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I don’t
normally have my best ideas during my kids’ bedtime. Putting three kids to bed
is more perspiration than inspiration – dinner, bath, pjs, books, sip of water,
toilet. No, you can’t sleep with your shoes on. One more sip. You get it.

On this
particular night, my eldest remembered that he had a speech to do the next day.
The topic was, ‘Why kids should rule the world!’

Sigh.

Immediately I
knew this speech was different though. My son was excited by it like no other
speech before. They’d discussed it in class and he was brimming with ideas. 

His
classmates had ideas too. Free lollies from the canteen, longer school
holidays, slides at the entrance to classroom! But also, action on climate
change, protection of endangered animals and strategies to save the Great Barrier
Reef!

Of course, I
thought. Kids love being the boss. Actually who doesn’t love power? World wars
have been fought over it.

And maybe kids
being in charge wouldn’t be so bad after all?

My brain had
started ticking. Was there a story in this?

Not yet. But
my antenna was up.

The ‘what if’
moment came soon after when I saw Ivanka Trump appear at a meeting of world
leaders on behalf of her dad. What if she had been a child, filling in for her dad
as President? I had this image of this tiny girl sitting a table with all these
world leaders.

Then of
course, I saw reports of our own prime minister taking a rather ill-timed trip
to Hawaii. A prime minister who loved wearing Hawaiian shirts and playing the ukulele.

The personal
and political merged. I had a story idea.


How to be
Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five
is the story of eleven-year old,
Harper and her dad, who happens to be the prime minister. Unfortunately,
Harper’s dad is terrible in the role. Soon their family is a laughing stock,
and Dad disappears to a ‘conference’, leaving his phone behind. With her little
sister, Lottie, Harper must secretly take his place and decide on a new policy
before it’s too late.

Harper finds
herself torn between ideas – should she ban plastic bottles? Or make weekends
longer? Can she prove a kid can lead the country better than a grown-up?

This
experience reinforced that ideas can come from anywhere. The inspiration for
this story came from my own house and an event that happened on the other side
of the world. I believe it’s so important for writers to catch the ideas when
they appear. The notes section of my phone is full of my attempts to pin down
story ideas:

Monkey
siblings

Fairy floss

What it means
to be good?

Seesaw

No-one else
would have a clue what I’m on about! And maybe I don’t yet either but that’s okay.
I know some writers prefer to use notepads or journals to record ideas, which
seems far more authorly. Sadly though, the phone is often the closest thing to
me and it’s important to get it down before I get distracted by something else.

The other
thing to mention is that ideas often evolve and become better when you take on
the feedback of others. Not just any feedback, but feedback from those that you
trust, at the appropriate time. I was fortunate that Clair Hume and the
wonderful editors at UQP understood what I was trying to do and had their own
thoughts about making it better.

Ideas are
everywhere, don’t let them get away!

Carla Fitzgerald is a writer, a recovered lawyer and mum of three from Sydney. She studied arts/law at university before working for a judge, in private practice and at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Only after that did she rediscover the great fun of making stuff up and writing it down. Carla is a Books in Homes role model and a coach with the Harding Miller Education Foundation. Her favourite things to do are write, walk, read, eat, and hang out with her family. Not in that order.

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