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Mat Larkin


Mat Larkin is a writer of middle-grade adventure stories where the not-quite-ordinary meets the nearly-impossible, from Zac Power to The Orchard Underground and beyond.

Where were you born?

I was born in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, and raised in the first house built on the first street of a brand new neighbourhood. I fell out of trees and into dams, and chased rabbits until bulldozers chased me so they could level it all and fill it with more suburb.

What other jobs have you had?

My first job was smashing wooden crates with a crowbar in a factory all day on my own, and it’s been hard for any job since to live up to it. I’ve driven forklifts, sold books and run poker tournaments, been a mental health writer, a magazine columnist and, briefly, the world’s least informed sports journalist. Now I’m a novelist, and I smash chapters with a crowbar all day, on my own. It’s pretty great.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Empathy, especially when it’s hard. How failing is useful. The absolute necessity to throw yourself into adventure, while you can. Impossible choices, and how to make them. How to belong, and how not belonging changes you. Weird animals. Monsters that, when you shine a torch on them, turn into something else entirely.

What have been the highlights of your career?

3) The day The Orchard Underground was published.

2) The day a kid drew me a picture of the main character, Attica Stone, and it was *perfect*.

1) The day a kid hugged me and said I was her favourite writer.

Where have your works been published?

Zac Power is published in a zillion languages round the world; The Orchard Underground has been published in Dutch as De Ondergrondse Boomgaard.

What are you passionate about?

The distance between a published author and kids making up stories in their lunch break is far, far smaller than most people think. Kids are brilliant storytellers: wild, inventive and unlimited in their imagination. I want to help them protect and nurture that playful genius with tools that are frameworks, not strictures, for play.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I pop up here and there: I had two sessions with school kids at the 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival, an interview at the 2018 SLAV State Conference, and a terrific conversation with Sally Rippin on her and Adrian Beck’s video podcast, The KidLit Club.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am bad at riding a bike, but make amazing toasties.

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