Nat Amoore has come a long way since her time on her parents’ farm in Merricks North and school days at Toorak College in Mount Eliza — a surreal fact we’re sure hit home when she recently revisited Toorak College as part of her book tour for her first middle-grade novel Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire, published by Penguin Random House in June, with a second book due in 2020. The Sydney-based writer is passionate about encouraging kids to read, write and explore their own imaginations without boundaries.
Nat’s career path is diverse and full of adventures. She is an accomplished entertainer and presenter for children as well, and it all began just three days after turning 18. She travelled to Indonesia for a trial period as a trapeze artist. There she was accepted, and stayed on as a trapeze artist and circus performer. This in a way fulfilled her childhood dream of joining the circus that she’d had during her time at Red Hill Primary School. She literally ran away and joined the circus. Thankfully, she had a natural talent for trapeze due to her water-ski pastime as a kid, so her time at the international resort chain Club Med lasted nine years. It was almost a decade-long gap year that saw her become the entertainment manager where she would write for stage performances, which ultimately ignited her storytelling career.
Back in Australia, Nat moved to Sydney to study film and TV production, but found writing for film and television in Australia frustrating and restrictive. She yearned for freedom without budget restraints. When she wrote, she could include anything she created without inflating costs, from fire-breathing dragons to elaborate action scenes with explosions and helicopters.
In February 2018, Nat added a podcast to her extensive resume, called One More Page. With fellow writers Kate Simpson and Liz Ledden, she reviewed, interviewed and ultimately encouraged kids to get excited about books. They’ve reached 30,000 downloads and were even a finalist in the Best Newcomer category for the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards. The kid-lit podcast team were exhilarated to discover that kids were listening to their podcast in classrooms, both here and overseas.
While Nat believes her internal age is 10, she successfully holds workshops, appears at events as a speaker and describes herself as an “all-round bucket of fun”. She’s even worked for Sony for five years, where she spent invaluable time with the likes of Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Guy Sebastian. Here she added to her remarkable skillset by doing a bit of everything, including filming, directing, lighting and editing. She sees editing as a type of visual storytelling, and we think she’s spot-on. When we spoke, she’d just arrived in Queensland for the Children and Young Adult conference, where she was presenting. At this event in 2016, her debut middle-grade manuscript was awarded third place, and in 2017 she placed first and second in the Picture Book category and second in Chapter Books for younger readers.
Her inspiration for her first novel came from a story she’d heard years ago about an American child being found with $20,000 in her locker. It was a concept that sat with her for a while. Nat first pitched the idea as a film script, but it didn’t get any funding. It just stuck with her. The character kept talking to her.
“I really wanted to talk about the idea. It was fun and filled with excitement. I wanted to touch on the idea that kids can do the wrong thing but still be good people,” said Nat. “No one is defined by their mistakes. Don’t let mistakes get you down. I know that kids put a lot of pressure on themselves so I made the main character heavily flawed and likeable. She’s really a lot like me as a kid; I made so many errors. I just wanted to give everything a go.”
Nat’s in the busy lane for now, with more school visits and workshops ahead of her. But she is also a proud role model for Books In Homes Australia, which provide books of choice to children living in remote, disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances.
“I want kids to get excited about books and reading. I like to see the joy when they choose three books that will be their very own. From reading they increase their literacy skills, grow their emotional intelligence and gain empathy. I’m excited to be contributing and that I’m able to help.”
That’s not the end of the story yet. Nat was also the recipient of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Maurice Saxby Creative Development Program for 2018 and has completed multiple courses at the AWC and NSWWC. And finally, let’s add more to her resume. She was on Australian reality television show The Mole and played Fuzz the blue monster in the kids’ film Out From Under The Bed, which is now being developed into a TV series proposal — but that’s a story for the next chapter.
“I’m meant to be telling stories, whatever it may be,” said Nat.