Tobias Madden chats about his new book TAKE A BOW, NOAH MITCHELL

Tobias Madden has hung up his dance shoes and traded them in for a pen and paper.

Originally from Ballarat, Tobias worked for ten years as a performer, touring Australia and New Zealand with musicals such as Mary PoppinsCATSSingin’ in the Rain, and Guys and Dolls. In 2019, he edited and published UNDERDOG, the first #LoveOzYA short story anthology for previously unpublished Aussie young adult fiction writers. Also in 2019, he wrote the cabaret show Siblingship, which played to sold out audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra. Tobias is a passionate member of the #LoveOzYA and LGBTQ+ communities, and currently works part-time in theatre marketing.

His debut young adult fiction novel, the ABIA Award-shortlisted ANYTHING BUT FINE, is out now in Australia and New Zealand (Penguin Teen) and in the US (Page Street YA). His second YA novel, TAKE A BOW, NOAH MITCHELL, is coming to Australian readers on August 30th. With the book releasing in just a few days, we chat with Tobias about his writing process.

How did you decide to move from performing into writing?

Tobias: I wrote a lot when I was a little kid, but once I started performing at age 14, my whole world became about theatre. It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I was finding it harder to get cast in musicals, that I started looking for another creative outlet. I hadn’t even read a book since uni, let alone written anything, but writing just felt like the next right step. So, I shifted my focus completely and immersed myself in the world of young adult fiction. Five years later, my debut novel was published, and now it’s somehow already time for book number two!

What is the most challenging part about writing a book?

Tobias: For most of my writing life, I was also working full time, so the hardest thing was always finding the time to sit down and write. I ending up having to write in the ‘margins’ of the week—lunch breaks, late at night, all weekend—but that was the only way I could get it done. These days, I have the luxury of a little more time, which I am so, so grateful for.

How do your experiences as a performer influence your work?

Tobias: I think my life on stage influences my work in many ways. Obviously, the content of my books is very performing arts focused (one about a male ballet dancer, and another about a gamer boy joining the cast of an amateur musical) but I think my love of theatre influences my actual writing, too. My work is very dialogue heavy—with some scenes almost reading like a script—and the plots follow a fairly traditional dramatic structure. The stories are contemporary (set in the present day) but they are definitely heightened and stylised and full of drama. A lot of people say my books feel cinematic and theatrical, which is a huge compliment!

Do you see any of yourself in Noah Mitchell?

Tobias: Definitely! Noah shares a lot of similarities with my teenage self. He’s nerdy and skinny and self-conscious, but also very sarcastic and witty. I grew up in Ballarat, where the book is set, and it was such a joy to revisit my amateur theatre days through the lens of someone completely foreign to that world. As a character, Noah was so much fun to write, and I really hope people like him.

Summarise the story in 5 words!

Nerds, theatre, love, scheming, and DRAMA.

Click here to order TAKE A BOW, NOAH MITCHELL.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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