Matakana advertising and TV writer Isaac Thackray has penned his first book for children.
Isaac says he was inspired to write Queen of Muck after reading “about a million” children’s stories to his daughters, Alice and Lila.
“I felt there was a gaping lack of chapter books with great adventures, lots of funny bits, characters that actually have character and girls in the thick of the action,” he says.
To fill that need, Isaac would regularly sit down at a table at The Roastery Café and start typing.
In Queen of Muck two sisters, Lucy and Lily, are desperate to find their missing granddad.
That sets them on an extraordinary journey where they encounter brutes in nail polish, a mysterious bookshop, a child-eating beast, a terrible orchestra and flying chunks of cupcake.
The book is aimed at children aged seven to 12. Isaac says he took the approach that the book had to be lively all the way through, no matter where it was opened. That proved more challenging than writing advertising copy, where it’s only necessary to keep the reader entertained for 20 to 30 seconds.
“It was so much more work, time and coffee than I ever imagined, but I loved every bit of it. I’m already thinking of the next one,” he says.
Isaac says he has felt compelled to write for as long as he could remember. However, growing up in a small farming community “where men were men and rugby was God”, he felt obliged to keep that desire to himself.
One day, he came across an advertisement that ran: “Sex, booze, fast cars. If you can write headlines like this, call us today.”
Isaac responded and embarked on a successful career in advertising. He also wrote the jokes for the TV series Si And Gary’s Now That’s Funny, featuring Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick.
Following the birth of his daughters, Isaac began reading children’s books out loud.
He says he found himself “captured by the magic” of the great ones, and even more so by the idea of writing one himself.
Mahurangi Matters has one copy of Queen of Muck to give away. To go in the draw, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Queen of Muck” in the subject line. Competition closes Dec 15.