Tristan Bancks is a children’s and teen author with a background in acting and filmmaking. His books include the My Life series, Mac Slater, and Two Wolves, which won Honour Book in the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards. Visit tristanbancks.com.
What led you to become an author for kids and teens?
I still feel as though I’m very much the same person I was when I was a kid. I remember very clearly how it felt to be about 10-13 years old (the same age that my sons are now). I think it’s healthy to be wary of becoming too much of a professional adult. My first paid writing job was for a teen magazine in the UK when I was about 19. I interviewed Australian actors and wrote feature articles. I lived in the UK for about four years, writing, researching and presenting TV, mostly kids’ shows. I was working in film and TV when my son was born and there was an opportunity to contribute to a book series for Scholastic. I loved it and have never looked back.
So far, what’s been your most successful book in terms of connecting with readers?
Two Wolves for older readers and the My Life series for younger readers. My books have connected more deeply with readers in the past five years since I started being more brave, writing more personally and pouring my own experience into the stories. In my upcoming workshop I hope to help other writers to find their voice as a writer for young people too.
What’s one key tip for writing a story a young audience can really connect with?
Entertain yourself first. Never write what you think a kid or teen might like if it doesn’t genuinely humour or entertain or thrill or sadden you. Kids are super smart and are spoken to inauthentically by adults a lot. They won’t put up with it in their fiction. So make it as true and ‘you’ as you possibly can.
Join Tristan for his course Connect with Your Audience: Writing for Kids and YA on Saturday 12 August, 10am-4pm, at the Centre.