Summer Shenanigans

Hi Summer Reading Clubbers,

Well, summer is finally here. Some of you have finished school for the year, and some of you still have a few weeks of term left. Whatever your situation, there is no denying that summer is a fabulous time.

I love spending time outdoors – exploring, traveling and getting ideas for my stories. And when the summer sun is just a bit too hot for comfort, I like to retreat indoors with a book (or write one of my own).

Right now, I’m engrossed in the world of the Scallywags (my latest series). During each blog I will be including a Curious Creature Profile of one of my favourite characters. You can also learn to draw the characters at the bottom of each blog. The pages come from my yet-to-be released book How to Sketch Scallywags. Yes, you get to draw the characters first! Today, the honour goes to Mischief McScruff. Mischief is the hero of the series. Like his name suggests, he is constantly getting up to mischief.

I wonder what mischief you get up to in the summer holidays?

When I was young, my family went on a summer road trip every second year from Bundaberg to Adelaide to visit our relatives. My fondest memory was playing with my cousins at St Kilda Adventure Playground (there is also a St Kilda Adventure Playground in Melbourne). The playground has lots of slides, a maze and  … wait for it … a pirate shipwreck!

One year we took wooden swords and shields along to re-enact an epic pirate (or medieval) battle on the deck of the ship. My ballet-loving sisters even got involved. And for those of you who were wondering, dance skills are essential for staying upright on the deck of a swaying ship!

On another visit to the shipwreck, we lugged heavy rocks up the gangplank and threw them into the mud to see who could make the biggest cannonball splat. It was certainly a blast!


In tribute to these summer shenanigans, I have included a shipwreck (the Howling Queen) in my Scallywags series. The ship is guarded by one of the most curious creatures of all, a swashbuckling toucan named Sir Squawk-a-lot. Yes, my decision to lug wooden swords and shields 2,000 km to an adventure playground eventually paid off.

Here is this week’s tip for the budding writers:

A good tale needs a whole lot of trouble!  Characters who are naturally drawn to trouble, are great for keeping up the excitement.

As promised, here is the Curious Creature Profile:

  • Curious Creature Profile: Mischief McScruff
  • Animal: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  • Future Pirate Crew: Sea Dogs.
  • Strengths: Great nose for sniffing out trouble. Detective skills. Resilient.
  • Weaknesses: Constantly getting in trouble. Often eats his own homework. Dodgy dancer.
  • Likes: Freshly baked dog biscuits. Bones. Helping his friends.
  • Distinguishing features: Newspaper hat with changing headlines. Scruffy ears.
  • Favourite saying: ‘Soggy dog biscuits!’


Feeling creative? Why not try to draw Mischief from the pictures below?

Until next time, keep cool and keep reading!

15 responses

    Hi Dr Cameron,
    Mischief looks so cute!!!!!!! Where did you get your ideas for him? Did you always want to be a writer? Where do you get your ideas from? I love writing! Almost as much as reading! What is your favourite book to read? Which is your favourite book written by you? Sorry for all the questions i’m just curious.
    Madi (:

    Hi Madi,
    My ideas come from all over the place. A lot of children asked for a dog as a main character in my next series, so I chose Mischief. He was originally going to be a beagle called Scallywag Sam (a character in my Pie Rat’s novel The Trophy of Champions).
    I like reading a lot of books. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I do like the stories of Emily Rodda. The Star of Deltora series from a couple of years ago springs to mind.
    My favourite book written be me is probably my sixth Pie Rats novel, The Golden Anchor.
    Cheers, Dr Cameron

    Hi Lana,
    I usually do lots of thinking and planning before I even attempt to write my stories. It helps to know where things are headed. That doesn’t mean the story will stick to the script. A good adventure will often take on a life of its own. Having the right ‘ingredients’ before you start writing is similar to making a cake. Your cake will be a soggy mess if you didn’t remember to buy the flour!
    Dr Cameron

    Hi Luke,
    I like pirates, too – sort of.
    Real pirates are pretty rotten people, but the pirates we find in stories are often fun, inspirational and good for a laugh.
    Dr Cameron

    Hid Dr Cameron,
    Mschief is an awesome character. I had a go at drawing him but it did not look anywhere near as good as yours. I am not the best drawer.
    What or who inspired you to become a writer?
    What is your favourite thing to do in your leisure time? Are you working on any new books at the moment? Where do you get your ideas? What is your writing process like? What advice do you have for writing stories? How did publishing your first book change your writing process? What genre do you write in?

    Hi Sahansa,
    Often it takes a few attempts to get a character right, so keep at it! To answer your questions …
    Inspiration: Writers like Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss.
    Hobbies: Keeping fit (biking, trail running, gym and I just got a new scooter).
    Current book in production: Scallywags and the Wham Bam Gran (book 5 in the series). Books 3 and 4 are complete and will come out next year.
    Ideas: From everywhere. Mostly from visiting schools and seeing what students are interested in.
    Writing process: Lots of planning, then writing, then lots of editing, then lots of drawing, then lots more editing, then a bit of sleep …
    Advice: Read lots. Write lots. Enjoy what you write about.
    First Book: Didn’t change my process much. The changes came when I started listening to what my audience liked and wanted in the stories.
    Genre: Adventure (with a whole lot of humour)
    Dr Cameron

    Hi Dr Cameron,
    What is your favourite thing to write about? How many books have you written? Which one is your favourite? What is the writing structure that you follow for writing you stories? What is your special way of making stories entertaining and interesting?
    Sorry about all the questions I am just very curious and excited.

    Hi Sahansa,
    My favourite thing to write about at the moment is school (from a pirates point of view). I have written twenty books. Three of these are coming out next year. I am working on book twenty-one at the moment. I will start the illustrations this week. To make stories interesting I like to add lots of situations that are bound to end in disaster or humour.
    Dr Cameron

    I love that your characters are curious!! I am always asking questions and sometimes this can lead to trouble….like when I asked my teacher why she was getting a bit fat…she had to surprise the class with the news of her new baby a bit earlier than she had planned!! I love seeing how other creatures curiosity can lead to adventures also!!
    I look forward to reading more these holidays!!

    Hi Alexander,
    Keep being curious. Your pregnant teacher story sounds like something one of my characters (Hook Hand Horace) would do. He mostly speaks without thinking, but it makes for fun reading.
    Dr Cameron

    Hi Abby,
    I get heaps of ideas from my childhood. Many embarrassing situations make their way into my stories. I haven’t yet found a way to include the time I jumped off the stage at my auntie’s wedding reception and split my pants from front to back!
    Dr Cameron.

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