story, science, technology and creativity

Penguin Australia picks up shortlisted book: Oliver Phommavanh and Thai-riffic!

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Time has been getting away from me…suddenly I’m 38-weeks pregnant (how strange!) and the days are filled with washing baby socks and moving things into non-existent drawers and wondering how we’re going to function on fractional sleep. Oh well 🙂

olliehighresIn terrific news, Oliver Phommavanh, one of the writers shortlisted for the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices book award, has had his novel Thai-riffic! picked up by Penguin Australia! Way to go Oliver! This is the first in what I am sure will be many successes for the shortlisted crew. Below is a short interview with Oliver c/o the Seven Stories Children’s Book centre, and an excerpt from the book…

Thai-riffic! revolves around Albert LENG-VIRI-YA-KUL, a cheeky Thai kid who’s embarrassed to be Thai, thanks to his crazy parents who run Thairiffic! restaurant. Albert’s sick of eating Thai food and hates speaking Thai in public. The only thing he likes about Thai New Year is the water fights. To make matters worse, he’s also stuck with Mr Winfree, a weird and wacky teacher who talks to toys. And Albert thought he had problems. Albert’s all Thai-ed up! He’ll do anything for a normal life (and a juicy meat pie) and that means trouble for anyone who gets in his way!

All the teachers have trouble with my surname. I’m Australian so I should have an Aussie surname, something easy like Smith or Jones. But I’m stuck with Lengviriyakul. It looks like someone ate alphabet soup and threw up some letters. Mum says I should be proud of my surname because people will know that I’m Thai. Yeah right. Wong sounds Chinese. Nguyen sounds Vietnamese. Lengviriyakul sounds like I’m either from Mars or my parents are dinosaurs.

What do you usually write about and who do you write for?
I write funny stories about everyday situations and exploring the weird and crazy side of life. My stories are for little kids and big kids AKA adults.

Why do you write?
I love making people laugh and smile. I always have wacky thoughts in my head and it would explode if I didn’t put them down on paper.

Where and when do you write?
I spend mornings in the bedroom with my laptop, post it notes and lots of tea. I also carry my notebook with me everywhere, jotting down ideas when they appear. I’ve perfected the skill of writing without looking at the page!

What inspired you to enter the Diverse Voices Award?
My Thai tales allow readers to gain an insight in a fascinating and relatively unknown culture.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I have to cheat here and say any title with an ‘Un’ at the start by Paul Jennings. Unreal, Unbelievable, Uncanny…

Who is your favourite children’s author either writing today or from the past?
I’m a huge fan of Andy Griffiths.

What’s in store for Oliver Phommavanh?
As a Thai-Australian author, I want to be a proud and positive voice for young readers who share two cultures. I love making kids of all sizes (including the big kids, aka adults) laugh. I’ll continue to write stories that explore the ‘cHEwY’ and wacky side of life. There’s so much untapped humour in everyday situations. I also have these voices in my head, cracking me up with all their personalities. I can’t wait to let them loose on the page!

Thanks Oliver, and congratulations on the Penguin contract!

Author: cristyburne


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