Peter Helliar releases fourth book Frankie Fish and the Sister Shemozzle

Peter Helliar.
Peter Helliar.

PETER Helliar was halfway through writing Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase (the first book in his Frankie Fish series) when he questioned if centring his story on time travel was such a good idea.

“I’m happy with them now but wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew,” Helliar said.

“I started to wish I’d chosen something simple like a story about farts like Hughsey (Dave Hughes) did.

“But my favourite book while growing up was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and my favourite movie was Back to the Future, so those were the two things that inspired this series.”

Somehow between his time as The Project co-host, stand up shows and working on TV series How To Stay Married, the children’s author has managed to release his fourth book, Frankie Fish and the Sister Shemozzle, for ages eight years and older.

“It’s been full on and takes a lot of time management, compartmentalising, a really good publisher and a supportive family to get through it,” Helliar said.

“For example, I’ll come home from The Project, have a quick bite to eat and start writing.

“I’ve really loved finding these characters and the reaction from the kids makes it really worthwhile and keeps me going. It’s great seeing them dressed up as the characters for Book Week.

“I literally pressed send on the first draft of the next (fifth) book at 11.30pm last night.”

Helliar, who uses his own sons as a Frankie Fish focus group while writing, said Frankie Fish and the Sister Shemozzle had Frankie’s sister Louise Fish aka Saint Lou at the forefront.

“At the end of the previous book she had joined the gang and this time she decides to time travel by herself,” he said.

“A bit of a prank goes wrong and her favourite teacher, the librarian, quits as a result.

“Louise assumes it was Frankie and his best friend Drew’s fault, so decides to use the sonic suitcase to travel back to ancient Greece to hang out with the philosophers.

“Frankie, Drew and Granddad have to go and find her to bring her back.”

Helliar said the book focused on the sibling relationship where, from Frankie’s point of view, he had always lived in his sister’s shadow.

Sonic Suitcase was really about the relationship between Frankie and his granddad and the second book was more about the friendship between Frankie and Drew,” he said.

“This is about Frankie and Louise realising what they mean to each other. I think the books have their touching moments and I like to put a lot of heart in to them as well as humour.”