Samone Amba makes her middle-grade debut with a new series for budding activists: The Good Times of Pelican Rise. Read on for a Q&A with Samone about Save the Joeys – the timely, original and laugh-out-loud first instalment.

Briefly tell us about your book?

The Good Times of Pelican Rise: Save the Joeys is the first book in a fun new series that is all about growing up, finding community spirit, and using your voice to Be the Change!

Stuck in ‘Club Koala’ every day after school, Grade Sixer Sunday Moon and her besties, Ockie, Lottie and Kirra decide to use their time to raise awareness about issues they find important.

After the terrible summer of bushfires, the four besties start knitting joey pouches to help injured and orphaned wildlife. Together, they build a good news website called The Good Times to help spread the word about their joey project around the Pelican Rise community.

With the help of their friends, a radio station, a whole bunch of wool from the op shop, and a lot of animal memes, Sunday, Ockie, Lottie and Kirra are going to save as many joeys as they can!

What inspired the idea behind this book?

The millions of school kids all around the world who have joined Greta Thunberg in the School Strike for Climate protests very much inspired this series. As well as Greta, there are so many wonderful and inspiring young people who are passionate to make changes and have their voice heard!

During and following the 2019–2020 summer of Australian bushfires, so many people – especially children – banded together to help in any way they could. I found that community spirit to do good and care for animals, the environment and other people very inspiring!

How did you go about developing your characters?

Well, they just jumped into my head! Sunday Moon invented herself, somehow, and then I wrote some profiles and Ockie, Lottie and Kirra introduced themselves! A few years ago, I met a real-life Ockie who loved dancing and wore cool aviator sunglasses to school. That Ockie inspired The Good Times of Pelican Rise Ockie!

What are you hoping readers will take away from your book? 

I hope that readers will see that regular kids like Sunday, Ockie, Lottie and Kirra are able to make big changes by using their voice and speaking up for what they believe in! Anything is possible if you give it a go!

Where can we see the storyline headed next?

Oooh, The Good Times crew are very concerned about the climate emergency … they might even go on strike! It troubles the four besties how, as a society, many of us have way too much stuff and throw it away without any thought. 

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

I vacuum the floor a lot when I write … sometimes I reorganise the fridge and the pantry! I also make lots of cups of tea … then I need to go to the loo because of the tea. In short, I tend to procrastinate and daydream and do almost anything other than sit at my computer. But, when I sit down to write, I write for hours and hours and hours and it’s my favourite thing in the world. Sometimes, I wonder if I go into another dimension where I am hanging out with my characters because time seriously flies!

What were your favourite books as a child?

 I loved (and still love) Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein and Judy Blume books, especially Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge. I really liked funny books about ordinary kids hanging out and having fun with their friends at school and around their neighbourhood!

This Q&A was originally published on Better Reading.