Hey cHEwY gum gums

Next week, my 8th cHEwY creation, Natural Born Loser will be released, out in the wild.

When people ask me how long it took me to write this book, I’m going to say 6 years. Yes, this book has been in the making since 2012. I remember going down to Norwood in South Australia for my May Gibbs Fellowship, where I was writing my first draft of a story called Nobody’s Prefect. I had this idea back in high school, where I wrote it as a TV sitcom that was similar to the classic Aussie satire, The Games. It was going to be about six prefects in a rundown high school, facing all kinds of weird problems.

In my first draft, the characters in my book were going to be in Grade Eleven, and the main character Scott was going to be a slacker. The kind of guy that was going to stay at home from school to wait for a chair to be delivered haha. But then Scott gets picked to be a prefect because there are no other good kids left, so he reluctantly takes the role. However the high school is going to be closed down but the prefects help the school rally to keep it open.

However this draft got knocked back from Penguin and so it was back to the drawing board. One of the major issues was the age of the characters. So I scaled it back to Grade Six kids in a rundown primary school. The major plot still stayed the same, the prefects were trying to save it from being shut down. However, this didn’t solve one of the other major problems, an overcrowded ensemble. Six major characters were a little hard to juggle and there was still a lot of mess with the saving the school campaign, too many coincidences and lucky chances haha.

I’m glad that version of Nobody’s Prefect never got out. As much as it hurts to have a book knocked back, publishers are doing it for the greater good. The last thing I want is to release a cHEwY creation that wasn’t my best work or had me going backwards. So I sat on Nobody’s Prefect for a few more years, working on other titles like Stuff Happens Ethan, The Other Christy and Super Con-nerd. But I wanted to give Nobody’s Prefect another crack. I still believed in the heart of the story, about a boy who is naturally a loser but ends up being a leader. So what changed between Nobody’s Prefect v.2 and Natural Born Loser? I trimmed the cast to four prefects and tinkered with the plot. Instead of trying to save the school, it was about trying to turn around the school’s bad reputation. Sure, the stakes weren’t as high but these slight changes helped to flesh out Raymond’s own journey more.

Natural Born Loser is the result of a lot of perseverance and determination. I learnt to never give up on your stories, and to also endure the rejections and setbacks. Now, the time is right for the world to see why Raymond is another cHEwY character to cherish and laugh along with.


@oliverwinfree on Twitter and Instagram

About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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