Author Interview: Boori Monty Pryor

Boori Monty PryorInterviewing Boori Monty Pryor, Australia’s first Children’s Laureate, for My Book Corner was an honour and a real highlight of my ‘work’.

Boori is a friendly, chatty and inspiring man who, on the day I spoke to him, had just completed three performances at schools – but still made time to speak to me.

His performances at schools, where he teaches children about his culture, have evolved over the years to become very interactive. Boori’s aim is to immerse them in the culture, to encourage them to be a part of it rather than just observers.

Basing his theme around his multi award winning book Shake A Leg, children get to make the milkshakes and pizzas, learn the dances and to ultimately step inside the stories as they become involved. They are not told to copy aboriginal painting styles, but encouraged to make it their own through creating their own interpretations. How much fun does this sound?!

A big thank you to Boori, for taking the time to answer the following questions …

Tell us about you.

No Fuss. Get the job done. I love working with children, seeing their reactions and sharing my culture.

What makes you happy?

Children’s laughter.

Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet?

Within Australia it would have to be Kakadu. Outside Australia I would like to visit the Great Wall of China and America, I haven’t been to those places yet.

Recently I visited somewhere I had always wanted to visit … Italy, where I was able to go inside the Colosseum.

Where is your favourite place to write? Describe it to us.

It doesn’t have to be somewhere special, really it’s the inspiration which is more important. However my favourite coffee bar is SeaBar – I love to sit there, have a coffee, write and look at the sea.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

That would have to be what is put in to education – Aboriginal culture. At the moment it’s an added extra. It should be more dominant and presented as ‘this is your culture’. We’ve not arrived there yet.

What’s the best thing about being a published author?

It would have to be that it provides me with more scope to understand and to be understood.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

“How long have you been black?” – from a child at one of the schools I visited.

Who or what inspires you?

My Parents, my family and the kids I work with.

What is your worst habit?

I shower a lot – so it can’t be that! I need to do my yoga more.

Your favourite word(s)?

Phrases from the kids at the moment:

“That’s amaaaazing!”

“That’s disgusting!”

What’s a typcial day for you, when you are not working?

I like to lie in! After getting up I like to do some yoga, go for a swim then collect the paper, do the crossword and then read a book. I like to catch up with my mates, my godfather, and let them do the talking as I do so much of that in my work!

Shake A Leg by Boori Monty PryorTell us about your next project.

I am planning 2 follow ups to Shake A Leg. The first is Women’s Business which my sisters and cousins are looking at now. The third will bring in Italy. The characters will go overseas, allowing a comparison of sacred sites. I have a great image for a double page spread in the middle, featuring the Colosseum with gladiators and dancing all happening inside! I have such a clear image in mind of what it should look like – I’ll be passing on my instructions to Jan! [Jan Ormerod – illustrator of Shake A Leg].

I have a further plan for a 3 part kids story – focusing on the eyes and mind. It’s a deep, intricate kid’s story.

Just for Fun

Tea or coffee? Soy Chai Latte

Paper books or e-books? Paper books

Vegemite or Marmite? Vegemite

Write or type? Write – freehand.

Poetry or prose? I like a bit of both

Beach or bush? Beach and Bush, I had the best of both when I was growing up, however I am a saltwater man.

Hot or cold? Hot. I love the heat. I love to take my bike out on a really hot day.

Boori Monty Pryor is the author of Maybe Tomorrow, My Girragundji & Shake A Leg.

Boori Monty Pryor - Children's Book Festival 2012

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