‘What is your dream?’ Author Brian Falkner asked a room full of year 5 students. Marine biologist, Hollywood actress, lawyer and a room full of nasty criminals made the list. Falkner had to confess to the marine biologist he didn’t really eat dolphins. Relief spread across her face as if she’d sipped warm milk.
Dreams were something you struggled and strived to achieve, Falkner said. It took years of study to become a marine biologist, actress, lawyer or an author. Falkner reached his dream after 30 years of perseverance and passion for writing stories – releasing his first book The Flea Thing. Students listened as Falkner revealed the story layer-by-layer about a boy, 12, who had an unusual dream. He shared what happened until he stopped at a crucial point. ‘Aaahh,’ chorused the year 5s.
To distract them, Falkner pulled out his story ideas goggles and cast the first of his three magic words authors used to develop their story. First was, ‘What if? What if, all around us were hundreds of ‘cool’ ideas. Even right before us,’ said Falkner as he eyed the students, then glanced at their teachers. Without looking at the teachers, he whispered, ‘What if… your teachers aren’t really human?’ The students eyed their teachers and then Falkner – understanding his meaning.
Falkner’s second magic ingredient was ‘research’ where authors looked out for story ideas. Often they ‘stumbled across cool stuff they didn’t know before’. Falkner used ‘research’ to find his next idea for his second book, The Real Thing. The idea of a secret formula intrigued him. Hence the story of three scientists with the secret Coca Cola formula. After they are kidnapped, a boy is flown across the globe as a ‘taste tester’ to try and work out the secret formula before the kidnappers find out about him. For a second time, storyteller Falkner stopped short again. ‘Aaaaaahhhhh!’ they chorused. Falkner had them at his every word.
The last magical element was ’emotion’ where people wanted to read stories that made them feel connected to the story. Falkner said, ‘Think about real life incidents when writing. Start with something that makes you feel something.’ Falkner shared a powerful emotional experience some 40 years ago, which had students holding their breath and clenching their hand. Another one of his life experiences had come to life through books.
Also technology was fast changing at a pace which Falkner demonstrated for students.
Falkner reminded students that ’Books Change Lives’ when least expected and in unpredictable ways. One book that changed Falkner’s life has allowed him to write full-time — thanks to his International bestseller, ‘The Tomorrow Code’ followed by ‘Brain Jack’. Falkner is a master of suspense storytelling and one that students were keen to learn from.