getting up now and again to go to the toilet.