The Children’s Book Review | February 13, 2017
Chris Miles’s Selfie with Spurt
I took this selfie in the living room of our apartment. The Kokeshi dolls you can see behind me are souvenirs from a holiday we took to Japan several years ago. There’s four of them; one for every season. At the changing of the season we shuffle them so that the new season is standing at the front. My daughter and I always fight over which one of us gets to do it. At the time of writing we’re in the middle of summer here in Australia: a time of school holidays, flip-flops, endless cricket on TV, and lots of flies.
I wrote Spurt because I was a late bloomer – like Jack in the novel – and it was an experience that seemed to lend itself to exploring issues about body image and what it means to ‘be a man’. I also knew it would provide a lot of opportunities for humor, which is my favorite thing to write. In Spurt there’s cringe comedy, slapstick and wordplay, all of which goes into what I hope is a funny and uplifting story about adolescence and wanting to fit in.
Chris Miles’s Shelfie
This is the uppermost part of the bookshelf nearest to my desk. I guess you could call this my reference and inspiration shelf: dictionaries, lexicons, and books about writing. Two highlights from the reference section are Fowler’s Modern English Usage and Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style, both of which are more fun than they sound, digging deep into subjects with which I have a nerdy fascination, and both of which are enjoyably opinionated and snarky. I have a soft spot for writers with the stylish sense of authority these guys have — perhaps because it’s something I think I lack myself!
The three books on the far right are all about the craft of comedy. John Vorhaus’s The Comic Toolbox and Scott Sedita’s The Eight Characters of Comedy are recent purchases, but Tim Ferguson’s The Cheeky Monkey is a handy little volume I picked up many years ago, and it helped me enormously when I was writing Spurt. It has a terrific section on creating a cast of characters who will reliably generate conflict, story and laughs. It’s designed for situation comedy but I found the principles just as useful for the kind of prose fiction I was aiming for with Spurt: a dialogue-heavy cringe comedy with a sitcom-esque level of heightened reality.
Written by Chris Miles
Publisher’s Synopsis: A boy who’s the last in his class to go through puberty tries to fake it till he makes it through a series of cringe-worthy and hilarious events in this balls-and-all coming-of-age novel that’s Judy Blume for boys!
Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no-bloomer. He’s in the ninth grade, and puberty is still a total no-show.
Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends all winter vacation. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—except then he finds out that it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating and getting girlfriends. Jack is out of luck. But then he comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.
Ages 12+| Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481479721
About Chris Miles
Chris Miles has written several books for young readers in Australia. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in publications throughout Australia. He works as a website designer and developer, and in his spare time he indulges his love of Doctor Who, LEGO®, Dungeons & Dragons, and anchovies. He is a dog person (though not literally).
Discover more books like “Spurt,” by Chris Miles, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with Australian Authors, Coming Of Age, Growing Up, Humorous Books, and Puberty; and be sure to follow along with our Selfie and a Shelfie series.