Tristan Bancks – Interview (Apr 2014)

Tristan Bancks

Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Freedom to explore your own mind and ideas and to decide how you want to spend each day. I also like to bring the stories alive in a variety of ways – through text and the spoken word and via the Web and in moving pictures. I love that writers now have easily accessible tools to express ourselves across a range of media.

Q. How important are trailers in promoting your books?

I’m not sure. I love to make them but I don’t have any sense of whether they result in more people buying books. I do know that they are really useful in talks, helping to share the story with kids in a totally different way and to break up the chat. They are also a succinct way to share a story online with publishers, librarians, readers, media and so on. I love the challenge of boiling a story down to 30 seconds or a minute. It’s great discipline and worth the effort if you have the inclination. Here are a couple I have made for two books out this year:

Q. What tips would you give to an aspiring writer?

The usual stuff:

  1. Write every day. Even if it’s for ten minutes or an hour. It’s the regularity that makes you a writer.
  2. Read the best books you can find. And the worst. You learn from everything.
  3. Expect it to take a long time. Years, rather than months. First drafts stink. It’s only around the fifth to seventh draft that I share my manuscript with other humans. (Prior to that, just with Boston the dog.)
  4. Make sure you have a life beyond reading and writing. At times I have shut everything else out and the work runs dry or I start to repeat myself. Engagement with the world is what brings stories alive.
  5. Get out in Nature. I seem to write more honest words when I write outside.

Q. Do your characters wake you up at night with ideas?

I tend to have my best ideas either just before bed (which is really annoying because you can never sleep afterwards) or as soon as I wake up. Also showering and driving and walking and travelling.

Q. Tell us a little about your writing journey. What prompted you to sit down and write your first story?

It’s something that I have always done. It was never a conscious choice. It’s how I make sense of the world, work through problems, entertain myself etc. I devour stories on the page and on the screen and I can’t help but create them, too. Like with most writers, it’s a compulsion.

Q. Do you road test your ideas before you start your story?

I do. When I have a new idea or a decent draft of a short story I often read it to kids in schools and they tell me what’s working and what isn’t. It’s nerve-wracking sometimes because kids are so honest but the feedback is always so useful in honing the story. I also love the idea of blurring the lines between writer and reader, where kids are invited into the process and are able to collaborate.

Q. If you could invite one author, dead or alive to dinner who would it be?

Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet.  (If he wasn’t available, I’d give Roald Dahl a bell.)

Q. If you could be any character from any book for a day who would you be and why?

Maybe Skeeta from The Bugalugs Bum Thief.  It would be interesting to go without a bum for a day and to go on a mission to find it. Or Hugo from The Invention of Hugo Cabret  because it would be fun to live within the walls of a Paris train station and to meet Georges Melies.

Q. What’s next from Tristan Bancks?

I’m working on my third book of weird-funny-gross short stories in the My Life  series and, in the background, I am exploring another darker middle-grade crime-adventure book along the lines of Two Wolves.

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