I only have one goal with each new book that I write: it must be better than the one that came before it. It must be faster or cleverer or more intense. It must, in some way, take the kind of story that I like telling to a new, never-before-seen level.
In November of 2016, I launched my first kids' chapter book, Bernard Beagle Kicks Off. It follows the story of Bernard Beagle, a soccer-mad year 6 kid who wants nothing more than to play soccer for his school.
The story ends as Bernard's first season begins, so naturally, there was much more of Bernard's world to explore. After launching Bernard 1, I started writing Bernard 2 almost immediately.
I took inspiration from my favourite author, Matthew Reilly, in my quest to write an even better book. Bernard 2 had to be bigger and better. I had to take Bernard to a new level.
So, I wrote madly in 2017, worked through five soul-destroying edits, and made sure that Bernard 2 was as close to perfect as I could get it. I even bought a new laptop to finish the job!
Bernard 2 is faster, cleverer and more intense. Bernard, Cody and Jack have all grown up, just a little. And they welcome a small cast of new characters to Woodland Bay, just to shake things up.
I can't wait to share this one with you.
Daniel Murphy, September 2018
I'm standing in the school gym with at least fifty red faces staring at me, waiting. This is the Bayview Primary School Disco. My legs are glued together, wrapped in blue jeans sitting so far up my waist that they'd pass as a T-shirt if I added sleeves.
Bernard Beagle Kicks Off, page 160
This is the entrance to Activity Room 1 at Braeview (not Bayview) Primary School. The Activity Room was the inspiration for the disco scene in the final chapter of the Bernard Beagle Kicks Off. Bernard dances in front of about fifty people, learning to overcome a bit of anxiety. Then he moves outside with his friends to wait for his dad to pick him up.
It was in this very room that I experienced a smoke machine for the first time, played Snowball with the girls, danced to S Club 7 and tried to do the Worm. Discos were massive when I was at Braeview! For a $2 ticket, we got about 3 hours of music, a can of soft drink and a slice of pizza. I wanted Bernard to feel the same as I did, that it was okay to dance in front of everyone else, even if it felt stupid!
On Sunday 20 August, I set up at the Port Augusta Undercover Market. The day started with promise but cold and rainy weather must have kept people at home.
One market-goer approached my table and asked if I had a new book out! Her son had finished reading Bernard Beagle Kicks Off and "loved it". Let's just say number two is coming soon ...
By the way ... I sold the iron!
A wave of energy surges through my body. I sprint across the bridge, throw my backpack into the front yard and race across the road. I don't think I can catch up but I have to try.
Bernard Beagle Kicks Off, page 11
You'll find this T-junction at the corner of Tarni Street and Mary Street in Happy Valley.
This intersection provided the inspiration for Bernard's two-storey house on Log Road. The metal fence on the left is where the bridge over the river comes to an end. Then, the river-side path trails off into the distance towards the reserve. In the book, there is no road alongside the path and the river weaves around the back of Bernard's house before reaching the reserve.
I've had a go at drawing the house into the picture!
For some reason, he kicks the ball as hard as he can. It slams into the slippery dip and rebounds out onto the grass about ten metres from the playground. Then Cody walks right up to me and sits on the other swing.
Bernard Beagle Kicks Off, page 108
This is the playground at the edge of the reserve where Cody and Bernard kick the ball together. The way this playground is set up, Cody wouldn't actually hit the slippery dip with his kick because he is unlikely to be approaching the playground from that side. For the sake of the story, lets pretend that the slippery dip is located under the green square closest to the camera!
When I used to kick the ball with my brother and my cousins at this park, sometimes we would blast it into the playground and see where it ended up. No reason. Sometimes we would miss the playground entirely and have to fetch the ball from the creek.
The swing that Bernard is sitting on is just behind the camera. You can see the playground in my previous feature, The Swings.
You know when the corner of your novel's pages get bent or torn - Blog Ears.