A few years I wrote an article about Bill (a prolific New Zealand children’s author) for Magpies, which summarised his writing career to that time. Three years later it’s interesting to re-visit Bill and find out what he’s been doing lately in the indie market.
In 2015 he self-published three junior novels in print and e-book format. Cauliflower Ears is a quirky story about teamwork and fair play within the setting of a juniors’ rugby tournament (reviewed in Magpies vol. 31 no.1, March 2016).
The next book was Emily’s Penny Dreadful, reviewed in the same issue of Magpies. It’s another quirky story that works on several layers – as a story-within-a-story, and as a humorous examination of the joys (and problems) of being a writer. When Emily is forced to give up her bedroom to her temporarily homeless aunt and uncle (who’s a writer), she is most upset. Her uncle’s old and valuable Penny Dreadful magazine inspires her to write her own story about a feisty Victorian girl who’s kidnapped and forced to work in a match factory. The two girl heroines, the playful language, and the large blocks of dialogue would suit intermediate-aged girls more than boys, particularly those who have their own interest in writing stories.
The third novel was The Houdini Effect which draws on Bill’s interest in prestidigitation. Athens (another self-confessed young writer) is drawn into helping her younger brother with his Houdini-like escape trick. But she is far more concerned about a supernatural event – the old mirrors in her parents’ house (a renovation project) keep showing spooky photos of the couple who used to own the house. Athens vows to figure out what’s going on. This apparently light-hearted mystery carefully blends in several serious themes, such as relationships within marriage. Its clever girl protagonist and the cunning wordplay make it most suitable for intermediate-aged girls.
Bill’s most recent publication is an easy-read print book called Egghead and Other Surprises. It’s an anthology of poetry and humorous short stories for primary-aged children (7 and up). Most of the works were originally published in the School Journal, the New South Wales School Journal, and an assortment of anthologies.
The books are available from online retail shops such as Amazon, Createspace, and Wheelers, and most also come in e-book format.
Emily’s Penny Dreadful: ISBN 978 1530284689 RRP US$6.75 Pb
The Houdini Effect: ISBN 978 1530498628 RRP US$8.50 Pb
Egghead and Other Surprises: ISBN 978 1535371292 RRP US$6.10 Pb
Written by Lorraine Orman