Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Questions from Nords Wharf Public School

What gave you the idea to write  the Grim and Grimmer series?

I wanted to write something different from the kinds of books I’ve been writing in the past. This time I wanted to write books that were great adventures, with terrific characters, but I also wanted them to be funny. And that was hard, because I’ve never written humorous books before.

 And it was a bit frightening too. What if I wrote the first book and it wasn’t funny? That would be really embarrassing.

What sort of things inspire you?

Everything inspires me. I’m interested in the whole world and everything in it. I love learning about new things. The thought of strange lands that I know nothing about inspires me, and the unusual customs of the people who live there, and the amazing animals and plants. But most of all, I’m inspired by the incredible things that ordinary people can do when they’re put into dangerous situations that they have to get themselves out of by their own courage and strength, their cleverness and daring.

I love writing stories about people like that. People who aren’t natural heroes.

Have you liked books since you were young and what sort of books did you read?

My Mum taught me to read when I was four, before I went to school, and I’ve loved books ever since. When I was in lower primary school (a very long time ago) I read most of the books in the school library. After that I read everything I could get my hands on. Books for boys and books for girls, adventure stories, romance, crime stories and stories about war and space exploration, voyages to the bottom of the sea, stories about heroes and pirates. Plus all kinds of non-fiction books about machines and secret codes, and history and mythology, everything!

I’m still interested in just about everything. I think, to be the best writer, one has to be always reading and learning new things. You never know where your next idea is going to come from.

 I think the “Headless Highwayman” is a sad story. Why did you write a sad story?

I don’t think of this book as a sad story. I think it’s inspirational, because Ike starts out as a boy with nothing: no friends and no family. He’s bottom of the class, useless at sport and no good at anything. “Useless Ike” they call him, and he certainly makes a lot of dumb mistakes. He’s reckless and never things before he acts. He gets into awful trouble and suffers a lot, but by the end of the story he’s made a wonderful friend, Mellie and he’s had terrific adventures,. Ike has discovered great courage in himself, and perseverance, and also realised that he’s good at some things he’s never expected. And he’s rescued the princess. He’s a real hero.

By the end of the book Ike still has a long way to go, but he’s greatly changed and deserves all the success he’s got. And I think that’s inspiring.

I’ve loved writing the Grim and Grimmer books, especially the last one, The Calamitous Queen, which has just been published. You can read the first chapters on my website:

I'd love to hear about any more questions you have.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Calamitous Queen Blog Tour

Hi Everyone,

Over the next few weeks I'm blog touring for The Calamitous Queen, the fourth and final book of my humorous fantasy series for younger readers (and older ones still young at heart), Grim and Grimmer. It's published by Scholastic Australia, http://www.scholastic.com.au/ and http://onyabus.blogspot.com/ and you can read the first chapters here, http://www.ian-irvine.com/calamitousqueen_ch1.html 

Emajicka is marching on Grimmery with an army of a million Fey. Can things possibly get worse?

Yes, they can, for Ike is all alone. Mellie has gone, attempting to pull off the perfect crime. Lord Monty is at war with his reattached head. The beautiful sprite Mothooliel wants to steal Ike’s eyeballs, and Grogire the firewyrm plans to kill him in the most disgusting way.

Can Pook and Ike free the Collected children? Will Ike discover the secret of the Gate Guardians and clear his parents’ names in time to save Grimmery? Or will Spleen and Nuckl finally feast on Ike’s innards?

Brace yourselves for a wild ride.

  • "Fast and furious and very funny." Reading Time
  • "The funniest horror story you'll read in a long while." Good Reading
  • "Very funny, as well as dangerous, gory and grotty." Aussiereviews.com
  • "Funny and fast paced. Recommended." Bookseller and Publisher.
  • "The fun explodes off every page." Richard Harland, international bestselling author ofWorldshakerwww.richardharland.net
  • "A wonderful tale. Delightfully dark and delicious." Jacq Ellem,www.hittheroadjacq.com
  • "I gasped and laughed my way through these three books." Dee White, Kids' Book Capers.

For blurbs, covers and first chapters for the series, see http://www.ian-irvine.com/grimgrimmer.html 


May 27, 2011
Gabrielle Wang’s Blog
How writers work
June 6, 2011
Ian Irvine

Introducing the Calamitous Queen blog tour
June 7, 2011
Nords Wharf Public School
Questions from students
June 8, 2011
Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook

Literacy and writing
June 9, 2011
Catriona Hoy

Humour and writing
June 10, 2011
Kid’s Book Capers – Dee White

Review of book and interview
June 11, 2011
Sally Murphy

The exciting (or otherwise) life of a writer
June 12, 2001
Claire Saxby

FFF(fun, fantasy, fiction): mix and stire (or how it all comes together)
June 13, 2011
Alison Reynolds

Why Ian wrote this book
June 14, 2011
Dee White (deescribewriting blog)Tuesday Writing Tips

Tips on how to finish a series
15 June 2011
St Joseph’s Primary School

Questions from students
16 June 2011
Sheryl Gwyther
The 10 Best Things about writing 'Grim and Grimmer' + Things that Almost Drove You Nuts!
17 June 2011
Braemar College,
Christine Wilson
Questions from students
18 June, 2011
Writing Children's Books with Robyn Opie

The How-to's of Writing a Series
19 June 2011
Angela Sunde

Where Ian's ideas for the series came from and how he knew there would be four books in it

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ian's blog tour itinerary

Hi Year 6

Here's my full blog touring itinerary.


Ian Irvine

January 15, 2011                   
Ripping Ozzie Reads              Book Promotion

March 9, 2011                         http://angusandrobertsonedwardstown.blogspot.com/
A&R Edwardstown                On Writing Children’s Fiction

March 21, 2011                      http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog/
Kid’s Book Capers                 Review and giveaway

March 22, 2011                      http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com
Dee Scribe                               Writing Ike’s Character

March 23, 2011                      http://bloggingwithianirvine.blogspot.com/
Our Lady Of Lourdes School General Writing

March 23, 2011                      http://tristanbancksflow.blogspot.com/
Tristan Banck’s Blog              Creative Process/Workspace

March 24                                http://www.kids-bookreview.com/
Kid’s Book reviews                Top 10 Writing Tips

March 28, 2011                      http://www.robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/ 
Robyn Campbell                     About the writing life and this book

March 28, 2011                      http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/literary-clutter-blog/
George Ivanoff                        10 things I enjoyed most about writing this book

March 31, 2011                      http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/literary-clutter-blog/
George Ivanoff                        10 things I found hardest about writing this book

April 6, 2011                          http://dcgreenyarns.blogspot.com/
DC Green                                Where the character and story ideas came from

April 11, 2011                         www.buginabook.com
Bug in a Book

General Questions

Hi Everyone, thanks for those great questions, and here are my answers.

•   We noticed you had a contest on your Facebook page for naming a character in a book. Where do you come up with names for your characters?

I find characters' names in all sorts of places, but I always try to make the name appropriate to the character. For example, dwarves live underground and are great miners and masons, so all their names are based on rock types, like the sly conman Con Glomryt (conglomerate), the disembodied head Shizzt (schist) and the hard-as-nails dwarf leader, Ob Sidyan (obsidian, an extremely hard rock). 

Among the goblins, there is the wicked Aigo (an anagram of the evil character Iago from Shakespeare's play Othello, and his girlfriend Clangour (which means very loud, when she is exactly the opposite, being shy, quiet and nervous). And the goblin king's pet white rat, called Kegg, who makes cheese puns all the time. Kegg was the name of my daughter's favourite pet rat. 

Various demons are named after parts of the body, like the imp Nuckl (suggests anger or violence), his big sister the demon Spleen (rage, malice, spite), and their enormous big brother, whom I enjoyed giving the silly name, Tonsil.

And then there's the hero, Ike. People call him Useless Ike because he can't do anything right, so I gave him a name that was the exact opposite, Isaac Newton, after the greatest scientific genius that ever lived. Though in the end it turns out to not be opposite after all, because once Ike finds confidence in himself he discovers that he can do all kinds of clever things.

But sometimes names just come to me, like Mellie's name, Melliflua di Sorrowgrove. I just made it up as I was writing about her and the name was perfect.

•   What books did you enjoy reading as a child?

I'm so incredibly old that you might not have heard of any of the books I read as a child. I remember enjoying Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, and I read lots of Biggles books about a famous flying ace in both the First and Second World Wars, and his life fighting crime afterwards. And a book called The Wreckers of Pengarth about several children who discover a tunnel down to the sea used by wreckers who lured ships onto the rocks so they could steal the cargo after the ships were wrecked. But actually, I read anything and everything. I loved books and reading from before I went to school. Mum taught me to read when i was very small.

•   Out of the 27 novels novels you have published, do you have a favourite? If so, what is it? When you write a book, do you generally reread it once it is published?

Sometimes my favourite book is the first one I ever wrote, which is called A Shadow on the Glass. I wrote it more than 20 years ago and I still feel sentimental about it, because I'd never written a story before, and I spent years writing it. I did 22 drafts of the book, and it's a 200,000 word book, so I lived with that book for a very long time!

But at the moment, my favourite book is The Calamitous Queen, the fourth and last book of Grim and Grimmer, which will be published in June. It's really fresh in my mind because I just corrected the proof copy yesterday (the proof copy is a copy of the book printed out to look the way it will be when it's a finished book). I really enjoyed reading it, because there are some really good characters, and lots of exciting moments, and some great tricks and revelations, too. And quite a few laughs.

I never read a book of mine after it's published. I guess by that time I've spent so much time on each book that I'm a bit sick of it. When I need to check facts for the next book in the series, I do that on the computer file. But I am looking forward to re-reading my first series of books soon. It's been 12 years since I read any of them and I'm hoping that I'll have forgotten enough that I can read them afresh.

•   Do you have any advice about how to start thinking creatively once you've run out of ideas? What do you do when you get writer's block?

To be honest, I never run out of ideas. I have enough ideas for about five lifetimes. And I can't say that I've ever had writer's block, though I often get to a stage where I think that what I'm writing is a load of old rubbish.

What I do then is ask myself questions. For instance, if the hero is in trouble but it's the same kind of trouble he's been in before, I might ask, How can I make this different? Or, how can I make things worse for the hero, because the worse things get for the characters, the more fun it is for the reader. Or I might think, when is the WORST time for things to get worse for the hero? If he or she has a friend or ally, I take the friend away, send him to hospital or have him get lost in the forest. Or I cause a fight between them, or have his friend disagree with what the hero wants to do. There are all sorts of ways to change ordinary, dull writing into a fresh, interesting story.

•   How old were you when you wrote your first book? When did you decide you could be a full-time author?

I was 37. I hadn't really done any writing before that, and when I started it was incredibly hard work for the first half of the book because I didn't have the faintest idea what i was doing. I also knew at that moment (halfway through the book) that I wanted to be a storyteller, though it wasn't for many years after that I realised I could be a full-time author. At the time I began writing, 1987, there were hardly any full-time writers in Australia, and it wasn't until my first 4 books come out, in the series called The View from the Mirror, and sold well both in Australia and a number of other countries, that i realised i could write for a living.

•   Is there another author who has influenced your writing?

There are many writers I really like, such as Tolkien, Ursula le Guin and JK Rowling, who have certainly influenced me to write fantasy, but I don't imitate other writers. In fact I try not to write like other writers because I want to tell my own kinds of stories as best I can. 

•   As your books are fantasy, do you travel and base places on locations your visit or do you just use your imagination?

 I mainly use my imagination, but I have also travelled very widely in Australia and the world. For example, I've been to almost every state in the USA, and most of the provinces of Canada, and I've also travelled widely in Europe and worked in a dozen countries in Asia and the Pacific Islands. So i've seen a lot, and met a lot of people, and learned about all kinds of different cultures and societies. This has certainly helped to give me a broad outlook to draw from when I'm writing, though i don't base anything directly on what I've seen. I always change what I'm writing to suit the story.

If you have any comments or opinions about my books, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

General writing questions..

Ian, we have some questions about writing in general and just about being an author. These are some of them:

  • We noticed you had a contest on your Facebook page for naming a character in a book. Where do you come up with names for your characters?
  • What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
  • Out of the 27 novels novels you have published, do you have a favourite? If so, what is it? When you write a book, do you generally reread it once it is published?
  • Do you have any advice about how to start thinking creatively once you've run out of ideas? What do you do when you get writer's block?
  • How old were you when you wrote your first book? When did you decide you could be a full-time author?
  • Is there another author who has influenced your writing?
  • As your books are fantasy, do you travel and base places on locations your visit or do you just use your imagination?

Blogging with Ian Irvine

Year 6 at OLOL are thrilled to be part of Ian Irvine's Blog Tour. We have been reading The Desperate Dwarf and have so many questions!