The trouble with tropical paradises, thought Keith as he sprinted out of the school building, is that everyone’s too relaxed.
This book is very the first sequel I wrote to anything, ever. When I started writing books, I had a rule. If you can’t tell a character’s whole story in one book, you’re not doing your job properly. I know, a pretty dopey rule. If I’d had a word to them, Enid Blyton, Proust, J.K. and Spot could have told me just how dopey.
Luckily Keith, the main character from Misery Guts, told me. In fact he nagged and pestered me so much I threw my rule out the window and started listening to his reasons for wanting another story. Which was mostly that his parents were still misery guts and he had a new idea for cheering them up.
I’m grateful to Keith for teaching me how interesting and fun it is for an author in a second book when a character uses the knowledge and wisdom and insights and paint brushes he got in the first book. And also, that no matter how deeply an author explores a character in a book, it’s always possible to go deeper still in another book.
Perhaps it was this idea of digging deeper that caused me and Keith and his friend Tracey to end up down an opal mine in Worry Warts. That and Keith’s belief at the time that any and all problems could be solved if you could get rich enough. A pretty dopey belief, as Keith discovers before the end of the book. But I still understood his excitement at the idea of finding an opal.
I remember when I first arrived in Australia, a bit older than Keith but just as wide-eyed, how amazing it seemed that rare and precious objects were just lying around waiting for people to pick them up. And they tasted so good, those mangoes.
Worry Warts is available in bookshops and libraries in Australia and New Zealand and elsewhere, and online everywhere.