Chris Miles

Published February 7th 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

YA > Contemporary | Humor

Purchase links: Amazon | BN | TBD 



Balls and all!

Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no bloomer: an eighth grader, 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—until he finds out it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating. 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.



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What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on SPURT

I always feel that I never read enough fiction as a kid, or perhaps that I didn’t read widely enough. The things I did read, though, I read very deeply and obsessively.

Up to the age of ten I mostly read Garfield and Peanuts comics, Doctor Who novelisations and Mad magazine. Later on I was obsessed with the Douglas Adams Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy series and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I’m a fairly anxious, melancholy person, and funny books and funny things in general were a great comfort and relief for me when I was growing up — and still are.

There was one particular book that my dad owned which I read over and over as a younger kid, and which I think was a big influence on Spurt. It was a book called The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, and it contained scripts from a British sketch comedy show from the Seventies.

The thing about these sketches was that they were full of misunderstandings, complications and verbal wordplay. I never actually saw any of these sketches on TV, only in print. But in reading them I think I got a sense of how to convey comic timing with the written word, as opposed to performance. While a lot of Spurt is inspired by more modern cringe comedies, there’s also a lot that reflects my love of this more old-fashioned style of comedy — such as the scene where Jack gets some advice from the school counsellor, Mr Trench, or when Jack has a serious miscommunication with his mum during a phone call.

I also used to listen to old audio recordings of Monty Python sketches and actually write out the dialogue by hand. I think it helped me develop the ability to feel the rhythms of a good sketch — or in the case of fiction, a good scene. Comedy sketches are usually a series of very rapid reversals of expectation, twists of logic and escalating moments of conflict, and these are all excellent techniques to deploy at the scene level in narrative fiction, as well as at the big picture structural level over the course of a novel.





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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).






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