I am happy to announce today is my stop on the Secrets of an Undercover Activist by Nat Amoore blog tour.
Nat Amoore wrote and directed international award-winning short film Elemenopee. She currently has a feature film and a kids’ TV series in development. Nat was a recipient of the CBCA Maurice Saxby Creative Development Program for 2018. Nat has a kid-lit podcast One More Page, which was nominated for the ‘Best Newcomer’ category at the Australian Podcast Awards 2018. Nat’s debut Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire was a children’s book bestseller in Australia and Secrets of an Undercover Activist won the Environment Award for Children’s Literature. But most importantly, she used to be a trapeze artist and had a pet kangaroo when she was little.
A brilliant, fast-paced adventure that will have you laughing in your seats. Casey Wu tries to stay out of the spotlight, which is why no one would suspect her of being the mastermind behind a string of attention-grabbing pranks at her school.
Together with best friends Zeke and Cookie, she is part of Green Peas – a secret activist organisation designed to make adults sit up and pay attention to important environmental issues. But when the three young activists get wind of a major cover up in their town, things really start to get serious. It’s time for Green Peas to stage their biggest prank yet. This book is hard to put down.
Winner of the Environment Award for Children’s Literature in Australia. Shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2021. Shortlisted for the Young Australians Best Book Awards for Older Readers
Todays’ stop takes the form of an author interview.
What are the underlying themes of Secrets of an Undercover Activist?
There’s a lot going on under the surface of this book. The fun pitch is ‘three kids who are passionate about the environment take down an evil mayor who is trying to destroy their local park using epic pranks’. But like all good stories, ‘Secrets of an Undercover Activist’ is layered and complex. It explores themes of activism, how far is too far, grief, loss, family relationships, friendship and community, finding your tribe, disability representation, self-reliance, making yourself heard, standing up for what you believe in and the grey area between right and wrong. I know that sounds like a lot for one kid’s book but I always want my books to reflect the world kids live in and kids run into all of this and more on a daily basis. I like to create a safe space for kids to explore all the things they are thinking about (and sometimes worrying about) while being lost in a hilarious and adventurous story.
If you were going to be an activist, what cause would you be most passionate about?
Oh this is so hard. There are SO many things going on right now that honestly keep me up at night. I guess I would have to say equal human rights because it’s a big umbrella idea that covers a lot of things that I am passionate about. For everyone to be able to live their lives safely and freely and make their own choices about themselves, their bodies, their relationships and how they live their lives.
How did you develop Cassie’s Wu’s voice?
There is a little bit of me in Casey. I think there is a little bit of me in all my main characters – it’s how I get the authenticity to begin with. But then I really need each character to feel and sound different, especially because I write in first person a lot. So I try and think of someone in my life who aligns closely with my character and channel them as I write. I know a kid who is very intelligent and strong-minded but also a little shy and ‘behind-the-scenes’. I kept her in mind a lot as I was writing Casey. But after I get a decent amount into the story, I find my characters usually take on a life of their own and I don’t have to try anymore, it’s like they speak to me.
What was the most fun scene to write of Secrets of an Undercover Activist?
Oooohhh, a lot of it was REALLY fun to write but if I had to choose, probably the opening scene. It’s based on a real prank at my school assembly and it was so much fun for me to write down what was essentially now a sort of movie scene in my head. In my previous book ‘Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire’ there is a mention of Casey and the alarm clock prank she wanted to do and ever since then I have wanted to write that scene. I think it makes a great opener and we learn so much about Casey in just one chapter. It also makes a really fun read aloud and sets up the tone of the book perfectly. I do have to admit all the pranks were fun to write though because I wanted them to be quite sophisticated and complicated so that took a lot of thought and consideration.
Tell us about your YouTube channel and any other forms of social media you think are useful for authors.
I have mixed feelings about how much social media helps me as a kid’s author (it’s different if you write for adults or teens). Nothing for me has more impact than actually getting in front of kids, connecting with them, making them laugh, getting them excited about reading. But we know this is not always possible. The beauty of things like YouTube is it allows me to connect with readers in remote areas, overseas, during Covid. It also creates content for teachers, librarians and parents to share with kids. So I definitely think you need a presence on social media but I’m not sure it needs to eat up half your life. I would rather spend time WITH kids than on social media or creating online content but, that being said, I love making funny videos and so YouTube (or videos for social content) is where I do dedicate my online time because I believe it is most likely to reach my most important audience – the kids!
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything what would it be?
Well, when I was young, I NEVER thought I would be a writer. I thought authors were super clever people who knew all the big words and knew where all the commas went and what a semi-colon is (I’m still not sure about that one). What I didn’t realise is that the most important part of being a writer is being a great storyteller. The rest you can learn if you want to. So I guess I’d tell my younger-self – ‘You’re wrong. If you want to, you can do it.’ I’d also tell myself to climb more trees while you’re young because people look at you weird when you do it as an adult!
Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about Secrets of an Undercover Activist and writing middle grade?
I think it is a surprising book (at least that’s what people keep telling me). It has everything you might expect – fun, humour, action-filled hijinks and a strong message about standing up and making yourself heard. But it has quieter themes of loss, family, differences, learning about yourself, diverse families, disability representation and finding out who you are. People (adults and kids) often write to me after reading my books to say they were surprised they had to reach for a tissue or about the in-depth conversations they had with their kids after reading it. I love that. I love to surprise a reader. Someone once said that my books were like ‘hiding vegies in the bolognaise sauce’ – I didn’t realise I did that. I just write how I feel. But if kids expect fun and hilarity from my work and then they get that AND a little bit more – then I couldn’t be more stoked!
What are your social media links where can people find out about you and your books?
Great question! Come follow me/check me out, I’d love to see you all online…
- Website: natamoore.com
- Instagram: @nat_amoore
- Twitter: @nat_amoore
- Facebook: @NatAmooreWriter
- YouTube: youtube.com/c/NatAmooreWriter
Where is the best place for people to buy your book in the UK?
I am fortunate enough that there are many places to buy my book in the UK. Fantastic stores like Waterstones of course. Or if you love to support your local indies, then check our bookshop.org. Or just head to the Rock The Boat website and decide for yourself…
Thank you Nat for agreeing to be interviewed as part of your blog tour.
You are VERY welcome 😊
I would also like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for organising this blog tour and inviting me to take part. Thank you.
You can visit the rest of the blog tour here:
And don’t forget you can find out more about Nat Amoore on her website: https://www.natamoore.com/ and follow her on Twitter @nat_amoore on Instagram @nat_amoore and on Facebook @NatAmooreWriter. Check out her podcasts on YouTube at: Nat Amoore.
My book review of Secrets of an Undercover Activist by Nat Amoore is scheduled to appear next month, on Wednesday 31st August, so please keep an eye out for it.