I can remember, years ago, working on an issue of SPOCK, the Star Trek club fanzine, typing up one of George Ivanoff's stories in which the word "probe" was used often and I kept mis-spelling it "proble". The friend who was typing up the issue with me agreed that "proble" was an ancient Vulcan rite involving the ritual assassination of Spock's father, Sarek. We wrote a very silly story about it, so you could say that George has inspired my own writing. :-)
Since then, he has sold sixty-five books and I've sold ten. George has done fiction of many, many genres and non-fiction on just about everything under the sun. Some time I would love to invite him back to talk about some of the bizarre experiences he has had in the publishing industry!
George is a fellow Ford Street writer, the author of the two Gamers' novels, which are very popular in my school library. But there was another book, once, which went out of print, as books tend to do, and is now back with a vengeance!
I'll let George tell you about it - welcome to the Great Raven, George!
My very first book, published back in 1999, was a collection of YA short stories called Life, Death and Detention. Out of print for many years, it’s now back — a new edition with a new cover, a new publisher (Morris Publishing Australia) and updated stories. I’ve already written about the journey this new edition took, on my own blog (see here — http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/the-long-and-winding-road-to-a-new-edition/2012/08; and here — http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/life-death-and-detention/2012/08).
Each of the ten stories in this book is based in some way on my own past experiences. Now, that does not mean that I ever brought a gun to school, or held a teacher hostage, or snogged the school bully — aspects of my life were merely starting points for the stories, rather than the stories themselves.
Sometimes the relationship between story and real life is direct, as in the case of “Remember Me”. I wrote the first draft of this story shortly after my grandmother died. Writing it was a kind of therapy. I then pushed the story further from reality as I re-wrote it. Although the story is now fiction, the emotions that the main character is experiencing are very much my own. It’s probably the most personal story in the collection.
I didn’t need comforting. I needed to be alone. But it had to be done; so I put on my funeral face and dealt with the guests. It was strange—tears had been replaced with a mixture of nostalgic conversations and concerned looks.
With other stories, such as “Ghosts”, the connection is looser. I have never encountered a ghost. With this story the association is one of location rather than experience. When I was in high school, and later university, I used the library as a sanctuary — a place to escape to; to be alone; to reflect on things. And so, in this story, a girl named Melissa uses her school library in a similar way.
Since mid-primary school, I have been an enthusiastic science fiction fan. That interest manifests itself in two stories. “Sugar” is my take on the sci-fi, rampaging monster story. “Beam Me Up”, on the other hand, takes a more personal approach. Rather than being a science fiction story, it’s about a group of science fiction fans — nerdy kids who band together with a common interest. When they are first introduced, they are set up for ridicule (as I had experienced), but I then turn this around as the story progresses, trying to show them for what they really are — ordinary kids.
Natalie surveyed the worried faces. Daniel was sitting on one of the desks, rocking back and forth nervously, while Crystal bit at her nails and Anthony paced. Anton and Marco stood rigidly in place, uncertain glances darting between them.
They’re kids, thought Natalie, just an ordinary bunch of kids. A bit weird, sure. But hey, aren’t most people a bit weird in their own little ways?
This came as quite a revelation to her.
All fiction needs a kernel of truth. It’s this basis in reality that can make the most dramatic and fantastical of situations believable. Feelings, incidents, locations, interests, people, thoughts — all these things from my high school life have come together in the creation of the stories from Life, Death and Detention. They are undoubtedly fiction, but there is also truth in them — my truth, inspired by my time in high school.
Life, Death and Detention is available in bookshops around Australia. It can be purchased from many online bookstores, including Boomerang Books (http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Life-Death-and-Detention/George-Ivanoff/book_9780987244499.htm). And it is available in numerous eBook formats from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/174560
George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home dad residing in Melbourne. His books include Gamers’ Quest, Gamers’ Challenge and Life, Death and Detention. He has books on both the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge and NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge booklists. He is currently working on the third book in the Gamers series. Check out his website: http://georgeivanoff.com.au