Overhearing children on the sports field being bribed by their parents to score goals provided just the inspiration for Justin Brown’s latest book.
The Classic Hits radio presenter has his daughters’ soccer and netball games to thank for his new children’s book Shot, Boom, Score!, about a boy whose dad promises to buy him a GameBox if he does well in rugby and cricket.
“From the sidelines I’ve witnessed that bribery is alive and well. You hear things like, ‘Get a try and I’ll buy you a pie on the way home or a movie ticket for a wicket.’”
Justin (39), who gets up at 5am for his breakfast show in Auckland with Stacey Morrison and Jason Reeves, has been writing books for 10 years and has become a top author. His mentor, celebrated children’s writer Joy Cowley, says Justin has created characters in his latest book which young readers identify with.
The hero, Toby Gilligan-Flannigan, hates his name and loves sport. But his plans to score big on the field are continually foiled by his arch-nemesis, the school bully.
Never a target of bullies himself, Justin admits that the initiation for the “Cool Guys Club” in the book is based on his own childhood experience – licking a leaf and handing it to the next boy to lick!
The book has been so well-received, four classes are reading it at his daughters’ central-Auckland school. And his girls, Sophie (9) and Georgia (7), are two of his biggest fans.
“My youngest went to the book shop and said to me, ‘Dad there were three in there the other day and now there’s one.’”
Justin says he always felt quietly confident his latest offering would hit the mark. “Joy says if you’ve written a good book it will find an audience – it might not be this week or next week, but it will.”
On the other hand, he jokes that it could be that he has the mind of a 10-year-old boy which has helped him strike a chord with young readers. “If I’m at a party I’ll be licking the ice cream from the bowl like you’re not supposed to do.”
Justin published his first travel guide, UK on a G-String, 10 years ago. But it seems he may have been destined to become an author from the age of seven when he was carefully making his own books, complete with a recommended retail price and ISBN number on the back.
He’s never been a big fan of fiction and only read his first novels, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and The Beach by Alex Garland, at the age of 25.
“I only ever read Asterix and cricket autobiographies but the message to kids is, it really doesn’t matter what you read – just read,” he says.