Monday, 28 April 2014

Hot Key Young Writers Prize 2013 winner (9-12s) - Lyndon Riggall

Lyndon Riggall won the Hot Key Young Writers Prize 2013 (9-12s category) with Charlie in the Dark, which was also a very popular choice among the very youngest judges! He has won a year's editorial mentoring with Hot Key Books editor, Sara O'Connor. Having been on the judging panel, I'm delighted to have asked Lyndon some get-to-know-you questions so early on in his writing career.

WSD: You won the 9-12 category. What inspired you to write for this age group?

Lyndon Riggall: When I started writing Charlie in the Dark, I really wasn't sure what age group it would be for. I knew it was a kid's book, but it took me a while to realise that I was really writing it for a twelve-year-old version of myself. 9-12 is a wonderful age category to write for, though. For me, it was the period where I became a reader and started to want to be a writer, so I think it's so important that we have new, exciting books for kids of that age.

WSD: What's the most unusual thing you've ever done?

Lyndon Riggall: A few years ago I dressed up as a goth with a group of friends for a social experiment. We did the make-up and everything, just to see how we would be treated when we went around town. I went into a bike shop (as we all know, goths love bikes!) and a woman physically grabbed her young son and dragged him out of my way. I love kids, and to see them scared of me was really upsetting. We weren't very good goths though. We got asked a few times if we were "just pretending." Maybe it was the fact that we were stingy and hadn't bought any hair dye.

WSD: You live in Tasmania. What's one of the best things about it?

Lyndon Riggall: There are so many things I love about Tasmania. The single greatest though is its wildness. Hiking in Tassie is the best way to experience it - there are so many places to go and just disappear into a dense landscape for an epic journey... it's no wonder that people think the Tasmanian tiger might still be out there somewhere! I come up with my best ideas while walking and thinking, and I live in one of the best places to walk and think. Not bad, eh?

WSD: Favourite (and worst!) meal?

Lyndon Riggall: I work part-time at a gourmet burger restaurant and although I've gone through most of the menu as a favourite, right now I'm a real sucker for our veggie burger. Hard to go past that and a nice bowl of chips with a piece of orange and almond cake for dessert. 

On my first year out of home I was late for a party because I was trying to make a stew that wouldn't boil down. My solution to that was to add some flour to thicken it, and turn the heat right up. It did thicken - but was burnt right through within a couple of minutes. I'd make the stew again, but patience is a virtue. I can still taste charred rosemary just thinking about it!

WSD: Do you have any favourite fictional characters (any media)?

Lyndon Riggall: I think my favourite character from any story would have to be The Doctor from 'Doctor Who'. I love the way that the character is re-invented by each generation of his storytellers, and is layered with all of these questions that even over fifty years no-one has revealed the answer to. I always love wise mentors like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series, and terrifying, complicated villains like The Joker from 'Batman', or the deliciously evil Ursula Monkton from The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

WSD: Who are some of your favourite writers?

Lyndon Riggall: I would say that J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman are the two writers that I credit most with my enthusiasm over books and a desire to write myself. Other children's writers I tore through as a kid (and still love) included: Lemony Snicket, Andy Griffiths, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sonya Hartnett, Judy Blume, Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings.

These days I'm really into Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol-Oates and Joe Hill. I think John Green is fantastic - not only as a writer of fiction, but a vlogger too, and anyone who isn't watching the Vlogbrothers videos needs to get on to it immediately! Who I'm into changes all the time, but I think that list is a pretty good start for anyone looking for a good read!

WSD: You worked in a school?!

Lyndon Riggall:  St. Helens is a small coastal town here where I worked for six months as an Artist in Residence. I worked in the school from Kinder right through to Grade 10, and only ever took writing activities. I loved it! Both of those pics are from my time there. The cartoony drawing is a student's picture of me from a school in St. Helens.

Lyndon Riggall: Thanks so much for the opportunity to have a chat with you! 

WSD: You're welcome, Lyndon. Looking forward to seeing what you and Sara O'Connor from Hot Key Books do with Charlie in the Dark!

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