Put Joel Slack-Smith’s Roarsome Book on Your Child’s Must Read List

Joel Slack-Smith is a former Lane Cove local (who now lives in Ryde – why Joel, why??), but his kids still attend a Lane Cove primary school. Joel has released a Roarsome Book for kids.  ITC asked Joel about Roarsome and what inspired him to write his children’s book.

What is Roarsome About?

Roarsome is a buddy comedy about an 11-year-old boy named Walter and Roars, his lion-shaped pillow. When the full moon appears, Roars comes to life with only one thing on his mind… FUN! (and food, but technically food is fun, so, close enough).

Walter and Roars end up having a wild all-night adventure involving angry mini-golfers, a fart-powered hot air balloon, and two of the snottiest high-fives ever attempted.

How Long Did It Take You to Write Roarsome?

It took around three months to write. But it’s always hard to say. A lot of writing is thinking, and I reckon I was thinking about this weird pillow for a couple of years before I started typing. But let’s say three months (give or take a few years).

Of course, once I had written the manuscript, the book was only half done. It still needed illustrations. Enter Rebel Challenger, who absolutely nailed it. Scholastic suggested Rebel, and they couldn’t have found a better option. Rebel brought so much comedy and personality to this book, and her sense of humour clearly matches mine, so watching her bring these chapters to life was a thrill. And now I can’t imagine Roars looking any different from how Rebel has drawn him.

My kids were very involved in the book’s development, and in fact the whole inspiration for the book comes from them. My youngest son had a cushion with a lion stitched onto it, and the three of us would sit around at bedtime and makeup stories about a lion who lived in a cushion and came to life when there was a full moon. It was a very positive writer’s room experience (plenty of ‘yes, and’), and we weren’t bound by logic or believability, so the ideas just flowed.

As a result, when I came up with ideas for the book, I would often ask the boys for their feedback. In general, whenever I write comedy for children, I usually think of what will make my kids laugh first.

Is Roarsome Your First Book?

Yes, this is my first book, but I’ve been writing TV scripts for years. I’ve worked mainly in comedy, children’s, animation, light entertainment, reality – a bit of everything really, which is essential if you want to stay employed as a freelance writer.

Getting a book published is not easy, but it’s not necessarily hard. It’s more like something that seems completely impossible, but you give it a go anyway, and then, if you’re very lucky, it can sometimes happen.

So, for Roarsome, it didn’t seem that hard, but of course, a lot of it is about luck and timing. I sent it to Scholastic and they read it, loved it and offered me a deal fairly quickly. So, on this occasion, it all kind of worked out pretty smoothly, and I’m extremely grateful for that!

What Do You Want Your Readers to Get Out of the Book?

I want kids to laugh! I also want to give them action, adventure, and a lot of positivity. And footnotes! We all know kids love footnotes, and Roarsome is full of them (kids do love footnotes, don’t they? Or, wait, is that football? Kids love football! I may have made a terrible mistake).

For parents, especially of younger kids, I want to give them a book they enjoy reading out loud at bedtime. One of my favourite things as a parent (when my boys were a bit younger especially) was reading a book to them and finding it genuinely funny myself. So even though I’m always writing for the kids, I’d like to think parents will get a kick out of Roarsome as well.

Will There Be Another Book?

Yes! Book 2 will be out later this year, and I have plans for several more. As each book is set during a full moon, and there is only one per month, I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a 12-book series, starting in January and culminating in a comedy classic… the Christmas Special.

How long have you lived in Lane Cove/Ryde area?

I’ve lived in Lane Cove/Ryde area for 10 years.

What is your favourite coffee shop in Lane Cove?

My favourite coffee shop in Lane Cove is the one next to the Lane Cove Library. I often write in the library so it’s very conveniently placed.

What is your favourite thing to do in the Lane Cove Council Area?

Apart from dropping bread rolls on River Road and parking on P4 at The Canopy (even when P3 has spots), I like the bushwalks in Lane Cove. Kayaking in Lane Cove National Park is a fun weekend activity too.  ITC Note – if you want to be like Joel and Kayak – Lane Cove now has a Kayak Scheme where you can rent a kayak by the hour – read more here.

ITC also noted that Slack-Smith is a famous name in Lane Cove.  ITC was reading King of the Air: The Turbulent Life of Charles Kingsford Smith, and it was noted in the book that Charles and Amelia Slack-Smith gave the author details of the Longueville house that used to belong to the Kingsford Smith family.  We asked Joel if he was related and he said:

“I don’t know anything about Kingsford Smith. But all Slack-Smiths are related, and yes, they are my cousins, and I know them well.”

As you can see from our interview with Joel Slack-Smith, he has a great sense of humour (and a good knowledge of ITC),  as they say in the classics – do yourself a favour and grab the book.  Roarsome is Dymock’s book of the month – more details here.

The book is available at Burns Bay Bookery Lane Cove.

Roarsome on the Book Shelf at Burns Bay Bookery