As a kid I went through ups and downs with my reading. My mum and grandfather were very encouraging but there were times I struggled to read regularly. My brothers and I were quite active kids so we spent most of our free time playing sport or riding through the bush on our BMXs or nearly injuring ourselves on the next door neighbours’ wildly unsafe trampoline.
Luckily my school librarian was an expert in book matchmaking. She got me reading Goosebumps, choose-your-own-adventure and Adrian Mole (mainly because we shared the same name). But it wasn’t till late in my primary school years that I really got addicted to reading. And that was thanks to an author who was equal parts unreal, unbelievable and uncanny…. There were a few years there that I read Paul Jennings exclusively. I loved his humorous yet often heartfelt stories. Suddenly I was lost inside the story, like I’d never been before. And these days, I aim to write books that grab kids in exactly the same way.
I wrote the Champion Charlies to explore the idea of unlikely friendships. It was important to me to feature the timeless theme that what makes us different doesn’t have to divide us, but can actually make us stronger. Plus, I wanted to have fun! I stuck a post it note to my wall that said: ‘Football meets Funny’. This became my mission statement. Sport should be fun! I was determined to portray that through the humour in the books.
I’d like to think that Champion Charlies might reach kids who don’t often pick up a book. But I also hope that kids who are big readers might delve into the series and be inspired to get active as well. I want all young readers to get lost in my stories, like I did when I first read Paul Jennings. And there’s no better feeling than when I visit schools and get questions from kids who clearly love the books I’ve written. To me that’s like kicking a goal at the World Cup! Of course, I refrain from running around celebrating with my shirt pulled over my head!