So how did I get this gig? Well, I’m not proud. I’m willing to admit I was the Guest of Honour to Be Named Later. Last Minute actually. TV actor Simon Westaway was the original choice and when he had to cancel, the rush was on to find someone arts-related who would come to Grenfell at extremely short notice. My sister, who lives on a small farm in the area, happened to mention me. Even if she wasn’t the best sister in the world this would have immediately earned her the dedication in Shaolin Tiger!‘My sister is an author,” she said. “And she visits here all the time.”
So there I was, pretending to be a famous person of literary note. Crowning the beauty queens. Cutting the ribbon. Keynote speaker at the dinner. Presenting trophies and medallions. Conducting TV interviews. Chatting with the writers from Underbelly who were accepting a scriptwriting award.Grenfell opened its heart to welcome me. I think the townspeople were sort of proud that I had a local connection. I might not have been the ilk of the previous guests yet I was an honorary ‘one of their own.”
But my really big moment was absolutely huge. It’s one of the highlights of my writing career. I was sitting on the official dais (trying to look official and literary!) watching the street parade. Around the corner came a local primary school all dressed up as my Samurai Kids. Banging gongs and waving swords and banners. They marched down the main street and when they reached the dais their teacher yelled “Stop”. “Yes Sensei,” they responded.Then they turned to face me and bowed, Japanese style.
I stood and bowed too. And I bawled my eyes out. To be honest, I bawled my eyes out again writing this. It’s still such a vivid and emotional memory.There are many times when I am asked why I don’t write proper books. Books for adults or older readers. Well one day I might write those too but in writing for kids, I am totally fulfilled. I do write proper books. The people who ask that question don’t understand the craft of writing for children. And they certainly don’t understand how wonderful young readers can make their authors feel. It’s real magic.
[First published Persnickety Snark March 2009]