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Oh, man. I just went to a writer's festival in Sydney—such a strange experience.

For starters, I'd completely forgotten how airports work. I used to be a real pro, knowing exactly what I should and shouldn't put in my checked baggage, which items to take out of my backpack and my pockets before going through the scanner, etc. All that information seems to have evaporated over the past year.

And as for giving a speech to an auditorium full of readers, rather than to a webcam? A surreal, frightening experience. I don't know if you've heard this, but most human beings have two eyeballs, not just one—and when there's a hundred kids in the room, it really adds up. And they make sounds! Like this weird, gutteral shriek that I'm told is called "laughter". (I include here all the necessary disclaimers about how lucky I am to be able to opine about this from a position of relative safety.)

Fortunately, I was treated with kindness and patience by the students, teachers, security guards—everyone, really. As author and academic Christopher Richardson told me in the green room, a crisis often brings out the best in people, forging a sense of community in a way that normal life may not. (He phrased it better than that.)

Anyway, here's me falling off the back of the couch and grabbing Chris for support at the moment the group photo was taken:



Now I'm in a bit of limbo, having returned to Canberra and submitted various drafts of various projects to various publishers. I can't make any changes until I hear back. So I thought now might be a good time to let you know what I've been working on.

Firstly, a big thank you: Stunt Kid Seriously Stacks It and 200 Minutes of Mystery have both been smash hits across Australia and New Zealand. These books are a little different from what I've written before, and therefore risky: but you all jumped on board like the legends you are. It's such a privilege to be able to write whatever I want without worrying about whether my readers will embrace it.

(If you haven't read either one yet, click the cover for lots more info.)
 

Now onto the forthcoming stuff:

Kill Your Brother is a crime thriller for adults about Elise Glyk, a disgraced athlete who has been kidnapped and held prisoner alongside her brother at a remote farmhouse in rural New South Wales. Elise is told she'll be freed if she murders her brother. If not, they'll both die. Will she do it? Would you?

This book is an Audible Original, meaning you'll need Audible to listen to it. We're casting now, and the book should appear on Audible in June/July. More details closer to then.
Kid President Totally Rules is an illustrated comedy for kids aged 9+ about Jaxxon Mauriz, a kid who accidentally becomes president of his country (because the real president misspelled his own name on some crucial re-election paperwork). Jaxxon has big—and silly—ideas about how to make his country awesome, but he's surrounded by enemies who will do anything to remove him from power.

Will Jaxxon survive long enough to change the world? You'll find out in September 2021. (That's in Australia and New Zealand - more countries to come.)
10 Minutes of Danger is a collection of action-packed stories about brave kids in dangerous situations. That probably sounds a bit familiar, but this time there are twenty stories instead of ten. This book is a whopper, stuffed with danger—asteroids, volcanoes, runaway carousels, parallel universes—and it should be in bookstores in May 2022 (ish).
 

There are plenty of other projects in the works...

...including more comedies, more danger books and yes, a fourth helping of everyone's favourite cannibal. But it's too soon to talk about any of them yet. Just stay subscribed!

Reviews


I've been trying and failing to review every book I read this year, in the hope that having to articulate what I like about what I read will make me a better writer. Lately I've reviewed The Devils You Know by Ben Sanders, White Throat by Sarah Thornton, and a little-known domestic drama about mental illness called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I've tried to make sure the reviews are fun to read, as well.
 

And here's some flash fiction I wrote in 7 minutes during a writing workshop.

I have no memory of doing it, so I'm at a loss to explain the premise. I kinda like it, though.
'You want a Greyhound ticket,' the old man said, 'this is how you get one.'
Dana looked at the battered rifle, and then squinted into the sunshine at the distant target. She wouldn't have believed it was possible to hit it at this distance, except that the painted wood was peppered with holes from previous shots.
'I don't know how to shoot,' she said.
'Well then, I guess you're walking home.' The old man grinned, revealing a single blackened tooth in an otherwise empty mouth.
Dana honestly considered it. But she was almost two hundred miles from home. A week of walking through the desert heat, with no water, no hat, no tent to keep out the freezing wind at night. And no insulin. She would be dead before she even left the state.
'Fine,' she said. 'I'll compete. But you're gonna help me cheat.'
The old man looked her up and down with a milky eye. 'And why would I do that?'
'Because without me, you won't pull in any sort of crowd.'

Sayonara, pals.


I'll be back in June or July to tell you more about Kill Your Brother. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on social media. I don't post much, because only my wife knows the password, but every additional follower boosts my ego and tricks Generation Z into thinking that I'm a celebrity.
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Oh gosh, I spent all morning writing this newsletter! Argh, gotta go!
Copyright © 2021 Jack Heath, All rights reserved.


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