Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with David Lawrence!

It’s such a huge honour to welcome award-winning children’s author, Indigenous Literacy Foundation Ambassador and all-round funny man, David Lawrence to our blog to talk about the latest magical book in his Pen series; Xander and the Pen. Following the success of Ruby and the Pen, this sequel is just as humorous, imaginative and punchy as the first. It deals with important themes including bullying, family and greed (and solving an alpaca mystery), and while we don’t condone becoming one of the bullies, you’ll love the hilarious cases of comeuppance for these characters! Nice work, Xander! True to the nature of the story, Cherie Dignam‘s interspersed sketches completely come alive with the stroke of her pen. Thanks for this awesome series, David and Cherie! 🙂

About the Author

David Lawrence has a dark past … he was once a Financial Analyst!

He went from profit and loss statements to TV writing, before penning Anna Flowers with Australian Netballer Eloise Southby in 2007.

Since then he’s written another twelve fun-filled children’s books, including The Stormy Protest that won the Environmental Award for Children’s Literature in 2019.

His latest series (that kicked off with Ruby and the Pen and Xander and the Pen) is about a magical pen that falls into the hands of kids who are struggling. They soon discover that whatever they draw … happens!

David is passionate about children’s literacy and is an Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

He also likes sponge cake.

Visit David Lawrence at his Laughing Matters website: Laughing Matters, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Ruby and the Pen and Xander and the Pen can be purchased via EK Books online and in all good bookstores.

You can also find comprehensive teaching notes for these titles at EK Books.

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

David Lawrence, Cherie Dignam, EK Books.

WHAT is it about?

Xander and the Pen is the second book (following on from Ruby and the Pen) in the series about a magical pen.

Xander is a tiny 12 year old boy who loves sketching superheroes; he is also a complete wimp!  

After buying an old pen at a market, he quickly discovers that whatever he draws … happens! With the help of the mighty pen he stands up to the notorious school bullies, helps his wheelchair-bound sister, and investigates the mysterious deaths of some local alpacas. But suddenly Xander’s friends, family and even his scruffy dog are angry with him, so he sets out to resolve his problems without using magic. This proves to be a lot harder than it sounds!

What is your favourite part of this book?

I really enjoyed writing the Beeston family dinner scenes. They start out as such a fun, loving and supportive family, but when their circumstances ‘improve’, they quickly become, jealous, greedy and petty.  And coming up with entertaining ways that a magic pen (and it’s special ink) can be deployed always puts a smile on my face!

WHEN did you begin writing this book?

I started writing Xander and the Pen in September 2021. It was during another Covid lockdown which made me wish I had my own magic pen!  

When is its release / launch date?

Xander and the Pen was released in Australia on Nov 1 and overseas on Nov 14.

WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

The inspiration for the serieswas the phrase: The Pen is mightier than the Sword.

I was pretty sure kids who were being bullied at school would think, ‘Really? Are you sure about that?’

Then an idea popped into my head. ‘What if we evened up the score by making the pen magic?’ and that started the ball rolling.

WHY is this book meaningful to you?

Xander lives in a seaside town called Dukescliff – it’s loosely based on a beautiful place called Queenscliff which brings back very fond childhood memories.

Why would its message resonate with readers?

Most of us have experienced some form of bullying in our lives and it’s hard for a lot of kids (and adults!) to speak out/stand up for fear of the consequences. But if they don’t, it usually only makes the situation worse. In the absence of a magic pen to solve all our problems, it’s important to either face up to them and/or share them with friends and family.

HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

I love them – they are a huge part of the book’s appeal. Cherie Dignam is incredible.  Her drawings capture so much detail from the text and her distinctive style always nails how the characters are feeling in the relevant scenes. Her wonderful chapter headings underscore the magical nature of the book.

How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?

The book is promoted by the Publisher, EK books (@EKBooks) and is available at bookstores or online via the publisher. If anyone wants to see the silly videos I make to promote the books (as well as some serious reviews) they can follow me on Instagram: @starchy06

OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?

Before sending book manuscripts off to the publisher, I run the draft by a group of children in the target age bracket. Their honesty, while at times brutal, is invaluable!

Amazing! Honestly, this series ‘draws’ in on the most fun, imaginative and important themes… even if some of your characters are a bit sketchy! Love it, David! 🙂

#thequicksixinterview #xanderandthepen #rubyandthepen #magicpen #chapterbook #middlegrade #justkidslit

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