Spotlight on Old Scholars - Guy Edmonds

Old Scholar turns his hand to writing children's books

You've been very busy since graduating from St Peters! What have you been up to since leaving school? 

After leaving school I studied film for a year at the Queensland College of Art (QCA), then left that to do acting at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). After graduating from QUT at the end of 2004, I moved straight to Sydney and have lived there ever since. For ten years or so, I worked as an actor on programs including: Underbelly: RazorAll SaintsA Moody ChristmasCampHome and AwayThe Secrets She Keeps and more. On stage, I starred in Holding the Man in Australia and London's West End, and in David Williamson’s Rupert in Australia and the USA. In all, I have fifty stage and screen credits to my name. Around 2012, I started getting interested in writing and directing. I made a bunch of short films, and a feature film, which ultimately led me to co-creating, writing, directing, and acting in the Emmy award-winning comedy series Hardball. It played for twenty-three episodes over two seasons and can be seen all around the world. I've recently co-written a few books, which I'm hoping to turn into shows. I've also written a new series, Dance Spies, about a performing arts school that trains spies, that is close to being made!  

What have been your career highlights? 

Performing in London’s West End was amazing. Getting my first TV series up was incredible. But the best would have to be playing Rupert Murdoch in the show Rupert, because HaiHa Le, the woman who played Wendi Deng, is now my wife and we have two incredible daughters together. 

How did you get into children's writing? 

I was writing loads of ideas with my mate Matt, and we were developing an adult series called Life is Ship, about janitors in space. One day, I said to Matt, “What if this was a kids show?”, and he said, “Heck yeah!”. So, we redeveloped it for kids and started pitching it around. That show never got up, but it sparked something in us for writing kids’ TV. We put together a few new ideas for kids and shopped them around. Hardball caught fire and the rest is history. 

What inspired the Zoo Crew children's book series? 

Matt and I love setting stuff in schools. It's where we spend most of our time as kids, so it's super familiar to our readers. Heaps of funny and memorable stuff happens during our time there, as does heaps of annoying and boring stuff. This combo makes for great story.  

Are any of the characters based on people you know? 

Ha! They all are. But I probably shouldn't say who...   

What do your daughters think of the book?  

They love it. I snuck both their names in as characters, so they're especially fond of those ones.

You have another book, Zombie Diaries, coming out soon and more books in the pipeline. When can kids expect these in libraries and bookstores? 

For a slightly older audience, Zombie Diaries book #1 is out in March 2022, with two more books to follow. Zoo Crew book #2 comes out in May and book #3 towards the end of the year. At this stage, both Zoo Crew and Zombie Diaries are just trilogies. But hopefully, if people love them, we can write more of both series! We love the worlds we have built. 

You've co-written these books with Matt Zeremes. Tell us a little about the co-writing process. 

First, we get together and beat out the story in what we call 'wide shot' detail. It's just a blow-by-blow of the big character and story moments that need to happen. Then we ‘divide and conquer’ and write the first draft of the book/script. Once we've both done a rough first draft of our allocated bits, we come together and 'stitch' it together. We have found that to be the most efficient process for us.  

You're an actor, director, screenwriter, children's writer, and father. Which role do you find the most rewarding? 

They all have their rewards (and challenges), but the only reason I do all the work is so I can create a solid, enjoyable, and fulfilling life for my family. Fam-bam's everything.  

How did your schooling experience at St Peters influence your early choices with regards to study and career? Was there a particular teacher who encouraged you? 

When I was at St Peters, there was a good balance between academics and humanities. The school saw the value in both. Hopefully, it still does! I am a big believer in being an 'all-rounder'. I had two inspiring Drama teachers: Jo Wise and Steve Matthias. They were both great mentors and taught me a lot of foundation skills that I still use today.  

What advice do you have for students aspiring to become a writer, whether it be for screen or books? 

Stick at it. Read, watch, and listen to whatever you can. Study the world. Hang out with people outside your social bubble - you'll never learn anything new if you're surrounded by people who agree with you all the time! Listen to other opinions, try to understand, not judge. And the sooner you realise that writing is as much a science as it is an art, the better you'll become. 

Zoo Crew Review 

by Megan Daley, Lower Primary Teacher Librarian

Zoo Crew is one of the latest junior fiction series to hit the shelves in the Lower Primary Library at St Peters, and it is already providing the laughs we anticipated!  

Narrated by a guinea pig called Gus and set in Bazooglyville Primary School, the first book in the Zoo Crew series introduces us to an endearing but motley crew of friends including Eddie the elephant, Mabel the mouse, Princeton the pig and Echo the eagle. The athletics carnival is GO… and Eddie, Mabel and Princeton have to run, throw and jump their hearts out, so that mean, cheating bully Echo doesn’t win the day - again. 

Young readers will delight in the teacher characters and be shocked by Principal Phaart, a terribly unpleasant toad who would not be welcome at St Peters! Miss Honeybear and her martial arts black belt is fabulous but Miss Lafwanda is my personal favourite character because she is wise, chatty, loves sponge cake with strawberries and is the world's oldest librarian. For readers approximately 6–10 years-old, this is a fast paced romp of a read for kids who love a side serve of jokes and playful silliness with their books. Highly illustrated throughout and with great typography and graphic design, the team behind this book have found the sweet spot between entertainment and clever writing for a young audience. Highly recommend by Mrs Daley’s own motley crew, in particular the cheeky face pictured who loves nothing more than a belly laugh with his bedtime books.  

Zoo Crew is written by Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes with illustrations by Peter William Popple (published in 2021 by Scholastic Books Australia)