Real Life and the Ridiculous

Hi Summer Reading Clubbers,

I hope your holidays have been enjoyable. With so many weeks between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, it’s okay to feel a little bored at times. I know there are heaps of great books to read, but sometimes we want our real lives to be just as exciting as our favourite adventure story.

So how can we turn a dull day on the couch into something more exciting. Simple. We let our imagination take over. I like to play a little game called What If?

Here is your creative tip for the week:

Choose something you are doing or something you can see and ask yourself, What if the unexpected or the impossible happened right now?


Here are some examples:

  • What if that black cat creeping across your fence is actually an escaped panther from the circus? 
  • What if the ticking clock in the kitchen is actually a time bomb about to explode? 
  • What if your pyjamas are made from a special material that enables you to fly?

Take your ideas and create a wonderful story in your head. Or even better, write it down! The key is to start with something that’s real and then give it a twist. You can make it as ridiculous as you like.


My story, Scallywags and the Hungry Hairy Sea Monster started out that way. Four real life events were combined together to form the basis of the adventure. They are listed below in the order they occurred in my life. The first event happened when I was eight years old. The last one happened when I was twenty-five!

  1. Dressing up in seaweed and trying to scare my parents during a visit to the beach.
  2. Performing a magic act with my brother at our grandparent’s house.
  3. Squelching through waist-deep mud to reach an island in the middle of the Burnett River.
  4. Discovering an unusual creature during a visit to Scotland.


You can read the book when it comes out in April to see how these four stories combine to form a What If adventure.

The student performing the magic act in my story is Nora Nibblesworth. She is extremely talented and organised (a bit like my older brother). Mischief McScruff, her bumbling assistant, is a bit like me!

  • Curious Creature Profile: Nora Nibblesworth
  • Animal: White rabbit.
  • Future Pirate Crew: Bunny Buccaneers
  • Strengths: Good at everything.
  • Weaknesses: Nothing she will admit.
  • Likes: Carrots. Being good at everything.
  • Distinguishing features: Always dresses smart. Earring in left ear.
  • Favourite saying: ‘Winners come and go, but champions last forever!’


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

Until next time, keep up the creativity!

39 responses

    Dear Dr Cameron,
    I am reading the first book in the Scallywags Series and it is amazing. I love the series. I think that the weapons the villains have are very creative. I love the drawing of Nora Nibblesworth. It is really that one of your Scallywags books is based on those personal experiences. It takes the story to the next level. I can’t wait till it comes out in April. The tip for this week is great and it really helps turn an ordinary situation into a source of inspiration for a story .org.

    Dear Dr Cameron,
    I am reading the first book in the Scallywags Series and it is amazing. I love the series. I think that the weapons the villains have are very creative. I love the drawing of Nora Nibblesworth. It is really that one of your Scallywags books is based on those personal experiences. It takes the story to the next level. I can’t wait till it comes out in April. The tip for this week is great and it really helps turn an ordinary situation into a source of inspiration for a story .

    Hi Sahansa,
    Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you are enjoying the series.All of the Scallywags books have some inspiration from real life. Things are obviously exaggerated and changed to make the stories as interesting as possible.
    FYI, I’m just drawing a picture of a big box of Courage Flakes for the 5th Scallywags book. It’s a breakfast cereal giving you a healthy dose of courage each morning!
    Dr Cameron

    I get it Courage Flakes like Corn Flakes. I love Corn Flakes , it is one of my favourite cereals. Using real experiences from life takes stories to the next level, the reader can kind of relate to them more. But exaggerating them makes them more interesting for the reader. I love the Scallywaggs series and am so excited for the next ones to come out. Now I am on book 2 and it is amazing. I can’t stop readiading.
    Happy holidays!

    Hi Lana,
    Yes, here is the rabbit. Nora loves gnawing and nibbling on things (mainly carrots) hence her name of Nora Nibblesworth.
    Dr Cameron

    Wow, you and I are on the same page so to speak! I’ve finished designing a massive house to live in with my two future beagles Zip and Zap…. now in between reading TinTin and The Meltdown (coldest Diary of a Wimpy Kid so far) I’m daydreaming about a new rack for my bike to carry supplies to the beach for a crazy adventure on our inflatable boat….

    Hi Kalel,
    Sounds like you have a great imagination. I once designed a massive house, too. I now live in it! It doesn’t have any amazing, crazy rooms, but there is heaps of room for books, bikes and board games.
    Keep up the reading,
    Dr Cameron.

    These books sound interesting, Dr Cameron. I was wondering what age group they are for. I am nearly 13, and I was wondering if these books would be too young for me or the right age? The illustrations look really cool! And, that What if game sounds interesting, and a good way to come up with ideas for stories!

    Hi Charlotte,
    I think you would still enjoy the Scallywags at your age. If you want a more advanced read, check out my Pie Rats series. The first book is called The Forgotten Map. There are six books in total. They have a couple of character illustrations, but mainly rely on descriptive language to bring the story to life.
    Good luck,
    Dr Cameron

    I’ll weigh in on this one too!

    Charlotte – I think you will totally enjoy Dr. Cameron’s books. I am… ehem…40 and I read all the Pie Rats books and am now onto the Scallywags series.

    The best way to know if you’re gonna like a book is to just give it a go!

    Happy reading 🙂

    Dr Cameron,
    For a future story….
    Curious Creature Profile: Dr Zara
    Animal: Large brown moose
    Future Pirate Crew: many moose – always the best!
    Strengths: Great at swimming and painting.
    Weaknesses: Unnecessarily fearful of crocodiles and rips.
    Likes: Moose and painting – actually, a painting Moose or painting moose!
    Distinguishing features: Birds nest hair, help – can this be resolved permanently!
    Favourite saying: “What are you having, can I try that?”
    …or maybe, that;s for my future story!

    Hi Zara,
    Thanks for your ideas.
    It sounds like you are well on your way to creating a great story of your own. I haven’t featured a moose in any of my stories yet, but there are several mice in my Pie Rats series. I even named my second daughter after one of them – Emmaline.
    Dr Cameron

    Hello Dr Cameron, I read your blog -which is very interesting, i should get on to reading some of those books of yours!- and i’m in the middle of writing a story of my own, any advice on coming up with a good scene/terrain/landscape? Much appreciated, thanks!

    Hi Hajar,
    I like to create landscapes based on places I have visited – and then make them more extreme. Hotter, colder, scarier than the real thing is often a great way to create tension in your story. Somewhere as simple as a neighbourhood park can be interesting on a moonlit night when the wind is creaking the chains of the swing and a black cat is creeping across the monkey bars ….
    On a lighter note, choose somewhere that smells really nice – like an ice cream shop. Mmm delicious.
    Dr Cameron.

    Hi Cameron
    Nora Nibblesworth looks like she would be good at fencing. ( carrot fencing in this case! ) What gave you the idea for her? What gave you the idea to do the Scallywags and Pie Rats series? When and Where do you get your ideas? Sorry for so many questions I am just curious!


    Hi Madi,
    Yes, Nora is good at fencing. She is good at everything! It does make her a bit annoying at times. I’m not exactly sure where the first idea for Nora came from. I think it was when some friends were secretly keeping a white rabbit in their laundry (rabbits are illegal pets in QLD). I wanted a character who was neither a villain, nor one of the four main heroes. She has a pretty big role in the upcoming book.
    As for the Pie Rats, well, take the word pirates and jumble around the letters. What two words can you create …?
    Dr Cameron

    Dear Cameron
    My brother LOVES your Pie rats books! Just thought I’d let you know… 😉
    Lana Goodall
    P.S It is a shame our library has the whole series except for the last book!

    Hi Lana,
    Ask the friendly librarians to order in the last book of the series (remember to say please). I do that all the time when there is a book missing from a series. I’m glad your brother likes the Pie Rats. He’ll be interested to know that I’m planning on writing the second series this year.
    Dr Cameron

    Pie Rats I am reading The Kings Key. Green is a good colour for Whiskers sword because it’s the same colour as good vegetables and healthy eating is good for me . My mum like Whiskers mum grows fruit and vegetables in the garden. Carrots and cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and the pineapples take forever to grow and we grow Capsicum and cucumber. I would like my mum to meet Faye because its true vegetables would keep me alive.

    After reading the Golden Anchor so many pirate stories and ship and treasures Captain Sabre and all of his cuts and scars is just like a real life kitten who leaves scars on my hands especially when the dog frightens it. He is my favourite character and is the best captain of the horde I would love to own a compass found washed ashore from a pirate ship. The moral compass is a destiny in a part of my book of knowledge. The ship I want to be the captain of and sail is the Black Shadow with Noxious Naomi of the sea scented skunks. Skunks stink and are very handy to clear the room and the captains room.The fox can be my sea farer mate we have a lot in common and love to mine diamonds.

    Hi Jack,
    Great to hear all the comments after you read the Golden Anchor story. Do you have any ideas about what is in the box at the end?
    Dr Cameron

    Dr Cameron

    I think inside the box is a scroll with a declaration and a map .
    On the declaration written in squid ink it says
    The Golden Cheese blocks as heavy as real liquid gold blocks are waiting to be discovered.
    The longer it takes to find the Golden Cheese the tastier the blocks will be because tasty cheese always gets better with age.
    Black Rats Apple Pie ship is needed for transport and holding the Golden Cheese cargo .
    There is a long way to travel Whiskers wants to stock up on gunpowder to guard the precious tasteful Golden Cheese.

    Great answer Jack. Very creative. I can’t reveal exactly what is in the box as it will likely be the basis for the second series. But it will be food related and contain one of Anso’s cryptic clues …
    Dr Cameron

    Underpants are very funny props to use in kids stories. When I was little I invented a superhero called ‘I-wear-my-underpants-on-the-outside man.’ He won’t feature in my stories now that Captain Underpants is around. But I am working on some other silly superheroes.
    Dr Cameron

    Cool! I think thé characters look awesome and twists I love thém what kind of twists do you use scary twists adventurous twists. I would like to know everything about twists.

    Hi Aditya,
    I use mainly adventurous twists and character twists (finding out that someone isn’t who they say they are) in my stories, There are lots of twists in my Pie Rats series.
    Dr Cameron

    Dear Cameron,

    On Christmas I planned on doing a magic show with my brother TOO! At my grandparent’s house. We are really GREAT magicians. My favourite trick is the disappearing toothpick. Do you have a favourite trick?

    Hi Anna,
    My job as a magician’s assistant was to hide under a specially designed table (it had a secret trapdoor in the top). I made things disappear when my brother covered them with a cloth.
    That was pretty much my only trick.
    Dr Cameron

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