Sam Wallace talks about Duggie the Buggy
Sam Wallace is a popular TV and radio personality, best-known as the weatherman for TVNZ. He has also appeared on Sticky TV and Celebrity Treasure Island. Currently he co-hosts the breakfast radio show on Coast FM. Sam lives in Auckland with his wife and young family. He talks about his debut book, Duggie the Buggy.
Tell us a little about Duggie the Buggy.
Duggie is your classic over thinker. Despite having some life success in the past. He’s down on his luck and needs the spirit of friendship to draw him out of the dark. His good friend Ronnie is the opposite. Ronnie is a rocket and he knows it… Ronnie is blissfully unaware of the fact he’s not from NASA, he’s the run of the mill, made at an intermediate science class, bottle rocket. But ignorance is bliss and Ronnie’s lack of inhibitions allows him to worry less and dream for the stars. Just the friend worrying Duggie needs.
What inspired you to write this book?
In 2019 Lynley Dodd sold more copies of Hairy Maclary than the bible (don’t we live in a fascinating country). And I said to my radio co-hosts, “how hard can it be”. To which Toni Street said that I wouldn’t stand a chance of writing a decent kid’s book. So I wrote one and read it live on air. And they all concluded it wasn’t too bad and we should do something with it. So we put it in front of Scholastic and they saw some magic in it. Then the hard work began, fine tuning with the Scholastic team, removing half rhymes and making it easy for the kids to pick the words up off the page.
But it was also amazing to get back to my roots. I spent nearly 10 years writing and co presenting a kid’s show called Sticky TV. The key to good kid’s TV will always disguising education and positive messaging within consumable content. And I think I have achieved that with DTB.
What research was involved?
The passion for this book is my Can Am off-road buggy. I drive it as often as I possibly can over dirt tracks and sand dunes. It’s my passion. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s a 300horsepower off road weapon. It’s got a whopping turbo charger and runs on alcohol. So in terms of research, I spend every waking moment that I’m not changing the nappies of my three kids researching how I can make my buggy go faster.
What was the process with working with the illustrator, Shaun Yeo?
I wrote the book and Scholastic instantly knew who they should partner with. Shaun took my words and sifted over my social media where he stumbled through hours of videos and photos of my off-roader. When the first drafts came through I couldn’t believe how he had brought the story alive. The buggy’s were on point. And all the scenery in the book feel like the trails and dunes I have spent the last 3 decades riding.
I was so delighted to have Shaun illustrate my book, I was already a fan of his work after he drew the image of the crying kiwi after the Christchurch mosque shootings that were shared all around the world.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
As soon as Duggie and Ronnie launch towards the moon with their cheeky smiling faces. I would like to hear Space Oddity by David Bowie - imagine that!! “Ground control to Major Tom.
But in all honestly it needs something bright and engaging. And to be honest its mostly what I listen to these days… The Wiggles… the masters of engaging kids. I sure my boy Brando loves Anthony Wiggle more than me.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?
There has been two incredible moments. When I first Shaun pictures for the first time and the words from my mind came to life. And then reading it to my two-year-old son Brando and having him ask for DTB after his bath each night. He asked for DTB and Each Peach Pear Plum. To be honest he mostly asks for Each Peach Pear Plum… but sometimes DTB gets a call up.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
I still haven’t celebrated it. I might have a glass or two if more people like it than just me and mum.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts… but it’s a big book and I certainly haven’t got through it in the first month of this year. But it’s a cracker. You will want to sell up and move to India and work as a GP despite lacking any qualifications.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Surviving 2021. We have just had twin girls and we have a son that’s two years old. At the time of writing this we are averaging 21 nappies a day. So at this stage it’s just about pouring everything into my family. Enriching my kid’s lives so we are left with three energetic, positive, happy and well read children.
Duggie the Buggy by Sam Wallace and Shaun Yeo
Scholastic NZ, RRP $19.99