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Oliver Phommavanh

Thai-riffic writers workshop

We have had a couple of very exciting days this week being entertained and inspired by comedic children’s author, Oliver Phommavanh. Oliver is certainly a ball of energy. Students with an enthusiasm for writing joined in an information session with the author followed by the opportunity to complete a writing workshop to take away inspirational ideas for future writing.

Oliver is the first to admit he writes funny kid’s stories and he gets lots of ideas from schools he visits and well as classes he’s taught. We learnt that Oliver is also a teacher. “I write stories that make you laugh,” said Oliver, “and cry (because you’ll be laughing too much)!”

Oliver has written a number of books: Punchlines; Thai-No-Mite; Con-Nerd; and his latest book Ethan which is part of the Stuff Happens sereies of books.

The five members of our Media Team met with guest author, Oliver Phommavanh, to ask those questions everyone really wanted to know about.

William: When you were a boy, what books did you like reading?

Oliver: I loved reading “Sticky Beak” by Morris Gleitzman as well as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. The “Goosebump” books were great and I realy liked the “Tin Tin” books.

Makeeta: What did you do before you became an author, teacher and stand up comedian?

Oliver: I worked at Woollies as a trolley boy. That was during high school and when I went to university, but I also had to study.

Jesma: How old were you when you published your first book?

Oliver: I published my first book in 2010, so I was 27.

Makeeta: How many books did you give to a publishing company before you published your first book, “Thai-riffic”?

Oliver: I tried with a couple of publishers first and didn’t get anywhere. Then I went through an agent and my book got picked up quickly. So two or three before it happened. 

But you just have to keep going: never give up.

Noah: As a kid, did you like writing stories?

Oliver: I was always writing stories. My first story was about a trip to the zoo. But I loved dinosaurs. So I was always writing stories about dinosaurs. I wanted to be a T-rex when I grew up. Rarrr.

William: What inspired you to write your books?

Oliver: My family. And my whacky friends. But my whacky family. Oh, and I was the class clown. Did I mention my family?

I just like to make people laugh.

Cheyanne: Have you written things for your own pleasure?

Oliver: Yes. I sometimes write just for fun in my journal. They’re stories that only I will ever read.

Noah: When you published your first book, did you think you would get famous?

Oliver: I didn’t know I would become famous. When I wrote Thai-riffic, I wrote it to make people laugh, so I wrote it because I love writing. Writing is fun, but it’s cool being famous.

Cheyanne: Who are some of your favourite authors?

Oliver: Paul Jennings! Who doesn’t love Paul Jennings. And Roald Dahl. I love the end of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” when … no I better not spoil it. you can read the ending. And of course Andy Griffiths. 

Jesma: Why did you start teaching?

Oliver: Well, I love writing, I love books, and I love working with kids. I went to uni to become a writer, but then thought being a teacher gave me the chance to do all three. I nearly became a librarian. they get to be with books all day.

Noah: Would you like to write a book with another author?

Oliver: That would be cool. I wonder what Andy is doing right now?

Oliver has been a marvellous and entertaining guest to students from Moorooka State School as well as friends from other local schools: Rocklea, St Brendan’s, Salisbury, and Yeronga.

Over the past two days Oliver has entertained and inspired young writers in our school to simply give writing a go.

Not everyone is going to become a published author, but with a few good ideas, anyone can get great ideas onto paper and come up with some sort of interest, fun and entertaining story for others to read.

It has been wonderful having Oliver at Moorooka State School.

We’re all looking forward to any new books he is working on and can’t wait to read what he comes up with next.

Thank you to Mrs Graham for organising this truly valuable series of workshops.