Just Andy

Guest Post by Katrina McKelvey

I’m a self-confessed reluctant reader. I know what it is like to do anything to avoid reading. As a child I climbed trees instead.

Andy Griffiths has showed me how to love books. He’s my inspiration! Here’s how it all happened …

‘Laughter is the reward for even the most reluctant reader.’ – Andy Griffiths 2014

The year was 2002

I discovered the power of books well into my teacher career. I can’t remember how, but ‘Just Tricking’ by Andy Griffiths landed on my desk. Over the next few years my class and I would lie on the floor after each lunchtime and soak up every word of the ‘Just’ series. It was a powerful bonding experience.

SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2011

Not long after I started my journey of writing for children, I learnt Andy was going to be at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I was so going!

I sat in the lecture room mesmerised as he spoke and read from his books. I laughed as much as the children. I was uplifted. However, I was too shy to approach him, take a photo or line up for a book signing.

BYRON BAY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2012

The following year I was given a trip to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival for my birthday. Andy was going to talk to adults and mix with the kids.

As he had talked a lot about ‘The Bad Book’ at the SWF the year before, I bought a copy and went to line up to get it signed. By the time I got there, he’d gone.  I’d missed out. I was devastated! Within minutes the most amazing thing happened – THE MOST AMAZING THING!!!!

I saw Andy on his own so I plucked up the courage to go and speak to him. He talked to me – no lines, no people, just us. We chatted about my former teaching career and how to navigate my new writing career.  OMG! The conversation was mind-blowing. He signed my ‘The Bad Book’ in the most unusual way too.

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Then he went riffling through his bags. He pulled out and gave me some sample exercises from his upcoming book, ‘Once Upon A Slime’. No way! Then Morris Gleitzman joined the conversation, followed by John Marsden. NO WAY! There I was having a conversation with Andy, Morris and John in a paddock out the back of Byron Bay. HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE! And my biggest regret … no photo!

CBCA NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2014

Two years later I met Andy again at the CBCA National Conference in Canberra. I took my 1999 copy of ‘Just Tricking’ for him to sign – the copy that landed on my teaching desk in 2002.

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I also asked him to sign ‘The Very Bad Book’ for my son in a very special way. Looks familiar?

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He also signed, ‘The Day My Butt Went Psycho’ with a special message for Aidan on his 8th Birthday.

For Aidan. Have a really smelly 8th Birthday. Andy.

For Aidan. Have a really smelly 8th Birthday. Andy.

Photos weren’t allowed in the signing line so I high-jacked him in the foyer of the conference venue. He was very obliging and he even introduced me to his publicist. She took the photo!

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BYRON BAY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2014

Later the same year, I returned to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival . We had another chat and I got a few more books signed. From there, we agreed I would be known as ‘Katrina from Newcastle’.

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SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAL 2015

Earlier this year I attended the SWF again. I took my son as he is also a huge Andy Griffiths fan. After an early start and a long train trip we arrived to discover we had missed out on getting into his session so we listened and peeked through a gap in the wall of red curtains.

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We waited for nearly two hours to reach the top of the signing line. Aidan had his special moment … another one for me too!

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Andy asked me how I broke my arm. I told him I fell out of a treehouse! I actually fell out of my own house – down 2 steps into the garage – but I thought it was funny! He does humour better than I do.

My next mission? To catch up with Terry Denton. We’ve already met but that’s another story.

Melbourne 2013.

Melbourne 2013.

I hope others have had similar experiences as I have. I’d love to hear about them.

Written by Katrina McKelvey, author of ‘Dandelions’ to be released October 2015.

www.katrinamckelvey.com

** Thanks Katrina! An awesome read. **

*** Andy Griffiths is celebrating his birthday today! Happy Birthday from everyone at Just Write For Kids Australia! 😀 *** IMG_9481

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2 Comments

Filed under Events, Guest Posts

2 responses to “Just Andy

  1. I love it Katrina. What amazing experiences you have had. As a teacher I also would after lunch have kids laying in beanbags and on the floor listening as I read the ‘Just’ series of books back around 2002 also. Great memories. Good luck with your Terry Denton adventures and your own writing.

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