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George Ivanoff – Author


Writing about what interests YOU

Hello everyone! My name is George… and I’m an author. I write all sorts of things — short stories, articles, non-fiction books, school readers and novels. I’ve written over 60 books so far and I’ve got plans for lots more.

Even though I write about lots of different subjects, the one thing they all have in common, is my interest in them. It is very important to be really interested in what you’re writing about. Because if you’re not interested in what you’re writing, how can you expect a reader to be interested in it?

The Gamers novels

I’ve written two novels in my Gamers series so far — Gamers’ Quest and Gamers’ Challenge. These novels sprung from my teenage obsession with computer games. I used to spend ages playing things like Asteroids, Galaga and my favourite, Space Invaders. And it wasn’t just the games I liked, but also any fiction (book or film or tv show) that dealt with computer games. So I loved films like TRON and books like Gillian Rubinstein’s Space Demons.

I used this interest in computer games to fashion a story idea. I started asking myself some questions to get the ball rolling. What if you were a character in a computer game? What if you thought the game you lived in was the real world? What if you suddenly discovered you were in a game? Would you try to get out? Would you want to see the real world?

In Gamers’ Quest I introduce readers to Tark and Zyra, two teenage thieves who live in an amazing world where both science and magic exist side-by-side. This world that they live in is an environment within an elaborate computer game, but Tark and Zyra don’t know it. It’s not until the end of the book that they discover the truth. They then break the rules of the game and stop playing. So, in Gamers’ Challenge, even though they are no longer playing, they are still trapped within the game. And now they are searching for a way out.

Writing a novel can take a long time. I spent over three months writing and re-writing Gamers’ Quest before I felt ready to send it to my publisher; and then another three plus months working on it with my publisher and editor. When you’re spending this amount of time on one story, you really need to love it. And it was very easy for me to love a story about computer games.

Note to Teachers:

Lots of kids and teens also love computer games. So Gamers’ Quest and Gamers’ Challenge can provide a way of linking game playing with reading and literacy. Teaching notes for both books are available as free PDFs from Ford Street Publishing.

Writing Activities

What is it that really interests you? Something you know lots about? Something you could spend ages talking about?

Do you love playing computer games? Are you into football? Is music your thing?

Choose something that you’re really interested in. And then give these activities a try…

1. Write a paragraph about your interest. Tell your reader why you like it. Tell them what makes it special to you.

2. Make a list of questions about your interest that could lead to a story.
Tip: “What if?” questions are really good ones to ask. For example, if your interest is football, you could ask: What if I was the greatest footballer in the world? If your interest is stamp collecting, you could ask: What if I found the rarest stamp in the world?

3. Now, take those questions and start to think about a story. Think about how you might like to start the story. Write the first paragraph.

Tip: It’s good to start off a story with something to grab the readers’ attention — some action; or something mysterious; or a really interesting character; or an unusual setting — something to make people want to continue reading.

George Ivanoff is a Melbourne author and stay-at-home dad who loves doing school visits and talking about his writing. To find out more about him, check out his website (http://georgeivanoff.com.au). To find out about the Gamers books, visit the Official Gamers Website (http://www.gamersquestbook.com).

The Gamers books are available in bookshops throughout Australia. Gamers’ Quest is also available as an eBook through Amazon  and Readings.


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MEET WENDY ORR – Featured Author

Nim's Island MTI A&U

This month our featured author is Wendy Orr, writer of Nim’s Island and many other fabulous titles.

Wendy is generously donating one of her books as a prize in our current FREE writing competition.

So make sure you get your entries in for your chance to win. (Competition closes 30th June.)


I started school in France, so learned to read and write in French. One night just before we moved back to Canada, my parents left two ‘Dick and Jane’ readers by my bed. I woke up and read them, and then realized they were in English.

I can still remember the huge thrill of mastering a whole story, and in my own language, and I think that’s why I started writing stories almost immediately.

I also had great models in my parents: my mother read us classic children’s literature for bedtime stories until I was about twelve, and any time we were in the car, my dad used to make up crazy stories about our dachshund’s great-great-great-grandfather, who had apparently invented or built pretty well everything we saw.

But the most truthful answer is that I don’t know why I became a writer – it’s just part of me.


Here’s a fabulous free writing activity from Wendy.

There are poems by Jess and Raven in the book.

Jess’s goodbye poem for Raven:

When Raven moved to Jenkins Creek

Her friends at home did wail and weep.

For those hills are far away

From the flat lands where we stay.

But when Raven bravely mountain climbs

She’ll think of friends from time to time.

So in our hearts we’ll always keep

Our dearest friend on her mountain peak.

Raven’s verse when she finally finds some food:

Cookies in my tummy,

Chocolate in my brain,

It’s really very funny

When you think you’re going insane.

ACTIVITY: Write a poem for Raven that describes what you think of her or her adventure.


Raven uses inukshuks to point the way to searchers on the mountain. These “are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. …An inukshuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. Built from whatever stones are at hand, each one is unique. The arrangement of stones indicates the purpose of the marker. The directions of arms or legs could indicate the direction of an open channel for navigation, or a valley for passage through the mountains.” Read more at:   http://www.inukshukgallery.com/inukshuk.html


ACTIVITY: Collect some rocks to make your own inukshuk. You’ll have to experiment to see how to balance each rock. If you use small stones you can glue them for extra stability once you’ve got them in place.

The one on the left was bought from a gallery; the one on the right is one I saw on the beach in Vancouver.

Perhaps you could write a story about your inukshuk.

Thanks, Wendy for visiting Writing Classes For Kids.

Wendy’s new book, Rainbow Street Pets is out this month. Ask for it at your bookshop.



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