Justin Brown is a New Zealand author whose first children’s book, Shot, Boom, Score! has just been published by Allen and Unwin. Shot, Boom, Score! is a hilarious story about a boy who is promised a Gamebox V3 by his dad if he scores 20 wickets in cricket and 10 tries in rugby, but is foiled at every turn by the class bully. Justin has written a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books about writing and how Shot, Boom, Score! came to be.
‘If you dedicate your next book to me I’ll give you $1.20.’
This opportunity, offered to me by a boy named Kit at a school talk in Nelson, sums up why I write for kids. They have no fear and no filters. Their heads aren’t clogged with mortgages, work woes or what to cook for dinner. Okay, so they’re not allowed ice cream for dinner, or to stay up past ‘X-Factor,’ but nothing tops climbing trees, licking the bowl or having a fist fight with your best mate.
For the past ten years I’d focused on writing non-fiction travel (‘UK on a G-String,’ ‘Bowling Through India’) as well as humour (‘Kiwi Speak,’ ‘Rugby Speak’). In truth, I wanted to write middle-grade fiction, like my hero Roald Dahl. But first I had to meet someone who knew what they were doing. That someone was Joy Cowley, who I accosted one day at the Story Lines festival in Auckland. A few days later – when she’d read my stories – she agreed to be my ‘Yoda.’ We worked together on many titles for McGraw Hill and Clean Slate Press. She is a very generous and smart lady.
Then one day I had the idea for ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’. It came while on the sideline at my daughters’ soccer match. Like many Kiwi kids, sport played a major role in my childhood. As did rewards for doing well. Many a parent has bribed their kids with a ‘pie for a try’ or ‘movie tickets for a wicket.’ With Toby in ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ I wanted to take this theme to a new level. Here is a boy who struggles with school, but excels at sport. When his father sets him the GameBox V3 Challenge Toby thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Sadly, he hasn’t accounted for class bully Malcolm McGarvy – who does his best to ruin the party.
Kids can be ruthless critics. If something stinks they’ll let you know. So it was with a certain amount of relief when my nine-year-old daughter Sophie (who was having ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ read to her class) came home and said, ‘Dad, even the bullies love this story – and they never share their feelings!’ Here’s hoping many other kids enjoy the book.
PS. I did end up dedicating a novel to Kit, but as of yet haven’t seen any money.