Hey cHEwY gum gums
In between the Melbourne and Sydney launches for Funny Bones, I hopped down to Doveton College in the South Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne for the launch of another cool collection. This time, it was a kids-driven anthology called The Sound of the Dark, where they had 14 kid authors and 15 kid editors on board to make this book happen. Oh, and I was a special guest author with my own short story too hehe.
This was the eighth anthology, run by the 100 Story Building. They are a brilliant initiative, allowing kids to have a safe place to be creative in writing their stories. I first met one of the co-founders in Singapore at the AFCC festival in 2016. Years later, I was invited to submit a story in the creepy horror theme. I was kinda scared because I don’t really write horror, but even more terrified of being judged and edited by kids. Established authors have had their stories rejected in past anthologies, so it was humbling to have made it in.
I wanted to attend the launch, not just to meet the editors and writers, but to witness firsthand of what a thriving creative project can do for the kids and their families. Stories were being celebrated there. Writers were in the spotlight. I could see myself in some of these kids, from varied cultural backgrounds, living in suburbia. They got to show their family and friends that they were a published author.
The book itself is quite impressive, and it’s being sold in bookstores, thanks to the kind folks at Hardie Egmont Publishing. The design is top notch. There is a variety of pieces, from poems, to a quiz, and a choose your own adventure tale that spreads itself across the whole book in patches. This is all kid-driven. The kid editors spoke about the challenges of editing and making a book. They didn’t realise how hard it was. That feeling never goes away by the way haha.
The kids swarmed around me like I was some superstar author, and no this is not some humblebrag. There were times in the past when kids were pleased to see me because they were cHEwY gum gums, and then there were nights like last Wednesday, where kids were genuinely shell-shocked. It doesn’t happen all the time, believe me, so I was glad to have been a special VIP guest.
I always tell kids that short stories and trying to get them published is a nice way to kick start their writing career. I can’t help but wonder how I would have felt if I got to be an editor who worked with designers and publishers. Or to have their story illustrated by a professional illustrator. Dreams come true stuff.
100 Story Building is one of many things that I wished was around when I was a kid. But I’m happier knowing that it exists now for the future writers out there.