The Super Weirdos and the Royal Roodle Rumble by NZ author and teacher has everything kids aged 7 to 13 could want: an army of spaghetti and meatballs monsters, fart jokes, burps, space travel, aliens, adventure, secrets and more. Mr Mac talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about The Super Weirdos and the Royal Roodle Rumble.
The Super Weirdos and the Royal Roodle Rumble is the second book in my series. It’s based around an eleven-year-old boy called Norm and a group of aliens who together, have to save the world from a new alien supervillain. My books are designed to be fun, exciting and silly. All of the aliens have superpowers that are often ridiculous and in this book, Norm gets new powers that help in the battle against Queen Roodle! My goal with all of my books is to give kids a book they can’t put down and will laugh all the way through.
What inspired you to write and illustrate this book?
I am a primary school teacher and I love helping kids gain confidence in themselves. I started writing to get kids to really enjoy reading, to have them laughing and importantly, to help all kids, not just the ones who already like reading.
When I saw how successful my first book (The Battle of Bash) was with kids aged 7-13, I couldn’t wait to write another one. I love the idea of Carol Dwek’s growth mindset. I have tailored this book to teach kids my alien secrets through the life of Norm. My alien secrets are #1: Never give up! Never surrender! #2: Just get started! and #8: Stop, breathe, smile, focus.
I love hearing from teachers who say things like, ‘I said ‘remember alien secret number 2!’ and the kids just started working. Amazing!’ I want to build a series that helps kids learn the skills needed to achieve their goals in life while making them laugh and love reading.
What research was involved?
My books are set in a universe that does not exist (as far as we know) and is full of fantasy spaceships, characters and powers. It’s quite hard to research ‘soldier with meatball head and spaghetti body’, not much comes up. The main research I used was from my class. ‘Is this funny?’ or ‘what did you struggle to understand?’, or even just using my writing as a lesson for reading and writing.
The other area of research would be in illustrating. Youtube is phenomenal for teaching people how to draw. I used Donovan Bixley’s drawing book to enhance each picture. He is the master of cartoons and I can’t thank him enough for putting his how to draw book out.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
As I work and have a young family, a lot of my writing is completed during the school holidays. The easy part is writing the story. I love sitting down and writing about my characters because they are based on my friends in real life. It feels like I am having chats with them even though in real life, they all live miles away.
After I wrote the first draft I edited and rewrote the parts I didn’t like. Then the scary part of the process. Reading the book to my class… If you ever want honest, ruthless feedback, ask a ten-year-old to critique your work. They don’t hold back. This is a process I had to learn to love and I’m still learning to do this, but if you want to improve you have to listen to your target audience. I’m lucky that for the past thirteen years, my target audience has been right in front of me.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
In the Royal Roodle Rumble, Queen Roodle is the 4th worst alien in the Universe with dreams of becoming number one someday. I think “Who Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce would fit nicely when the Super Weirdos are in real trouble and all hope is nearly lost.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?
I think for Mac, I’d like someone like Jake Gyllenhaal because he grows a good beard and doesn’t mind being silly.
For Scotty, I would love to see Steve Merchant because he’s 6”7, thin and has a brilliant sense of humour.
For Norm, I would cast a real kid. I’d love it if my book gave a kid the chance to follow their dream.
For Queen Roodle I’d choose Rachel McAdams because she’s in a favourite movie of my wife's, About Time.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?
I love writing about the universe because the options are literally endless. Anything can and does happen in the universe, so I try to write the craziest ideas I can think of to make kids laugh because no one can say that’s impossible.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
My family had Fish n Chips on the beach.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
I’ve just finished The Hobbit which is brilliantly written. I’ve seen the movies but when I read the book I was really surprised by the unique storytelling style of Tolkien. The adventure, the characters and the narrative are so brilliant. He brings the reader into his world and makes no apologies for dropping a ‘historical fact’ in there that only exists in his universe. I’m looking forward to going back to Hobbiton to see it all again with fresh eyes.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I want as many kids to read my books as possible. My goal is to write full time and use my teaching experience to support teachers in teaching literacy. I have had a lot of homeschooling parents who use my books because they come with ready-made worksheets across the curriculum so I would like to do more in that space. And of course, the next step is to start cooking up the 3rd book in the Super Weirdo series!