May 13

Authors write to Aquinas

David Lovegrove

Drawing is one of the most ancient human forms of expression and it is just as relevant for us in the 21st Century as it was 40,000 years ago.

The ability to draw well can open up many opportunities for work in cool industries like games, film and TV, comics, manga, graphic novel creation, fantasy art production and fine art.

David 1 copyThe best way to approach becoming an artist is with the same attitude you would take to becoming a concert pianist, a rock star, a professional sportsperson – set yourself to train for hours every day, rain hail or shine.

Copy the best people’s work and dissect their methods of working.

Seek out very high level teachers if possible – two brilliant schools are the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney and The Atelier in Brisbane.

Watch tutorials online at

Read and draw from good How to books about Comics, manga and art ( see your librarians!)

David 2 copy

I have always tried to stay humble no matter what I have achieved as an artist.

Becoming overly self important and impressed with your own art is a sure way to become mediocre – always aim higher, always listen to others tips and criticisms ( but always take criticism with a grain of salt- some people just like to say something critical because it makes them feel important).

Believe in yourself, have big dreams and don’t let them go.

Leonardo Da Vinci wrote in his diary – “ Don’t pity the humble painter – what he has in his mind he soon has in his hand!”

Good luck and have fun!

Regards, David Lovegrove Youtube and Facebook – David Lovegrove Art

David Lovegrove copy

Paul Griffin

In July 2012, U.S. author Paul Griffin visited Aquinas College. Now the winner of many awards for his writing, Paul wrote 24 books over 20 years before being published! In the meantime, he gathered life experience as a builder’s labourer, a cook and even a dish washer/kitchen hand beside Vin Diesel. In an absolutely inspirational talk, Paul told our students that it was at times hard going, sleeping rough in buildings he was working on and facing challenges in self belief. His best job, he said, besides training dogs, has been being a teacher, working with teens in trouble, or in prison, trying to prevent violence and the spread of AIDS/HIV. He told students to set goals for themselves; have something to aim for that will see them through the tough times. Paul’s books are very authentic because his depth of real life experience provides a lot of source material for his writing. We’d like to thank Text Publishing for bringing Paul from New York to Aquinas! Thank you SO MUCH! It was huge!

Paul sent this message to Aquinas students after his visit:

“Thank you all for letting me hang out with you. You’re remarkable, each of you, and my dream is to see your dreams come true. When you finish up your years at Aquinas, you’re going to confront not problems but challenges. On your journey to living out your dreams, people are going to try to knock you down. This much is certain. To pretend otherwise is unwise. Keep your eyes, ears and most of all your heart open, and don’t get down. Get up. Pick yourself up and ask yourself if you still feel your dream in your heart. If you do, then you must go forward and pursue that which makes you happiest. You can do it. You will do it. The scene that I read you from Stay With Me is an example of letting your passions get away from you; letting somebody knock you off your path. Feeling passionate is a gift, but channeling that passion to your purpose is the greatest gift. Every day, do something to bring yourselves a step closer to your dreams. Even ten minutes a day put toward your dream will, after even just a few months, add up, and you will find yourself closer to your goal. I’m keeping the Aquinas crew in my heart, and I’m wishing you peace and light. Your friend, Paul Griffin”

Here’s a clip about one of his novels, ‘Stay With Me’:

Read more about Paul Griffin on his website, and borrow ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘Ten Mile River’ from our Library – F GRI.

Here’s another clip of Paul Griffin visiting a school in the US:

Richard Harland brings Steampunk to Aquinas

I asked Richard Harland if he’d tell me about the spark of inspiration that led to the creation of both ‘World shaker’ and ‘Liberator’. Here’s what he said:


“The story of Worldshaker began with a couple of dreams ten years before I began writing the novel.

The first came after I’d fallen in love with the labyrinthine castle and gloomy gothic world of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. I’d been so frustrated that the third book in the trilogy left the castle behind and moved off in a new direction! In my dream, I was browsing the books in a strange spiral library and discovered the Mervyn Peake section—and a third Gormenghast book which wasn’t the one he actually wrote but the one I’d wanted him to write. I devoured every page, absorbed it through and through … and when I woke up, I was all ready to write out the whole story. But by the time I’d found paper and pen, it had all melteed melted away. No setting, no characters, no events, nothing! All that remained were the feelings it had given me. From that time on, I longed to write a novel that would live up to those feelings!

The second dream came a few months later. I was in a dark room, crouched over a slot-like hole in the middle of an iron floor. Far below, I could see a greenish light and signs of movement. I couldn’t believe it when someone told me thousands of people lived down there. Then, somehow, I tumbled into the hole, dropping down, down, down. I passed countless decks like wire racks, no further apart than cupboard shelves. Human beings crawled around on those racks, dirty, half-naked and malnourished. I was horrified and at the same time frightened. Would they attack when I reached the bottom? Even tear me apart and eat me?

I woke up before I found out. But that dream gave me the idea of a metal, mechanical world like a vast moving castle – the world of the juggernaut ‘Worldshaker’. And the dream actually appears in the novel—it’s what happens to the main character, Col, in Chapter 26.

Liberator didn’t need a separate starting point, it grew naturally out of Worldshaker. I think it’s the first ever time I’ve written a sequel that’s better than book one!”
Richard Harland


Richard Newsome on Writing

Writing is easy. Ideas are hard.
For me, the act of writing is really just describing. I get a notion in my head of how a scene is going to play out, sort of like having a video playing in a loop on the back on my eyeballs. Then I just describe what I see. Person A runs from here to there; they say this thing to person B; person B reacts really badly; A and B argue; some issue is resolved.
The really difficult part is coming up with the ideas in the first place. I was once asked how I managed to cram so many different ideas into a book. I wasn’t consciously aware that I had, but I guess I like to know how things work and why people do the bizarre things they do. So when it comes to writing a book, I need to have an explanation for every character’s motivation. Someone can’t be bad just for the sake of being bad. There must be a reason underlying that badness. So I like to explore what that reason might be. That leads to more rounded characters but also to a more satisfying story. And it helps generate ideas along the way.
Most books are based on one very simple idea, which the author then teases out and explores in depth. Take Harry Potter. It’s a story of good versus evil, of vengeance and of choices. Harry could easily have gone across to the ‘dark side’ very early on in the first book. But he didn’t. Why is that? JK Rowling then spent the next six and a half books exploring that question, and some amazing ideas were generated in the process.
So if you’re writing your own stories, start with a simple set-up. Say, computer geek is selected to play on the football team. Think of the back-story for all the characters who are likely to inhabit that tale. Think why each character acts the way they do. Then mix it up and have some fun.
Best of luck!
Richard Newsome

John MarsdenJohn Marsden writes about ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’

Hi to all the Aquinas readers!

Ms Kirkland has asked me to say a few words about ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’. So here are my few words. When I was growing up I read a lot of stuff about World War II, and kept wondering what would have happened if Japan had invaded Australia. For one thing, I probably would never have been born, but I did wonder how I would cope if someone invaded us. In real life, probably not very well, but my fantasies were a different story. That’s the whole point of having fantasies of course!

I was also interested in writing a story set in the bush and on farms, as those settings seemed to have disappeared from books in recent years. And I was interested in writing a book that showed teenagers as (I think) they really are, instead of the unpleasant ways they are usually depicted in tabloids and on those boring current affairs television shows.

Once I started really caught up in the action, but also in the development of the characters. I never knew what was going to happen next, and it was fun trying to find solutions for the problems and traps I had created for Ellie and her friends. I realised more and more as I wrote the books that the essence of all novels is that they pose problems and then attempt to solve them. And of course neat slick solutions are never satisfactory, because in real life there are no neat slick solutions…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the book, and even some of its sequels perhaps.

All the very best, John Marsden


Kate Hunter talks about ‘Mosquito Advertising’

Mrs O: How did you come up with the idea for your series ‘Mosquito Advertising’?

Kate: The idea behind Mosquito Advertising had been swimming around in my mind for many years, but it only took form as a book in 2008.

Six years before that, though, when I was home with my first baby, I thought a show about ads being made by non-advertising people would be fun, so I wrote up the idea and took it to the Seven Network. They agreed it had potential and made a pilot (a test episode). But the concept was not appealing to advertising agencies, because the show revealed all their secrets!
So my idea morphed into a story – which was great because I realised that a story doesn’t need a network, or a production company or anything but an idea and some time. And no matter what anyone says, there is always time for something you really, really want to do.mosquito advertising

At first, writing Mosquito Advertising was difficult because I was unaccustomed to writing anything that takes longer than 30 seconds to read aloud, but I had a keen publisher and a serious deadline, so I kept going.

It’s been a long time since I was thirteen, but I remember that time clearly and mostly with happiness. I also remember the books I loved – Enid Blyton made a huge impression on me – particularly The Naughtiest Girl In The School series. I read the first one when I was eight but was probably secretly re-reading them for years. In the end, I just wrote the kind of book I would have liked to read. The characters are mostly hybrids of people I met and worked with. Some I just made up. No one is based purely on a real person.


My main motivation to write a sequel to Mosquito Advertising, The Parfizz Pitch was that I’d said I would. There was no getting out of it. Like Katie Crisp, I’m a big one for imagining things are easier than they appear.

But once I was into it, it seemed that the characters I had created became real, and I was curious about what they would do next. Advertising agencies grow, change and even shrink over time and Mosquito Advertising is like any other agency. Only with its office in a backyard.

Overnight success does funny things to people – I wanted to explore how Katie would handle it. How it would affect her relationships – both with her family and her mates and how she would juggle her passion for advertising with the pressures of school.

It’s also fun for me to write ads as Katie and the rest of the gang; to imagine what I would do if I had the opportunity to work on a dog food account and an airline. What would the people who ran those businesses be like? Why would they do what they do?

As a writer, I wanted to create a bigger book – not in terms of word count but in terms of action and relationships. There’s a death. A romance. A fight. In many ways, it was a challenging book to write, but I think because of that it’ll be a fun one to read.
Kate Hunter

launchChristine Bongers talks about ‘Henry Hoey Hobson’

Mrs O.: Christine, you’ve said that HHH brewed for a long time as an idea before you wrote the book. Who did you write the book for, and what inspired the story?

Henry Hoey Hobson is for anyone who ever missed out on the A-team, anyone who ever feared they might not fit in, anyone who’d like to be accepted simply for being him or herself. It was inspired by kids (and some grown-ups) who make me laugh, who never give up, who show courage in the face of adversity and kindness to strangers.

When I wrote it, I used all kinds of experiences from my own life: the little Catholic school at the end of my street, the local swim club, and even a Halloween party celebrated by Brisbane’s fantasy writers with drinks around a coffin! The story came together in my head as a three-way collision between close-knit groups with seemingly nothing in common, and a boy who doesn’t fit in.

When kids go through tough times, funnily enough, humour helps. So when I wrote Henry Hoey Hobson I quite purposefully used humour to explore serious questions around what makes kids resilient. It’s about never giving in, having supportive family and friends, and the courage to be yourself and accepting of others (even if those Others move in with a coffin …)

Forget the A-team – read Henry Hoey Hobson and join Team Triple H – it’s heaps more fun!

Cheers, Chris B

Susanne GervaySusanne Gervay – ‘Butterflies’

Mrs O: “Susanne, what was your inspiration for writing ‘Butterflies’?

Susanne: I found teen and young adult years hard sometimes. I was searching for who I am, felt insecure, easily crushed inside, but tried not to show it. My parents were post war refugees and  I couldn’t speak about my real feelings to them. They worked so hard and did it for me.

I was approached by a girl who had serious burns. She asked me to write about growing up with burns. I didn’t want to do it. However I kept thinking about it. I ended up talking to kids, parents, community, medical teams. I visited the Burn Unit in the kids’ hospital. Tnen I  knew I had to write  ‘Butterflies’. Although it’s about burns, it’s more than that. It’s about growing up, my family, about all of us meeting challenges, finding identity, fighting for our dreams.  It’s my story, your story, our story.

I risk myself when I write. I put who I am inside the pages as a girl, a teen, mother. I cry when I write some parts, laugh at others. It’s an emotional roller coaster that I’m often scared to jump onto to. However when I get emails like this, it’s a roller coaster that I’m glad I went on:-


This is truly an amazing book, so moving and inspiring. I read it many years ago and an assignment just came up in English, I knew straight away this book was going to be perfect for it. It is so hard to put down and really made me realise that my life really isn’t that bad. I would have to say this would be one of my all time favourite books.

babestar88 1 week ago

From youtube channel for Butterflies:



Susanne Gervay

Steve ColeSteve Cole – ‘Thieves Like Us’

I had the opportunity recently to meet the fabulous Steve Cole (AKA Stephen Cole) author of the ‘Thieves Like Us’ and ‘Wereling’ series, AKA author of Dr Who books, voice of the Dialects, imaginative and witty lunch guest…
I wondered how someone who looked so young could have accomplished so much! And where did he get his brilliant ideas from? So here’s his reply:

“I’ve been a full-time writer for eight years now, but it still surprises me how stories come together. There’s that famous saying – one idea leads to another. But I find one idea leads to another and then goes onto find another couple of ideas and drags them along to the party too.

It certainly worked that way with THIEVES LIKE US, a YA novel I dreamed up a few years back. I was thinking about master-criminals (as you do) and wondering how they manage as they get older. You don’t often find old age pensioners robbing banks, escaping down the street on crutches. Then I imagined that sensible master criminals would employ younger crooks to do the jobs for them. And of course, they’d need specialists in different fields, depending on the crime in hand. I had lots of fun dreaming up five characters and the unfortunate things that had messed up their lives to put them in this position.

A band of teenage criminals working for a mysterious master planner sounded like fun, but I wanted them to be likeable characters, so that suggested they couldn’t commit nasty, petty offences. They’d have to do big crimes against even bigger criminals. And maybe there could be a supernatural twist to their capers? I remembered reading that there are actually 13 signs of the zodiac, not 12, but that no one ever mentions the 13th sign, named Ophiuchus (if you’re born between November 29th and December 18th you are NOT a Sagittarian – you’re actually an Ophiuchun!). That sounded a bit
spooky and exploring the shadowy reasons why became the basis of the first adventure for my gang of thieves.

So the idea of an old looper doing over banks led in the end to the creation of some of my favourite characters and three of my favourite books. So be kind to an idea when it pops into your head, no matter how silly it might seem at first. If you can just work out what to DO with that idea, it could change your life!” Steve Cole

lucychristopherLucy Christopher talks about ‘Stolen’

Two students in Ms Butler’s Year 8 English class are presently making a book trailer for Lucy Christopher’s novel ‘Stolen’. We asked Lucy a couple of questions about her novel. Here are her answers:

What made you choose the Australian outback as your location for ‘Stolen’?

“I’ve always wanted to write a book set in the Australian Outback. I’ve been obsessed with this landscape for as long as I can remember! I’ve travelled there quite a few times, first on camping trips when I was a young person, then on a camel expedition when I finished school, and later, as an adult when I was researching this book.  I’ve always been simultaneously terrified by this land, but also hopelessly in love with it. These are two powerful emotions to play with in writing – fear and love.  I tried to echo these emotions when I wrote about Gemma’s feelings about Ty too. For me the outback is a ‘charged landscape’, and these things are always good to write about.”stolen2

Even though Ty has kidnapped Gemma and we know that is wrong, it’s hard to believe that he’s entirely evil. What do you believe it is that has brought Ty to this point?

“There is no doubt that Ty is a troubled individual. He is not an intrinsically evil person, however, and I believe that it is his life experiences that have caused him to become who he is.  He is essentially a character who yearns for a sense of belonging and connection. I think this stems from his traumatic upbringing of being forcibly removed from his home and in not having any meaningful and loving relationships at an early age.  He is trying to find belonging and meaning in his life in whatever way he can.  The only belonging and meaning he seems to be able to find in his life is in his connection to land.  The desert was the only place he ever felt comfortable, happy and free as a child. The desert is his escape, his safe place … the place that made him feel free instead of confined.  Rather ironically, when he forces Gemma into this place he is trying to impart upon her its sense of freedom and safety that he feels there.”

Watch this space for the book trailer!


Michael Bauer writes about ‘Don’t Call me Ishmael’

Michael bauerHi to everyone at Aquinas College!

Michael Bauer here and I’ve been asked to tell you a little bit about my book Don’t Call Me Ishmael!
I guess the first thing I could tell you is that the whole story started because I had an image from the old movie Moby Dick on the noticeboard beside my desk where I work. It showed Captain Ahab (actor Gregory Peck) on the side of the great white whale. When I looked at that picture one day (while I was still trying to write my first novel The Running Man) I thought of the famous opening line of Herman Melville’s book Moby Dick which is “Call me Ishmael.”
Then for some reason I imagined a boy saying the opposite, “Don’t call me Ishmael”. I started to wonder who that boy was and how he got the name Ishmael and why he didn’t like his name and that’s how the whole story began. It’s weird to think that if I didn’t have that picture on my noticeboard I probably wouldn’t have written the Ishmael stories. All my books have started like that – from little thoughts or ideas that have made me wonder and ask questions.
I really enjoyed writing Ishmael and the sequel Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs. The characters seem very real to me and I like how they have very different personalities so I get to write and say things that I normally wouldn’t – particularly when I’m writing as Razza! All the boys in the story were based on ‘types’ of boys I’d known when I was a teacher. James Scobie was the only one who started out based on a particular boy, although he ended up quite different in the novel.
I based Ishmael a little bit on me. I really hated speaking in front of the class or groups of people when I was at school just like he does. I didn’t get over that until I was at university and I got more confidence. Sadly I also had more than my fair share of unrequited love like Ishmael does with Kelly Faulkner! Some things that happen to Ishmael in the book are similar to things that have happened to me – like fainting before an audience (more than once!) and strange incidents with pegs! If I ever visit Aquinas I’ll tell you all about those.
One of the more unusual things about the Ishmael books is that my son Joe designed and created both covers. He did the first one when he was in Grade 12. He does all the art work and makes all the props (like the Ringo peg doll) and takes the photos. If you look on the front cover of Ishmael you can see a symbol representing Joe’s initials just above Ringo’s head. You should be able to find it on the Dugong’s cover as well. Also check out the picture of the band on the Dugong’s cover. One of the Dugongs is me. Of course I’m a bit hard to recognise because I’m quite a bit younger in the photo and purple!
At the moment I’m writing a third and final Ishmael story which will cover grades 11 and 12 and get the boys all the way through school. It will be a sad day for me when I write the final page. I’ll really miss those guys!
Anyway if you do read Don’t Call Me Ishmael! I hope  gives you a few laughs and maybe something to think about after you’re done.
ps In Chapter 3 Thar She Blows it mentions that the date of Ishmael’s birth is August 1st. Ishmael has the same birthday as someone famous who is mentioned in the novel. Can you guess or google who?
Michael Bauer
Kirsty Murray1
Kirsty Murray comments on ‘The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong’

Great comments, Amber, Chantelle, Alisha and Alana. It’s always exciting to hear about the things a reader finds in one of my books. I’m really touched that you were moved by Maeve’s story. Lots of what happened to her is based on what happened to real people that I have known. It took a long time to write her story because it’s the last book in the series ‘Children of the Wind’. By the time I’d finished writing the novel, I felt as though Maeve was a real person that had become very special to me. I’m glad she’s found you guys out there in the world to appreciate her story. Kirsty Murray

Tristan Bancks Visits Aquinas

Tristan Bancks with Thompson compressedTristan BancksHi! Thanks a million for having me at Aquinas today. I had a good workshop session first up with twenty year eight and nine students. There was some amazing writing being done and then read out to the group. We worked on Freewriting, which is how I get most of my ideas. I write three pages flat out at the beginning of each day. I don’t worry about making it neat or perfect. I just get the words down. This helps develop my Voice and helps me to avoid getting writer’s block. Even if it’s not brilliant the first time the words are written I know that I can make it work in the rewrite.

The large group talks covered the images, video, web links and music that inspire me as I write. It was a fun day and I hope you got something out of it.

Cheers,  Tristan.

1 thoughts on “Authors write to Aquinas

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