Interview: Josh Lefers, the man who can literally do it all, is now a children’s book author too

You’ll never meet a guy quite like Josh Lefers. There’s something about him that is intimidating, yet somewhat calming in the way his creativity flows. The Melbourne entrepreneur can now add another bow to his belt; a children’s book author with his first titled How to Hypnotise a Droid. Given his complete and utter love for reading and books growing up, it’s no wonder this opportunity presented itself. With a life as colourful as his, you know the books are going to be exactly the same. Lefers is the man of the moment, and I can’t wait to see this next chapter unfold.

Is there anything you can’t do?!?!?!!?!

[Laughs] You’re too kind. Actually, I was asked the same question when I was juggling a pot plant, a saucepan and an orange the other day! I think I’m just endlessly enthusiastic about following through on doing the things I dream of. I could live a thousand lives and not get bored. There’s just an infinite amount of projects to create, learn from and celebrate! 

What inspired this new venture into writing children’s books?

Well, my mum used to read stories like The Twits to us, and Dad used to create the most outrageous stories every night (nothing will beat his Tales of Lord Itchy Bum!). Out of that, I’ve always known I was going to be a writer from the age of around 10. Of course, Paul Jennings, Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll were more inspiration than anyone ever needed too, but when Australia’s most successful kids book publisher Hilary Rogers approached me to put forward concepts for a new kids book series, I was so excited for this new venture. I had more hectic ideas than you can ever imagine. What a dream come true.

What do you want kids to take from your book? 

Well, whatever they like best! I love the idea that everyone will take whatever they most desire. Some will take the hectic fun of it all, others might connect with the touches of emotion, and others still might just love the possibility of a droidy babysitter. Holistically, I love the idea that Hectic Electric will fire even more fresh excitement in kids. That it will help their amazing brains to dream up even more impossible things in the world. I love the idea that they will see the unknown future as being full of naughty, crazy fun. And, finally, I love that Hectic Electric will fire their imaginations to create their own fantastic stories. 

Who is the protagonist based on? You? Hence the name!

[Laughs] Yes, the protagonist is me. Sally Rippin actually suggested that I base the character on myself; before that I called him Chips. So bad! Sally was like: “Kids want to know what happened to you as a kid!” I mean it’s not autobiographical, but there’s so much of me in there that it wouldn’t make sense not to be about Joshie Hectic!  I mean the Crazy Cat Woman really was my next door neighbour and the Ginger Nut Twins are great friends of mine;  they aren’t quite as mean, but they do look equally as funny when I pour honey in their hair.

What was your favourite childhood book that you think back on fondly?

BFG, The Twits, Narnia  all of those fantastic worlds and characters were part of my life. So epic! Wow, what a gift those authors gave us all. It’s no wonder I had over 400 books in my book collection by the time I was 15.  I just can’t tell you how many favourite books I’ve ever had!

Is there a classic children’s book that you’d give the Josh Lefers touch up to?

Yesssssss!!! It’d have to be The Magic Faraway Tree series. In fact, I’m touching it up right now. I’ve just designed a bar in the city called Storyville and you walk in through the pages of a book and right up through a magical tree for three storeys. Wait ’til you see Saucepan Man; he’s now Microwave Oven Man! Okay that’s not true, I’d never make a single change to Saucepan Man.

This is certainly an occasion for close friends and family to buy you a congratulatory gift. But what do they buy you when you seem to have it all?!

Sneakers. I’ve got these rose gold Buscemi ones that are my favourite gift ever. They are worth their weight in gold! Literally. I mean $1600 sneakers are excessive, but for a while I even took them to bed, so for that price they are worn on my feet and my ears. Pamela Anderson tried to buy them from me one time when I was at an event in West Hollywood. I said no to Pam! How many guys (that are kids book authors) can say that!

You’ve been quite forthcoming with your political views. Would you ever consider going into politics, and maybe run for Prime Minister?

No chance as a Prime Minister! Firstly, I haven’t seen any epic, wonderful change in the world as a result of an Australian Prime Minister. I mean, tampons are still taxed as a luxury item because of John Howard, and Tony Abbott surely is some sort of evil, alien robot that Droid Dude should crush and recycle as a rubbish bin. No doubt I’ll find other ways to work with fantastic and powerful people who also want to see changes towards equality and fairness across so many human rights areas.

And, if I was going to get into politics, I’d aim to be a cross between Russell Brand, Chaser’s War On Everything and Elon Musk, which makes no sense, but then nor does what I’m seeing in politics anywhere in the world. Besides, I’ve got kids books to write and I’ve got no desire to tell kids how to think. I want them to decide for themselves who and what they love.

For a guy who’s done so much, what is on the top of your bucket list?

I loved doing my first two TV series with my partner in crime Steve Wools. We travelled the world on the roll of a dice.  So I reckon the top of my bucket list is to crunch out epic new shows that are super fun to create and watch, but might just help create conversations that creates change. I remember this one time for a documentary in New York, Steve and I slept on the street with homeless people in protest of the housing issues there. Wow, what an experience. It was hectic!  

What’s next for you?

I think a brewery hotel with a beach club rooftop. Or if you mean in kids books, well there’s another three books at least in this series; Rise of the Bread Baby is next, and I’ve got another three series on the way!

How to Hypnotise a Droid is out now at Target, Big W, and all good book retailers across Australia and online.


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