Ask Michael

Okay, okay, I’ll answer your questions!

Go to the bottom of the page to ask your personal questions or…

…just read the answers to a bunch of questions that have already been asked.

How many books have you written?
72 and counting.

What’s the first book you ever wrote?
An educational book called Ricardo Swaps His Lunch. I wrote it in 2000. My first ‘trade’ book was Maxx Rumble: Crunched! It was published in 2004.

When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for most of my life. When I was a teenager I wrote poems. When I was a young adult I wrote songs and comedy. As a not-so-young adult I have written radio scripts, TV scripts and even advertising copy. But it wasn’t until I was about 37 that I wrote my first children’s book. And I haven’t looked back since.

Why do you like writing books for children?
I’m not absolutely sure, but I think it’s because I have never fully grown up. I make very silly and childish jokes with my own kids. Sometimes, I am more childish than they are – and they’re children! Actually, they are starting to outgrow my humour – which is a problem, because I seem to be stuck with it. Basically, I think I am still quite a lot like a child, so I find it fun to write for children.

Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas are everywhere. I get ideas from the people I meet, the books I read, the radio shows and podcasts I listen to, TV, films, newspapers, friends, family, everyone and everything. I see ideas when I’m walking in the street. I overhear ideas when I am in a crowd. I am always steeling ideas from my children (sorry kids). It’s like I’m surrounded by ideas! The hard part is knowing which ones are worth noting down and using – then working out how to combine them in a new and interesting way.

Are the characters in your books based on real people?
Some of my characters are partly based on real people, but most aren’t. Sometimes, I really like something about a person I know, so I include that likable trait in a character’s personality. But I don’t ever take the whole personality of a real person – I just take a few choice bits. At the same time, lots of my characters are not based on any real people. They’re just made up.

How do you invent characters that will appeal to children?
The first thing I do is try to make my characters funny. I think that makes them appealing. I know I find funny people very appealing.

I also tend to make them enthusiastic. Maxx Rumble is extremely enthusiastic about sport and telling stories. That’s why he sometimes gets a bit carried away when he’s telling stories about sport. It’s also why he sometimes exaggerates. He just wants the story to be as exciting as possible – even if it’s not entirely true.

Josh and Phil Undy are also very enthusiastic. They love life, and playing games and winning – but not so much that they cheat. I think their enthusiasm and love of life makes them appealing to children.

Who are your favourite writers? And favourite books?
My favourite children’s authors (in no particular order) include:

  • Dav Pilkey
  • Paul Jennings
  • Roald Dahl
  • Eoin Colfer
  • Charles Dickens
  • CS Lewis
  • Andy Griffiths
  • Dr Seuss
  • Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • RenΓ© Goscinny
  • Oh, and my wife, Jane Godwin!

My favourite children’s and young adult books include:

  • Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger,
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Big Honey Hunt by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline
  • and many, many more.

What do you use to write your books?
I take notes in a journal, then write on a computer. I have a Mac, even though I used PCs for years.

What is your favourite food?
My favourite foods are sashimi (Japanese raw fish – yum!), salmon (I eat it several times a week), chocolate (I have to stop myself from eating it every day!) and mangos (which are messy).

What are your hobbies?
I love watching, listening to and reading about sport. I particularly love Australian Rules Football and cricket. I love listening to music, particularly pop and rock. My favourite bands include the Killers, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen, Blink-182, Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello and The Clash. I also love reading and listening to talking books. And I enjoy walking with my iPod and listening to audio books, podcasts and music.

Do you have any pets?
We don’t have any at the moment, but we have had a cat, two guinea pigs and many goldfish.


  • Hi Michael (hey you’re not me are you?). I’m working on a heap of things right now. I’ve got a comic-horror-weird-action series on the go. And a series about a boy called Mack McCoy. And a secret Maxx Rumble thing that I can’t talk about at all just yet, or even hint at on the Maxx Rumble pages of this site! Thanks for your question Michael.

  • I am, Holly. I’m married to another children’s author in fact. Her name is Jane Godwin and she’s written many amazing books, including ‘All Through the Year’ and ‘Today We Have No Plans’. I’m a very lucky guy!

    • Hey Charlotte. Hmm? That’s a tough one to answer. I actually love all of the series I’ve written (Maxx Rumble, The Undys and Ted) . They’re a bit like my kids – each one’s different from the other, but I love them just the same. Let me know if you have a favourite. πŸ™‚

    • That’s great to hear, Charlotte! Good on you. If you feel like saying what you like about The Undys I’d love to know.

    • Great question Olivia. I love writing because:
      1. it allows me to express myself
      2. I’m really interested in language
      3. it’s way better than a real job
      3. it makes me feel calm and peaceful
      3. it’s fun, except when it makes you cry, but that’s actually fun too
      7. I’m not good at other things, like maths.

      Do you love writing too?

  • I do have to say that I have been writing books since I was in prep and I love it.

    Why do you love writing so much?

    • Aw, that’s so nice to hear! Thanks Olivia. I’m proud of those books because I think Ted is a sweet little guy … I mean bear … I mean toy.

    • That’s great Olivia! I hope you like them. I won’t give too much away, but there are two quite fun robbers in one of the stories!

  • the reason i love writing is
    1. you can use your imagination
    2. you can make- up silly characters
    3. its anything that you can writ about
    4 . its fun
    5. i just LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Matthew.
      That’s a great question. I think the character who’s most like me is Rexx Rumble – he’s Maxx Rumble’s little brother. He’s a little guy who’s very determined, which is sort of what I was like as a kid. As for the character I’d most like to be, I wouldn’t mind being Oscar Cramp (from the Undys). He’s not a great looking guy, but he’s got a big heart and he’s the 7th strongest man in the world! That’d be nice. πŸ™‚

  • I just finished reading DOG WARS and I am DESPERATE to find out what happens next. And is there a sequel? That’d also be nice. ????

    • Hi Matthew. A sequel would be great, but I just don’t think I can do it! It took me three years to write Dog Wars and I haven’t been able to bring myself to write a sequel ever since. I’m worried it’ll take just as long. Sorry about that. But what you might be interested to know is that Faydo was going to return to the dogs just as a much bigger war broke out. And he was going to put his knowledge about fighting to some good for once by leading Strongdog’s army to victory. Or something like that. πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the book!!! M

    • Well, it’s a bit of a tough road, but it goes roughly like this:

      1. write something great
      2. get some trusted friends or family members to read it and suggest ways of making it even better
      3. make it even better
      4. go to a bookshop or library and look for books that are a bit similar to yours, especially ones for the same aged kids
      5. look inside a heap of books that are a bit like yours to see who’s published them (writing down the publisher and their website)
      6. visit each publisher’s website and search around for a page of instructions for ‘manuscript submissions’ or something like that
      7. follow their instructions, which will include an email or postal address to send your story to
      8. once your story is out, forget about it and start writing something new – that way, you won’t get too nervous or stressed waiting for your replies, and if you get rejected (which almost always happens!), you’ll be able to comfort yourself with the knowledge that what you’re writing now is WAY better than that old one anyway.

      Good luck with it Matthew!

    • Hi Matthew. Well it wasn’t easy to come up with the 24 games in the Undys. I got ideas from a number of places, including my memories of playing made-up games as a kid, lots of Internet searches for funny games and sports, and ideas from my own children and students and teachers. I tested out quite a lot of the games by playing them with my children. My son easily beat me at tow wrestling, because he has size 14 feet. Impossible to budge! πŸ™‚

  • dear Michael

    I met you at st pauls primary school in Monbulk today I wanted to no what is the new book you are working on and what is it called. also how long does it take you to write a book. and what is your favourite max rumble book called.

    • Hi Isabella!! I’m working on a couple of books at the moment, but I feel I should keep them a bit secret for now. The one thing I’ll say is that one of the stories I’m writing is called Crystal and Captain Schnicko. It takes different amounts of time to write different books – from a few days to a few years, depending on how long the book is and how many drafts I need to get it working well. And my favourite Maxx book from the ones that are already published, is Grand Final Fever. Thanks for your questions Isabella!!

  • Dear Michael,
    you came to Viewbank Primary School and we met on the 28/08/13 and told us some the team chants from max rumble and you ask the teachers if they like the one by the pirates an they said they did not like it it was to bad!!

    from Ashleigh!!!:):):):):)

    • That’s true, Asheleigh. That Pirates chant is about the meanest chant in the history of soccer, so I’m not surprised the teachers thought it was too bad. Funny thing is though, the kids seemed to like it. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Levi. I guess I’ve been a writer since I was a teenager – writing poems, songs, radio programs, TV shows, etc – but I started writing books shortly after a publisher asked if I’d like to give it a go. I’m very glad she called me, it’s given me an enormous amount of enjoyment every since!

    • I certainly did, Matthew. Especially as, even if it sold well, I wouldn’t have received any money for a year or two after finishing it. Best to always have a Plan B, particularly when it comes to money.

      Thanks for the question!

    • Hi Glen. I’m afraid we’re not doing any more Undys books for the time being. But there are six out there, so lots to get through! Thanks for writing!

    • I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed them, Glen. And that you’ve made it through all six. Maybe we’ll make some more in a while, but certainly not any time soon. Sorry about that. Hey, who’s your favourite character in the series? Mine is Oscar Cramp because he’s big and strong, but has a very gentle heart. And maybe Ricky Silva too because he learned to be brave.

  • Hi Michael, do you run out of ideas too? sometimes i do, whenever i cant think i just take a quick break and get some fresh air and sit.

  • I do run out of ideas sometimes, Mercy (?), and just get plain stuck at other times. That’s when I take a break and let my mind clear. Getting some fresh air is a great thing to do – as is just sitting, or even doing something around the house. The funny thing is, once you’ve stopped thinking about something for a while, the solution often comes very easily.

  • Hi Michael,

    Just wondering what children’s age (approx) do you recommend your books?
    Ted? Undys? Maxx Rumble?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Hi Nicole. Thanks for getting in touch. The age range for my books is quite wide, but as a general rule I’d say…

      Maxx Rumble 7-10 (although plenty of older and younger kids read them)
      The Undys 10-12 (but again, lots of younger and older kids seem to like them)
      Ted 6-9 years of age.

      I hope that helps. πŸ™‚



  • I think your Maxx Rumble books are awesome because they’re funny and I love AFL and Cricket as well as Maxx

  • Hi Michael

    I am looking for books to get a 13-14 year old boy, who is a cricket fanatic, to read fiction. Do any of your books fit this age group bill? or, if not, can you help me with some suggestions,please?
    Many thanks


  • hey michael i love your maxx rumble book series what do you think is better foot or cricket?

    ps: what charcter would you say maxx is

    cheers josh

    • Hey Josh. Thanks for getting in touch!! I’m so glad you like the Maxx Rumble books. I’m not really sure which series I like best – there’s actually a 3-book Soccer series as well, which I think might be funniest of all, but I feel quite proud of all three series so it’s hard to say which is the best. Do you have a favourite?

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by ‘What character would you say Maxx is?’, but if you mean what sort of person is he, I’d say he’s very resilient (that means he does not give up easily, he keeps going even when things look REALLY bad), he’s a big exaggerator (which means he gets a bit carried away when he’s telling a story and maybe doesn’t always stick to the truth – but only because exaggerating makes the story more fun and exciting) and he’s very kind-hearted, because he loves his little brother Rexxy so much.

      Is that what you were wanting to know, Josh?

      Thanks again for writing,


  • Hi Michael,
    You came to my school this week and you were fabulous I now really want to read all of your book especially your new one so wrong

    • That’s wonderful, Dakota. I’m so glad you’re inspired to read more books!! I loved visiting your school by the way.

  • Hi Michael,
    You recently came to my school. Actually it was this week I think on Tuesday the 16th. You are really good and incredible I liked your football video by your daughter. I really want to read so wrong it looks and sounds good you are a really good wrighter at the moment I am now reading The Undies Wet and Wild it is good (well since Tuesday)

    • Hi Finn. I wrote my first books because an old friend started her own children’s publishing company and she was looking for new authors, because I’d already written some TV scripts for kids shows, she asked if I’d like to give book writing a go. I did and haven’t stopped ever since.

  • Hello Michael.
    I’ve just bought ‘Why I Love Footy’, a birthday request of my son’s friend. I love it and I’m not even that much of a footy person! My question is, are you going to write a cricket equivalent? I sincerely hope you do.
    Kind regards, Helen.

    • Hi Helen. Thanks so much for your lovely feedback. Sorry it’s taken a while to reply – it’s been a really busy time.

      There is definitely going to be a follow-up to Why I Love Footy (maybe more than one), but I’m afraid the focus of the next one won’t be cricket. Sorry about that. It’s going to be something a bit more general, but I’d better not say too much just yet. πŸ™‚

      But, as I’ve been a cricket tragic all my life, I reckon that might come one day too.



  • Hi Michael
    My son loved meeting you at a school recently. I had wished you were selling books on the day signed copy. Do you offer this as possibility?

    • I do, Sue. If you like I could post you something. Have a look at my Bookshop (on this site) for details. Or get in touch via the Contact page if you’d like to discuss it further. πŸ™‚

    • I’m not offended at all, Melda. But it’s a very difficult question to answer because people who create things like books for a living, get paid royalties for each item they sell. In other words, whenever one of my books is sold anywhere in the world, a little bit of money is put aside for me. That means my income changes every year, often by quite a large amount, as a result of the number of my books that are sold. I hope that helps.

    • Sorry, Harry, but we’re out of that book at the moment and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get more, so sadly I’m unable to sell it to you. But if you like longer books, you might enjoy So Wrong. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Ethan.

      1. My dad won Tattslotto when I was 14 years old.
      2. I used to sing in a band that almost became famous.
      3. The first time I ever flew in a plane, I jumped out (and almost landed on a sheep).

  • Hi Michael,
    We met at the Gateways Challenge in October this year. I really enjoy writing too, because you can use your imagination and creativity, as well as express you emotions. When did you decide that you wanted to become an author, and did you have any previous jobs before? Another question is that if you couldn’t be an author, what job would you have? Also, do you enjoy reading your own books after it has being published?

    • Hi Selina. Thanks so much for getting in touch. I’m so glad you like writing and find it helpful and enjoyable in many ways. I do too. It makes life so much better. Now, in answer to your questions …

      1. I became an author when a friend asked me if I’d like to write a couple of books for her new publishing venture. Before that, I’d written all sorts of different things, but never thought I’d end up a children’s author. I’m so glad I got that very lucky break!
      2. Before becoming an author I worked as a radio broadcaster with the ABC (10 years) and did other radio production/presenting work for a couple of years before that. I also worked as an usher in a movie theatre for a few years when I was very young, and did all sorts of other writing work in between being a radio broadcaster and becoming a children’s author.
      3. I’m not sure what job I’d have if I wasn’t an author, but it’d probably involve making screen-based programs and content, like websites, TV shows, etc.
      4. I sometimes enjoy reading my own books once they’ve been published, but I always feel a little anxious when I open one of them up, just in case I feel like I could have written it better.

      Thanks again for getting in touch. I hope to see you at the GATEWAYS finals!!



  • Hi michael,
    I absolutley love your books (even though I’ve only read one) !
    I also have some questions for you to answer (if you can)

    1. Where do you write your books?
    2. How many books have you written in the past few years?
    3. What is your favourite book you’ve written so far?
    4. How long have you had your writing career?

    I also read the: what is your favourite food. question…looks like we have a few things in common!
    I also like to write as well…BUT NOT AS MUCH AS YOU!!!!

    PS. I don’t have a website.
    PPS. I also like to draw.

    • Hi Ariella. Thanks so much for your comment and questions. Here are some answers for you …

      1) I write my books in my study at home, but I takes notes wherever I am when an idea arrives. I write my notes in a notepad or something on my phone and I write my stories on a computer.
      2) I’ve had 77 books published so far – 5 of them in the past three years

      3) I probably like the So Wrong books the best so far, but I feel proud of all the books I’ve written.

      4) I’ve been writing children’s books for 18 years, but have been writing (for radio, songs, comedy, TV, etc) for 33 years.

      So glad you like writing Ariella and the more you do it, the more enjoyable it becomes, mostly. πŸ™‚

    • There are actually six books in the Undys series, maybe check your local library to see if they have the other four. They should be there. And they’re fun all the way through I think. πŸ™‚

  • Hi Michael
    How did you think of Pig Dude ? Please could you write a Pig Dude collection ? . I just love Pig Dude! Is there only one Pig Dude book.?

    thank you very much

    • Hi Tilly. I’m so glad you like Pig Dude. I really like the funny little guy too. πŸ™‚ I got the idea for him when I was doing a workshop with kids and a young guy called Sebastian showed me his story. It was called Pig Dude and was about a half-pig-half-boy who wanted to fly. It was so funny, I went home and wrote a story of my own about it, then (after a lot of trying) got in touch with his mum and asked if I could pay Sebastian for giving me such a great idea to work with. He was very happy to know his idea had become a book, and to have a bit of money in his savings account, and his mum was thrilled too, and I was so happy to be able to thank him properly. I’m so glad all of that happened and I got a fun book to show for it. As for another book, I haven’t quite got an idea that I’m ready to write yet, but I’m still thinking. Let’s hope I come up with something soon. Thanks for getting in touch, Tilly. Cheers, Michael

  • Hi Michael,

    My son Josh loves your Maxx Rumble books and has chosen you as his favourite author for a poster project while we are homeschooling during COVID-19.

    One question he has been asked is what are your values. What’s important to you Michael both as an author and more broadly a person?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Clare.

      Thanks so much for getting in touch. I’m so pleased Josh likes the Maxx Rumble series. πŸ™‚

      Re my values (and what a great question!) …

      As an author, I feel I have a responsibility to leave young readers with a sense of hope. That’s very important to me. So, not matter what difficult things happens to my main character, things always work out well. I believe that’s a really important part of my job as a children’s author – to generate more hope in the world, not less.

      As a person, I try to live by many values, including being as honest and authentic as possible as often as possible. It can be a really difficult value to uphold, and I still get it wrong often, but it seems really important to me to be true to myself as much as possible. And it’s surprisingly empowering.

      I hope that helps both you and Josh, Clare.



  • Hi Michael I’m Tatiana and i am from Mother Teresa school I love your books so much how did you think of so much good ideas to write in your books.

    • Hi Tatiana. Thanks for your question, and your kind words. I get my ideas from keeping a close eye on the world around me and trying hard to notice anything that might be useful to include in a story. But I also keep a close eye on the little thoughts that pop into my head all day long. Amongst all the silly things that pop into my mind are some story ideas that could be useful. And whenever I notice something interesting, in the world or just inside my head, I write it down in a journal so I don’t forget it. My journals are full of ideas for stories, and the best ones usually end up as books. Pretty easy, right. You could do exactly the same thing I reckon, Tatiana. I hope that helps. Cheers, Michael

    • Hi Adien. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to visit because of the latest lockdown. But I hope I get to either visit in person or talk to you on the screen some time soon. And I also hope you’re having a great weekend. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Anita. Sorry about the late reply, but for some strange reason I’ve only just been alerted to this!! Why I Love Summer probably best suits 5-8 year olds. Cheers, Michael

  • Hi Michael
    My son absolutely loves the maxx rumble books. We have the set of 8 footy books in 1, but I noticed there are actually 9. I cannot for the life of me find ‘grand final fever!’ Anywhere!!! Is there anyway to read this and why wasn’t it included in the 8-1? ? thanks so much!!

    • Hi Cath. Sorry for the insanely late reply. I’m afraid Grand Final Fever is now out of print – after 17 years or so. I’m really sorry about that. I might try to read it on my YouTube channel for anyone who’d still like to see it. Maybe keep an eye out for that if you like. πŸ™‚



  • Hi I’ve got a few questions
    1. What made you want to write?
    2. How long have you been writing for?
    3. What made you want to write children’s books ?
    4. How old where you when you started writing ?
    And 5. Why dose Tom Jellett illustrate most of your books?
    Anyway hope you can reply soon thanks bye ?

    • Hi again Lexi. I think I’ve answered most of these questions now, except one …

      5. Why dose Tom Jellett illustrate most of your books? Because he’s an awesome illustrator and his drawings just happen to be a really good match for my words.

  • Hi I have a few questions
    1. Who or what inspired you to write ?
    2. Why do you like writing childrens books ?
    3. How long have you been writing for ?
    4. What is your favourite book you have written and what is you favourite book someone else has ?written ?
    5. How many other authors do you know ?
    6. What genre of books do you prefer?
    7. Do you plan to finish your next story or continue in another book ?
    8. Do you like dogs ?
    9. Have you had a dog before ?
    10. Why where you a author and not a illustrator ?

    • Hi Lexi. Sorry for the late reply. Here goes …

      1. Who or what inspired you to write ? I saw a documentary about refugee when I was about 14 or 15 and felt inspired to write a poem. That was my first piece of writing and I ended up winning a little prize at school. That was very encouraging.

      2. Why do you like writing childrens books ? I really find it fun to write for children, because you can include a lot of humour and imagination.

      3. How long have you been writing for ? I’ve been writing different things for about 44 years!!

      4. What is your favourite book you have written and what is you favourite book someone else has ?written ? I think I like my So Wrong series the best of all my books – but they’re also the silliest. πŸ™‚ I love lots of children’s books written by others, but if I had to name one favourite it’d probably be The Big Honey Hunt.

      5. How many other authors do you know ? I’m married to one (Jane Godwin) and probably know another 20 or so.

      6. What genre of books do you prefer? I like realistic fiction and non-fiction the best.

      7. Do you plan to finish your next story or continue in another book ? I always plan to finish any book I start, even if it takes months.

      8. Do you like dogs ? Yes I do, especially golden retrievers and French bulldogs.

      9. Have you had a dog before ? I had a dog when I was a kid (which was a mongrel) and I now dog-sit the dogs owned by my adult children.

      10. Why where you a author and not a illustrator ? I’m not a very good drawer and I actually prefer playing with words, rather than illustrations.

      Thanks Lexi. Hope that helps!

    • Probably dogs because they’re so full of life and enthusiasm and they never complain about things, they just get on as best they can.

    • Well it’s a toss-up between yellow and blue. Yellow because it’s such warm and happy colour, and blue because it’s the colour of the big, wide, beautiful, sunny sky. What’s your favourite colour, Sienna?

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