Entertainment

Acclaimed author teaches teenage boys art of reading

St Mary's College Year 12 student, Tristan Bazant, 17, (left) has ambitions of becoming an author chats with James Phelan who is conducting workshops at St Mary's College. July 2017
St Mary's College Year 12 student, Tristan Bazant, 17, (left) has ambitions of becoming an author chats with James Phelan who is conducting workshops at St Mary's College. July 2017 Bev Lacey

TRISTAN Bazant has dreams of writing for the stage and screen when he finishes school, but his main challenge right now is learning to read regularly.

The St Mary's College senior was one of hundreds of students to learn handy tips on creative writing and recreational reading habits from James Phelan, one of Australia's most popular young adult authors.

Mr Phelan, who regularly addresses schools in Australia and the United States, provided Year 11 and 12 students with helpful advice for writing as well as how to make time for reading in their week.

Tristan said he has never been a consistent reader, a trait shared by plenty of his friends.

"It's very hard to get boys to read - I didn't start reading recreationally until the age of 12 and I've read very few books in my lifetime," he said.

"I will start reading (James') new series.

"Eventually I want to become a scriptwriter and a story writer, so for me getting those tips it has enhanced my ability to perform in the future.

"All his tips were great - he was actually really friendly and funny with his speech and I think he really connected with the boys and helped all of us, not just those looking to do creative writing."

Author, James Phelan conducts workshops at St Mary's College. July 2017
Author, James Phelan conducts workshops at St Mary's College. July 2017 Bev Lacey

Mr Phelan, who has won critical acclaim for his action-adventure books series like Alone and the Lachlan Fox thriller novels, said the key to appealing to boys was to mix entertainment with education.

"You get used to the different age groups and what jokes will land," he said.

"If I'm talking to full year level rather than an entire school, I just try to be as entertaining as possible.

"There are things that we'll come across that I liken to slipping a pill into the dog food - they don't know it's good for them but it's in there and they're going to learn something.

"You just try to make it as enjoyable as you can, because... it's more about those reluctant readers and getting them engaged."

Mr Phelan said the struggle to get more teenage boys into reading was made worse by what he saw as a reduced emphasis on library resources in schools.

"In a way it's not hard, and it's actually easier than ever because there's so much young adult material, which wasn't around when I was a kid," he said.

"For anyone who hasn't developed a love for reading, it's all about finding the right book at the right time.

"So many schools across Australia and in the United States are getting rid of their librarians and their libraries.

"It's all just going downhill, because if it's not STEM (science and mathematics), schools don't believe it has worth."

St Mary's library technician Cathy Collins said Mr Phelan was an ideal choice for the school because of his broad appeal.

"He's probably one of the most popular authors in our library at the moment," she said.

Topics:  james phelan st mary's college toowoomba



Chief Justice: ‘Bloodlust’ fuelled savage Rocky killing

FATAL STABBING: Rockhampton man Aaron Flenady died after receiving stab wounds.

UPDATE: He was ‘vulnerable and harmless’ when attacked.

What's on around the sporting grounds this weekend

Lyn Kelly in action at the Paradise Lagoons Campdraft, which runs until Sunday.

Paradise Lagoons Campdraft headlines big weekend of sport

What's on across Rocky and the Capricorn Coast this weekend

PARADISE LAGOONS: Evan Acton mid campdraft. The Paradise Lagoons campdraft will wrap up on Sunday.

Plenty of variety in the types of activities on this weekend

Local Partners

Maggie's whirlwind trip around Japan

Cooking icon serves up the best of Japanese cuisine and shows you how to make it at home in her new TV special.

Exploring our complex relationship with the Southern Cross

Warwick Thornton in a scene from his documentary film We Don't Need A Map.

Filmmaker Warwick Thornton explores national identity, nationalism.

Ben will be cooking with Oma

Masterchef 2017 contestant Ben Ungermann.

MASTERCHEF'S last man standing will draw on his Dutch heritage.

Prince Charles and Camilla heading for Qld

Prince Charles and Camilla

It promises to be a holiday fit for a King

Eddie McGuire to come back as Footy Show co-host

Eddie McGuire at the Million Dollar Lunch annual fundraiser for the Children's Cancer Foundation in Melbourne, Friday, Aug. 6, 2015. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING

Footy Show axes Craig Hutchison, Sam Newman survives

Channing Tatum’s cheeky $2400 sex toy prank

Channing Tatum in a scene from "Kingsman: The Golden Circle".

Channing Tatum went all out with his prank this time

Still downloading Game of Thrones? Expect a letter

You mean to tell me HBO want to protect one of the world’s most popular shows?

HBO title holds record as most illegally downloaded show

High-profile townhouse site sells for $3.8m

CBRE's Brendan Robins and Rem Rafter on site at Wurtulla.

Prime 1.5ha Sunshine Coast property set for town homes development

Owner tells of ghostly goings on at old Mackay pub

GHOST STORIES: Several people have died at the Mirani Hotel

Owner says pub is 'definitely haunted'

Developers 'pushing the envelope' with subdivisions

Darren Boettcher.

"When I said the block couldn't be subdivided, he just walked out"