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Introducing children’s book creator Aaron Blabey

Aaron Blabey is the creator of the bestselling children’s book series ‘Pig the Pug’ and ‘The Bad Guys’ (Scholastic Australia), which have been sold into numerous territories around the world. The two series have taken off in the US and a DreamWorks film adaptation of ‘The Bad Guys’ is on the way. Think Australian spoke to the author.

You’re known for your prolific output, which is ‘never less than’ five books per year, according to Booktopia. Is this how you keep the popularity of your books from waning?

The output is driven by a desire to not become Gollum. When I work on a single project, it can all too quickly become ‘my precious’. I’ve found that I’m much more playful when working on multiple projects. Designer Bob Gill said it best (I’m paraphrasing): ‘Working on one project is like facing down a rhinoceros. However, working on thirteen projects is like playing ping pong.’

If this approach happens to help buoy popularity, that is merely a wonderful side-effect.

How did ‘Pig the Pug’ and ‘The Bad Guys’ gain popularity among young readers in both the Australian and US markets?

It’s not really for me to say. That said, I’m very proud of both. It’s a giant privilege to go to work in the morning and make books that children are actually waiting for. That development is undoubtedly the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Additionally, a lot of the credit goes to my publisher, Scholastic, because they are peerless when it comes to getting books into the hands of children.

DreamWorks recently announced a film adaptation of ‘The Bad Guys’. Do you think that came about off the back of the series’ Australian success or US success, or both?

The team at DreamWorks were fans of the series right from the beginning. They were aware of its success in Australia but our first meeting in LA happened to coincide with ‘The Bad Guys’ suddenly exploding in the US school market. Since then, it’s snowballed into the trade and has gone on to spend a large portion of 2018 on the New York Times bestseller list.

You’re serving as executive producer on the film. How far along in development is it and when can we expect to see it in Australia?

The screenplay by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder, Men in Black 3, Madagascar 2, Holmes & Watson) is in wonderful shape and the project is galloping along faster than I’d ever expected. I’m not able to say much more at this point, but everyone is very excited with current progress. Stay tuned.

Are there plans for a ‘Pig the Pug’ movie?

There are indeed plans being developed for Pig’s screen transition, as we speak.

On your recent tour ‘The Bad Guys: Mission to America’, what things told you it would be successful in terms of drumming up interest in the series?

No matter where I was (Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Toronto) the response was identical—kids just went bananas.

How important is comedy in making a successful junior fiction book? How do you know what makes kids laugh and is laughter necessary for getting kids to engage with reading?

It certainly doesn’t hurt. When it comes to early junior fiction, I think if you can get kids to associate books with fun, you’re probably on the right track.


Category: Think Australian Junior Profile