Arguably New Zealand's hardest working author, Peter Millett is a full-time author living on Auckland’s North Shore, with nearly 80 children's books to his name.
Peter talks to NZ Booklovers about the second in The Invincibles books for children, a series that is proving to be very popular with children, with a tale that has super-power action and sports comedy, featuring tackles, tries, toilet terror and a ticking deadline that will make your hair stand on end!
Tell us a little about the new novel.
The Invincibles Short Circuit is the second book in the series of Invincibles books about sports-mad kiwi kids who get transformed into ‘Super Rugby’ players after being hit by lightning.
What happens in Short Circuit?
Tana, Scotty, Zinnia, Muzza and Andrea ‘short circuit’ their powers and find themselves shrunk down to the size of toothbrushes in the middle of a footy field! Their small problem quickly develops into giant-size drama when they have to escape the ‘field of doom’ before being squished flat or swallowed by weta.
Why did you write the book?
I wanted to produce an action/adventure/comedy series set entirely in Aotearoa. We don’t have so many of these books available for our 7-11 year old readers. The Invincibles series fills a gap for reluctant readers and kids in search of wild and wacky adventures down under.
Who is your favourite character in the series?
The bad guy – Tricky Ricky. I love writing baddies. I know that actors love to play villains because they can be wildly expressive and completely over the top, I’d say writers probably share some similar sentiments too.
Who is the audience for Short Circuit?
Families. I always make sure that my comedy books work for a wide range of readers. Grandparents will enjoy the 70s/80s rugby references and primary age kids will see themselves in the characters who my illustrator partner-in-crime Myles Lawford has so expertly drawn. Having mum or dad or gran or grandad sharing the Invincibles with a youngster would be just perfect in my world.
Would you like to see The Invincibles made into a movie?
Would I ever? Of course! Aotearoa makes epic movies filled with superheroes and legendary heroes every other weekend. How about we make a superhero comedy featuring a cast of kiwi kids from Arakino? What’s not to like about that? And there’s flying sheep too. That would bring the house down!
There aren’t a lot of sports fiction books published in NZ, why is that? Because kiwis are too busy playing sports to read them! That’s why I expanded Short Circuit to include comedy and the crazy challenges of being an inexperienced superhero. My book is for readers who crave giggles and ticking time deadlines with rugby as a ‘flavour’ of the story.
Are you keen on sport? Did it help you writing Short Circuit?
Yes!! I’ve been watching sport on TV since the days of only one channel available in black and white! I have fond memories of watching late night All Black’s games and the All Whites in Spain and Chris Lewis at Wimbledon. You name it, I’ve watched it. (I’ve played a fair few of them too.) My love of comedy plus my credentials as a sports watcher make me the right sort of kiwi author for The Invincibles!
Who are you influences as a writer?
I’m primarily a comedy writer so I have to pay tribute to the legendary comedians like John Clarke (Fred Dagg) Spike Milligan and Pam Ayers who influenced many kiwi kids back in the day. In terms of storytelling ability and wit, Roald Dahl stands head and shoulders above all other kid’s book writers as an influence.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I’ve never been so busy in my career as a writer. I have one of my most favourite every picture books (Moa’s Ark) coming out in early 2020, and a few months after that I’ll be publishing the sequel to My Old Man He Played Rugby. Exciting times!