Real Guns

Jon, like many young boys, is fascinated by guns. He finds a loaded pistol hidden under his parents’ bed, with nearly tragic consequences. The close call prompts his father to explain to Jon why he needs to keep the gun, forging a much closer bond between father and son.

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Jon, like many young boys, is fascinated by guns. He finds a loaded pistol hidden under his parents’ bed, with nearly tragic consequences. The close call prompts his father to explain to Jon why he needs to keep the gun, forging a much closer bond between father and son.

Real Guns confronts the topical issues of gun control and the effects of war—past and present—on returning soldiers and their families. Jon, like many young boys, is fascinated by guns. He finds a loaded pistol hidden under his parents’ bed, with nearly tragic consequences.

The close call prompts his father to explain to Jon why he needs to keep the gun, forging a much closer bond between father and son, and emphasising the need for parents to talk to their children about issues affecting their safety.

Patrick Murphy’s stunning illustrations are a perfect complement to Reiter’s timeless story, allowing younger readers to better understand why guns are at once a necessary part of contemporary life but also a danger when they get into the wrong hands.

See the review from Education Queensland below for the book’s relevance to school curricula.

This important book is also available in German and Spanish editions.

David P Reiter

Dr David P. Reiter is an award-winning poet and writer of fiction, and CEO of IP, an innovative print and digital publisher in Brisbane. His fourth book, Hemingway in Spain and Selected Poems, was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Awards. His previous books include The Cave After Saltwater Tide (Penguin, 1994) for which he won the Queensland Premier’s Poetry Award. His book of short fiction, Triangles, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award. Other works are The Gallery, interactive multimedia; Kiss and Tell, Selected and New Poems 1987-2002 (Penguin); and Sharpened Knife, a multimedia murder mystery. IP released his novel Liars and Lovers in 2003. His script, Paul & Vincent, was broadcast by ABC Radio National, followed by the release of a multimedia version and audiobook from IP Digital, based on his poetry book Letters We Never Sent. He’s completed a film and audiobook of Hemingway in Spain. Real Guns is a children’s picture book illustrated by Irish artist Patrick Murphy. His Project Earth-mend Series of four children’s books includes The Greenhouse Effect, Global Cooling, Tiger Tames the Min Min and Tiger Takes the Big Apple. He won the Wesetern Australian Premier’s Award for Timelord Dreaming (2016) and the interactive website My Planets: a fictive Memoir (2012). His most recent works are the digital narrative Black Books Publishing (2018) and Time Lords Remixed: a Dr Who poetical (2020). David has had several grants from the Australia Council and Arts Queensland and has been writer-in-residence at a number of places including the Banff Centre for the Arts, Bundanon (the Arthur Boyd property), the Michael King Centre in New Zealand, and the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre in Perth, Western Australia.He gives talks and leads workshops on all aspects of publishing. Recent works include Black Books Publishing (2018), an interactive satire about the publishing industry; the medical/micro-textual hybrid TimeLord Dreaming, which won the 2016 Western Australian Premier’s Award for Digital Narrative, Your eBook Survival Kit, now in its 3rd edition, and the picture book Bringing Down the Wall, which was 2014 Best Book for Teens & Kids (Canadian Children’s Book Centre). As artist-in-residence twice at the Banff Centre for the Arts, he completed My Planets Reunion Memoir Project, which won the 2012 WA Premier’s Award, and The Gallery (2000), a non-linear interactive work featuring the relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. To celebrate IP’s 20th anniversary, he curated and designed Just Off Message, an anthology of more than 40 Australian and international authors. Most recently, he produced Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology, which is currently touring.


Deep Breath

You’ve really let yourself go
inside this vanity trap where we
need to wear cyber labels

to decode our hands right from left
so we’ll have somewhere better
to land than backwards. Never try to

control a control freak, especially a
robot urging himself into human guise
for some Promised Land. Because we’re

all organs on a preordained menu for
unwed diners outside a conjured escape
capsule. There’s something wrong

when no one else but you are breath-
ing, as you wonder what flirting has
to do with spontaneous regeneration.

Under the Lake

Ghosts? Never met one I couldn’t tame,
until now. Just say boo from behind
your sonic sunglasses and they

dissolve – or do they? But no, these
cosmic sailors hover, persistent,< br/> curious, even. Who’s in charge?

(I need to know which one I can ignore)
Meanwhile, everyone’s abandoning
ship, or falling softly into death.

They can pass through walls, locked
doors, even Clara’s holographic double,
whispering the dark, the sound, the

forsaken temple, rewinding past, through
dark space from Orion’s Nebula. I need maps,
precise coordinates to frame their positions,

a suspended animation chamber to see
how the slain relearn to hum, transmit
via some Puppeteer’s impossible magnet.

But then the flood, and Clara has to
trust me to teleport without the Tardis
and come back, ghost-free, to her


The Return of Dr Mysterio

What do I have in common with Clark Kent?
Certainly not his love of skin-tight threads, but yes
keeping a phone box handy for the first threat

of danger, and being on call 24/7 to buffer
humans, especially page turning companions,
despite their impulse to hug him or me

at the drop of an alien. Save is just what we
freelancers do without bronzing or vows.
During a pause, I was trying to power up

a time distortion equaliser thingy with a Hazandra
gemstone, when young boy Grant swallowed it
and developed a persistent case of levitation,

a capital G, and a blue rubber speed handy
24 years on to sidestep his part-time nanny
job for high school sweetheart Lucy

(read Lois Lane). Tagged the Ghost because
all the better comics names had been branded,
he was super as a backstop brake for a spaceship

with nukes cross-haired at NYC. I could
have snagged it myself, but I was missing Clara
and River Song, it was Christmas again,

and everyone deserves a happy
reboot after a sad

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Once you learn how to tumble
from a bike you never forget.
Bad timing: I was in mid-transform

from my grey-haired Scottish
skin (bless his sexy drawl!)
bracing for my train roof grand

entry, no time to muck about
with who I am or was or should be
though I do have this niggling

yearn for a certain runaway police-
box especially as I confront the data
coil of this flying spaghetti monster.

Have I ever tasted a Hersey’s Kiss?
Does it really matter as carriages uncouple
and Tzim-Sha can zap us at will?

I do prefer the height-thrill of cranes
to the afterburn of virtual chocolate
as I blowtorch a fresh sonic screwdriver

from random scraps of metal. Damn
those budget cuts! We can do so much
better than purloined teeth for trophies.

Yes, always be kind!

Ticking boxes: ‘is he still conscious?
When did his #chest pains, shortness of breath, begin?
Please secure all dogs & attack guinea pigs.’

In situ: ‘you say your father died of a #heart attack?
Have you ever smoked?’ Passive counts.
As my pain tightens… #regeneration coming on?

‘Please scale your #pain from 1 to 10.
We sustain for the EW – no exits on our watch.
Name, date of birth, allergies – best to memorise.’

Drugs, glorious drugs! please Mr Para
may I have some more? Mr #Morphine and I
have never played tag, until now…

4D Print from the #Tardis
#Dr Who at the EW shapeshifts for the transfer,
blue jab in my bowels, #centrifuge of max focus
betrayed by a tease of dancing lights.

After the Kangaroo had solidified ever so slightly from his normal holographic state to bid the Crew a farewell that Tiger the cat took to be almost fond, if not teary, before fading into the darkness, it was pitch dark at Uluru save for the pin-pricks of light overhead that were stars, and only stars, or so Tiger hoped.

He felt the fur stiffen on the back of his neck. ‘Do you suppose Mick will be back?’ he asked no one in particular, hoping that anyone who had an answer would chime in.

‘Weren’t you listening?’ snapped Tark, the extra-terrestrial from the Planet Griffon disguised as a frog so as not to call too much attention to himself. ‘I already answered that question!’

‘Yes,’ sniffed Tiger. ‘But I hoped if I asked again that I’d like the answer more this time!’

Wanda the Blue-tongue Lizard stuck out her tongue, more to test the night air, than to make fun of Tiger’s twitchy question. ‘It would have been fair enough to ask again,’ she said, ‘if you hadn’t had the first answer less than two minutes ago!’

Number 12, the now-almost-completely-retired-racing-camel, rapped each of his left hooves in turn against its right number to free it from a clog of sand before clearing his throat to speak. ‘While it’s true Tiger just asked the question, he did it at the end of Tiger Tames the Min Min, which for us may have been five minutes ago, but this is a new story entirely, and I believe that it took its author quite some months to write.’

‘You don’t know that,’ piped in Syd the crow. ‘It might end up very much the same story, or no story at all if the writer doesn’t get a move on.’

‘Writer?’ Tark demanded. ‘What writer?’

Number 12 snorted. ‘The one who left us standing here in the cold night air for more than a year now pretending that it was five minutes, while he went off to do… other things.’

‘Alexander’s like that,’ Tiger nodded. ‘When he’s working on one of his feature articles, he forgets to eat sometimes. Which is OK, except when he forgets to feed me.’

‘Well, you’ll have plenty of time to remind him,’ said Tark, ‘when we get back to base.’

‘Oh, goody,’ cried Tiger. ‘You mean we can go home at last?’

‘I reckon we’ve earned some R & R,’ said Tark. ‘Besides, Prince and Eudora will want a full update on Mick and his nasty starships. Before they tell us where we’re going next.’

Number 12 anticipated Tiger’s question. ‘Rest and relaxation – that’s R & R. What I was planning to get lots of, before you detoured me out of retirement!’

‘Count this lizard out!’ snapped Wanda. ‘First you drag us up the east coast of Australia to the pointy Top End of Queensland. Then across the Simpson Desert to Uluru. With just a slight change of pace to plug that burst oil well. Ducking Min Min Lights all the way. I do believe that I’ve served my time!’

‘And done it very well,’ Tark said, pouring it on like thickened cream. ‘Where would we have been without Judge Wanda?’

‘Oh, go on,’ Wanda said, her skin going ever so slightly sunset red despite its stubborn greenish black. ‘Any native creature would have done the same in my place!’

‘You can never take a compliment,’ tittered Syd. ‘But if you’ve got a better offer than saving the Earth and our fellow creatures, Wanda, just say so. I’m sure there are others who’ll gladly take your place!’

Wanda eyed Syd. ‘Once a scavenger, always a scavenger. I suppose I’ll have to see it through – if only to keep you in line.’

Syd winked at Tiger. ‘That’s settled, then. Though Judge Syd could have a nice ring about it!’

‘What about you?’ Tark asked Number 12. ‘Are you game for the next phase of Project Earth-mend?’

Number 12 managed a smile as much as any camel – ex-racing or otherwise – could. ‘My race against the emus brought it all back – the thrill. I can’t see myself moping around a paddock all day, flicking away blowflies day in and day out. Sign me up!’

‘And I’m certainly keen!’ Tiger chimed in. ‘After all, what’s an adventure without a leader?’

‘Excuse me, Earthling,’ Tark snapped, stretching his magic toe. ‘Who’s in charge here?’

Tiger gulped, eying Tark’s toe, which was already glowing an eerie green with just a hint of blood red in it. ‘Um, I meant to say deputy leader.’

‘Of course you did,’ Tark said, more kindly, while his toe faded back to its normal frog-like hue. ‘Now we must all teleport back to the Sacred Pool for further instructions.’

‘The Sacred Pool?’ said Number 12. ‘Is that some kind of oasis?’

Wanda laughed. ‘It’s in Canberra, the watering hole for most of Australia’s politicians!’

‘Oh,’ said Number 12, deflated. ‘I’ve never met a politician before. But I hear you can’t trust them as far as you can buck them.’

‘That’s not entirely true,’ said Tiger. ‘The previous Prime Minister was rather fond of Myrtle’s Greenhouse Ginger Cheesecake, so it was a snap to sign him up for Project Earth-mend. He’s still onside, but I don’t know about the one we have now.’

Wanda shook her head. ‘Myrtle will take care of him, or her, if it ever comes to that again. Wait and see!’

‘We won’t have to wait long,’ Tark said, tilting his head toward the sky as if a transmission was coming in. ‘Prince wants us to report back, pronto.’

‘But Canberra’s days away from here,’ sighed Number 12. ‘Even if we keep up a steady trot. And do the politicians even allow camels there?’
‘Of course they do,’ said Wanda, sounding very much like Judge Wanda again. ‘If not, I’ll have the law changed!’

‘T-thanks,’ said Number 12. ‘I suppose I could take a bath in tea-tree oil, or something.’

Tiger had never heard of tea-trees, let alone their oil. It sounded rather disgusting if it had to be licked off afterwards.

‘Walking is so twentieth century,’ Syd said. ‘Even if we went as the crow flies – meaning me – it still would take more than a day to get there.’
‘Have finger, will travel,’ Tark reminded them. ‘Ready for teleportation?’

Juan was thinking about the toy gun made of plastic that his father bought him for his birthday. It was a huge green pistol that Juan could fill with water and it would reach enough to wet all the children in the neighborhood. Just one squeeze of the trigger was enough to shoot a torrent of water that reached the other side of the street. Juan knew very well that this was not a firearm.

Juan’s father had a firearm in his house. Juan knew about this gun because on one occasion (when he was supposed to be asleep) he overheard his parents talking about the gun.
—I want you to get rid of that firearm, his mother told him.
To which his father replied, “I can’t.”
“But it scares me,” she stated.
And he replied, “There’s no need to be scared, he’s in a
safe place.”
“I know exactly where it is,” his mother insisted.
And he replied, “Of course, between you and me we have no secrets.

Juan lay in his bed and thought about his father’s gun. If only I could see her, he thought to himself. Even if it’s only once. Well, first, he would have to find her.

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See the sample of DISinformation

Patrick J Murphy

Artist Patrick J Murphy was born in Belfast, North West Ireland where he currently lives and works. He studied art and art history at the Belfast Institute and exhibits his contemporary oil paintings internationally. His last exhibition was at the Agora Gallery in New York, USA. The present is his first illustrated book.

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A

Ebook, HB, PB


ePub, HB, PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 6 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Like many young boys, Jon is fascinated by guns. He also listens in to his parents’ conversations. He enjoys his toy machine-water pistol, but when he overhears that his father, against his mother’s most vehement protests, has a real gun hidden in the house, he is on a quest to find it. And find it he does, cold and black and heavy, and with almost disasterous consequences. Subsequently, Jon learns of his father’s traumatic experiences as a soldier, his post-war suffering and his dependence on his weapon for a feeling of security. He also begins to understand the depth of his parents’ love for him and the concept of responsible gun handling.

    Based on an episode in the author’s youth, Real Guns is told in simple, direct, understated language. The emotional issues confronting former soldiers and their families are presented with deep compassion. Patrick Murphy was born and lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His strongly emotional Expressionist art work, with its flat expanses of intense acrylic colour applied with bold obvious brushstrokes, lack of perspective and little detail adds drama to the sombre mood of the text. Pages are broken into sections and shapes starkly outlined by strong lines of black or brown. The vivid reds, oranges, yellows, blues and greens, the dark purples, browns, black and grey contrast with each other creating a feeling of energy. A striking and exceptional example of illustration complementing text. Recommended for Upper Primary – Senior Secondary.”

    – JS, Reading Time

    July 24, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Each year two children’s book authors and illustrators are invited to undertake a short writer’s residency at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River of the south coast of N.S.W. as part of an education program for schools coinciding with Book Week for Schools.

    Local Public Schools are targeted and invited to attend day sessions with these writer/illustrators during this time. A short program is designed in collaboration with the resident for the visiting group.

    Both text and illustration are featured, highlighting the skills of these selected authors and illustrators. Areas of professional experience, competency, articulation, diversity and imagination in literacy for young students are addressed.

    In August of 2007 publisher/writer David Reiter was a guest resident and presented two sessions from his residence to two schools.

    David’s presentation involved quite an expressive and intimate reading of his work; The Greenhouse Effect and audience response to his recently completed book; Young Guns, which deals with quite an extreme but believable set of circumstances exceeded the expectations of all staff present at the session.

    This was particularly interesting to watch in progress as it was especially relevant to one of these schools, being families from the Naval Base division at Nowra, the message was especially topical.

    Prompted by David and with the assistance of the school teachers present, the students displayed a very mature and intelligent level of understanding of the context and message in the story. The students hung onto every word and nuance, exploring the story in incredible depth and with great enthusiasm. It was obvious in their answers to questions raised, that they were able to identify the more subtle clues given in the illustration of the story and clearly were impressed by the integrity of the author’s intention.

    On speaking to the school staff afterward, their degree of satisfaction with David’s presentation was very high and developed the student’s skills of articulation and reason. I personally feel that the intimate nature of the reading which David gave, also added to the degree of comfort experienced by the students, allowing them to investigate the contentious and challenging nature of the subject matter.”

    Gaillyn Cooper
    Education Manager (acting)
    Bundanon Trust (New South Wales)

    July 24, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)


    Woven into this sobering story are the serious issues of gun control, gun safety and the pervasive effects of war on returning soldiers and their families. It has wide curriculum applications in both Studies of Society and Environment (Time, Continuity and Change; Levels 3 – 4) and Health and Physical Education (Promoting the Health of Individuals and Communities; Levels 3 – 4).

    When Jon discovers a loaded gun under his parents’ bed, he is mesmerised by its cold, hard, metallic reality. The gun, already a source of conflict between his parents, is accidentally fired by Jon, starkly confronting all family members and prompting them to assess their own contribution to the potentially fatal accident. Underlying themes include the adult’s role of responsibility in parent-child relationships, gun usage, post-traumatic stress disorder, war and father-son relationships. The intentionally simplistic and stylised illustrations focus the reader on the issue being explored on each page and simultaneously convey the subtexts of parallel stories. While a loaded a gun left within reach of a child may seem so irresponsible as to undermine the plausibility of the story, it serves to illuminate the seemingly inexplicable behaviours sometimes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rich in its understated complexity, this book offers wide scope for discussion and reflection on the serious and contentious issues raised.”

    – © Education Queensland, Review, January, 2008

    July 24, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Real Guns is a disturbing story about a boy who finds his dad’s army service revolver under his parents’ bed. Based upon a personal experience of the author, the story describes how Jon can’t resist the urge to sneak into his parents’ room and hold the gun. Just once. Of course the deed does not go unnoticed. His mother surprises him as he is posing in front of the mirror with it. The gun goes off, shattering the mirror. Later, when Jon’s dad comes home, they discuss the horrors and atrocities of war and how it has affected Jon’s father.

    Despite the horrific nature of this morality tale, I found Reiter’s style somehow cool, detached and matter of fact. There is an honesty in the telling, which would perhaps have been explored more effectively if written in first person, from the child’s perspective.

    Illustrator Patrick J. Murphy’s nightmarish, simplistic style dominates both figures and surroundings in strong, blood-like colours, geometric shapes and heavy black outlines vaguely reminiscent of Matisse. The images are powerful and, curiously, the figures appear Hispanic looking. There is a relentless heavy mood to this story, echoed very effectively by these illustrations. None of the figures smile, except on the very last page, where the moral of the story is summarised.

    As a children’s book I find it difficult to place in a particular age group. The large format is more suited to a younger readership, but the reading vocabulary is that of mid to upper primary. Also, the subject matter makes it awkward to place. Here in Australia, where gun licences are restricted and gun ownership not encouraged, relevance may be an issue, however in America, where every citizen has the right to bear arms, it may find a larger market. Given the subject matter and look of the book, it would probably appeal more to boys than girls.”

    – Dawn Meredith, BuzzWords

    July 24, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Real Guns is not an anti gun story but it teases out the idea that guns exist in our society, are in some instances a necessity, but must always be treated in a safe manner. They are real.

    The text has almost a conversational quality which leads perfectly into being able to open dialogue about guns, their place in society and the sometimes blurred ideas that children have about what is a real gun, a toy gun or a game.

    Patrick J Murphy’s illustrations compliment the text and are presented in a bold, simple style with vivid colours.

    After reading Real Guns, author David Reiter speaks with children, not at them, allowing them to discover and articulate their point of view. He offers insight into why he chose the topic of gun safety.

    As a publisher, he is also able to demystify the publishing process, explaining how books are selected or rejected for publication, how an illustrator is found to compliment the text, etc.

    A valuable experience for children.”

    – Andrea Anderson, Librarian, Seven Hills and Cannon Hills State Schools (Queensland)

    July 24, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “Michael wanted me to let you know that he really liked the book (although it did make him cry a little —I don’t think I was supposed to notice that!)

    He said, “Guns make people want to kill other people. It must be scary being a soldier.” And then, “can I get a big water pistol for my birthday?””

    – Leanne Hansen, mother of 8-year-old Michael

    July 24, 2023

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