Australian YA: Meet Trinity Doyle and Pieces of Sky

 

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Trinity.

My pleasure!

Pieces of SkyPieces of Sky (Allen & Unwin) is your first published YA novel. How did you get published an agent or through the slush pile?

I got my deal through my agent.

What is the significance of your title, Pieces of Sky?

In the novel the idea of sky represents something to reach for out of the grief and the story is a somewhat fractured look at that.

The characters seem very real as if based on experience or young adults you know or have observed. How did you give your characters this verisimilitude?Trinity Doyle - credit Farrah Allan

Thank you. I tried to instil them with as much truth as I could—whether it was my truth or someone else’s. If I could work out what each of them wanted—small or big—it helped them become more alive for me.

Who do you hope reads your book?

Everybody haha. People who are searching and feel stretched thin by the world, those who want beauty and an escape. Those who are up at 3am developing obsessions for things most people have never considered. Photo of Trinity Doyle (credit Farrah Allen)

One of the characters writes snatches of poetry. Do you write poetry or song lyrics?

SextonI’ve tried my hand at song lyrics. I was in a band once and did some writing—not much of a singer though so I just spoke gruffly into the microphone haha. I had an intense period of journalling when I was 19 and that was mostly poetry. I tried to be all Anne Sexton over my lack of boyfriend 😉

 

You included some really interesting bands in the novel? Why did you pick these?

Some, like The Jezebels, had a lot of impact for me in the early writing of the book while others became important to me later. I tried to make each mention count, it had to have the appropriate feel for the scene and also be someone I thought the character would’ve actually listened to. I had a lot of fun with Evan’s more obscure taste.

Why did you choose Pennant Hills in Sydney as the place Evan grew up?

haha! Because I wanted him to come from somewhere a bit well off but not too much. It’s also outside the city, which I liked, I like him being an outsider. Truthfully though it’s just what came to mind. I had some friends who grew up there.

Where are you based and how involved in the Australian book world are you?

I’m based in Newcastle, NSW. I think I’m somewhat involved in our book world—I think it’s the best book world going. I’m a part of our local CBCA group, the Australian Society of Authors and the brilliant #LoveOzYA campaign.Night Beach

 

How else do you spend your time?

I work as a graphic designer, hang out with my 4yo daughter and hubby, cook—I love food and am passionate about health. I garden a bit though I tend to lose interest when things die or are overcome by weeds. One day I’d like to have a tiny farm—gotta get better at keeping the backyard alive first though.

What have you enjoyed reading?

Graffiti Moon

So many books! Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar is my absolute fave, closely followed by Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and Maggie Stiefveter’s Raven Cycle books.

All the best with your new book, its a stunner and I reviewed it in the Weekend Australian here. Thanks very much, Trinity.

Thank you!

Australian YA and other fiction in London

I’m just back from a tour of (mostly indie) London bookshops.Children of the King

My visit to the Tower of London was enhanced after seeing Sonya Hartnett’s Children of the King, which alludes to the missing princes held captive by their uncle Richard III in the Tower, in a Notting Hill bookshop.

Australian YA, as well as children’s and adult literature, held its head high with sightings of Amanda Betts’ brilliant Zac and Mia, (which I reviewed here) and works by Kirsty Eagar and Melina Marchetta. I was so pleased to see my favourite Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road on the shelves there. Watch out for the movie.Jellicoe

Karen Foxlee seems to be appreciated much more in the UK and US than in Australia. I saw Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy (for children) and The Midnight Dress. (I reviewed The Midnight Dress for the Weekend Australian here.)

And Jaclyn Moriarty has had a strong following overseas, which her own country is finally catching up with now she is winning YA awards here. Her sister, Liane’s Big Little Lies, the best seller for adults, was everywhere.

Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island, published here as Sea Hearts was visible and I also noticed another crossover series, Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn.Red Queen

It was great to see some of the incomparable Isobelle Carmody’s stunning YA works. Along with many others, I can’t wait for The Red Queen, the final in the Obernewtyn Chronicles, which is being published this November. This series is world class and dearly loved. How will Elspeth Gordie’s story conclude?

Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer rules the world. It was everywhere, and even featured in bookstore displays.

Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief still has a high profile but Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect for adults seemed to be even more popular. Like Rules of Summer, Rosie was everywhere, which makes me anticipate my upcoming conversation with Graeme at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival in September even more eagerly. It is so difficult to write humour and we spent a car trip recalling anecdotes from his books and laughing aloud.

Australian children’s books were highly visible, particularly multiple titles by Morris Gleitzman, including his holocaust series beginning with Once.

SoonThe latest in the series, the chilling Soon, is now available in Australia, although not quite yet in the UK. Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s Treehouse series was as ubiquitous as London’s red, double decker buses and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series was also popular. I spied books by Emily Rodda and it was a thrill to see Anna Fienberg’s stand-alone children’s novel, Louis Beside Himself, as well as her Tashi series, illustrated by Kim Gamble.

Some Australian adult authors taking shelf space were Peter Carey (Amnesia), David Malouf, Evie Wyld (All the Birds, Singing), Hannah Kent (Burial Rites), Tim Winton (Breath), Steve Toltz (Quicksand) and Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

A few standout OS YA authors on the shelves included Mal Peet (who I’ve written about here), Frances Hardinge (Cuckoo Song and Fly By Night) and Patrick Ness, whose latest YA novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, will be available in August. It’s one of his best. rest of Us Just Live Here

SWF After Party

HMay was packed full of exciting book events, a number linked to the Sydney Writers’ Festival. My SWF week began with the evening announcement of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards at the Mitchell Library. It was a great opportunity to catch up with people and meet new authors.

The other awards evening I attended was the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA). This was a glittering event, particularly this year when we were asked to wear a splash of ruby red to celebrate the 15th awards dinner.

We were spoiled by having Casey Bennetto (creator of Keating the Musical) again as MC. He does an amazing job writing songs about those who present the awards and delivers these as mini-performances. Award presenters included international guests David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks), Michael Connolly (American writer of crime fiction and detective novels, best know for those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch), Anthony Horowitz (Sherlock Holmes and James Bond original novels, the Alex Rider teen series, Foyle’s War and Midsummer Murders) and Helen Macdonald (H is for Hawk), who also gave the closing address of the SWF.

 

2014 Miles Franklin winner, Evie Wyld (All the Birds, Singing) also had her own song and Casey Bennetto wished that he had written one for Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief). He ad-libbed something on the spot, incorporating ‘John Cusack’ to rhyme with ‘Zusak’. Zusak presented his former editor, Celia Jellett from Omnibus Books, Scholastic, with the Pixie O’Harris Award for service to Australian children’s books.

Foreign SoilIt was lovely to meet Josephine Moon (The Tea Chest) and Maxine Beneba Clark, who won the Literary Fiction Book of the Year for Foreign Soil, and I spied legends, Sonya Hartnett (Golden Boys) and Morris Gleitzman (Loyal Creatures) at the next table.

Some other award winners were Judith Rossell, who is snapping up awards, including the Indies, for Withering-by-Sea; Tim Low for Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World (Tim was so surprised, he was dumb-struck); and Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen for Tea and Sugar Christmas. Boomerang Books was shortlisted for Online Retailer of the Year.

52

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton won ‘Book of the Year: Younger Children’ for The 52-Storey Treehouse and this also won overall ‘Book of the Year’, selected from the winners of each category. Another well-deserved scoop for children’s books.

Andy Griffiths was also a star at the SWF, signing books at the head of an enormous queue for, essentially, a whole day.

Because we are big fans of the Canadian TV series Orphan Black, we went to a screenwriters’ panel at the SWF, where Orphan Black writer, Lynne Coady, was speaking. She looks quite like the multi-role playing star of the show, Tatiana Maslany. Lynne got the conversation to a deeper level by confiding her fear of working as part of a screen-writing team. As an introvert who had been writing literary fiction alone in her basement she was worried how her voice would be heard in a group of, presumably, loud voices. Her vulnerability lit a spark in the panel’s discussion.

Waiting for the PastAnother highlight was hearing three eminent poets, David Malouf, Les Murray (Waiting for the Past) and Ben Okri read and speak about poetry. Moderator, poet/singer-songwriter Kate Fagan enhanced the session.

Another enthusiastic moderator was Davina Bell (The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade see my interview here) who chaired four YA authors in ‘Keeping it Real: Realistic Issues in Teen Fiction’. Authors included international Laurie Halse Anderson (The Impossible Knife of Memory), who intrigued the audience by knitting throughout the session, and Australian Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi, On the Jellicoe Road), to whom homage was deservedly paid.

Jellicoe Road

A Snapshot of Australian YA and Fiction in the USA

The Book ThiefI’ve just returned from visiting some major cities in the USA. It was illuminating to see which Australian literature is stocked in their (mostly) indie bookstores. This is anecdotal but shows which Australian books browsers are seeing, raising the profile of our literature.

Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief was the most prominent Australian book. I didn’t go to one shop where it wasn’t stocked.

The ABIA (Australian Book Industry) 2014 overall award winner, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was also popular. And a close third was Shaun Tan’s inimical Rules of Summer, which has recently won a prestigious Boston Globe-Horn Book picture book honour award. Some stores had copies in stacks.

http://www.hbook.com/2014/05/news/boston-globe-horn-book-awards/picture-book-reviews-2014-boston-globe-horn-book-award-winner-honor-books/#_

I noticed a few other Tans shelved in ‘graphic novels’, including his seminal work, The Arrival – which is newly available in paperback.

All the birds singing

One large store had an Oceania section, where Eleanor Catton’s Man-Booker winner, The Luminaries rubbed shoulders with an up-to-date selection of Australian novels. These included hot-off-the-press Miles Franklin winner All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, plus expected big-names – Tim Winton with Eyrie, Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North and works by Thomas Keneally and David Malouf. Less expected but very welcome was Patrick Holland.I chaired a session with Patrick at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival a few years ago and particularly like his short stories Riding the Trains in Japan.

Australian literary fiction I found in other stores included Kirsten Tranter’s A Common Loss, Patrick White’s The Hanging Garden and some Peter Carey.

One NY children’s/YA specialist was particularly enthusiastic about Australian writers. Her store had hosted Gus Gordon to promote his picture book, Herman and Rosie, a CBCA honour book, which is set in New York City. They also stocked Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca, John Marsden, David McRobbie’s Wayne series (also a TV series), Catherine Jinks’ Genius Squad (How to Catch a Bogle was available elsewhere) and some of Jaclyn Moriarty’s YA. One of my three top YA books for 2013, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee was available in HB with a stunning cover and Foxlee’s children’s novel Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy was promoted as part of the Summer Holidays Reading Guide.

The children of the king

Elsewhere I spied Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island, published as Sea Hearts here (the Australian edition has the best cover); Lian Tanner’s Keepers trilogy; John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice and Sonya Hartnett’s The Children of the King. These are excellent books that we are proud to claim as Australian.

4 Aussie Authors nominated for world’s largest children’s literature prize

Four Australian authors have been nominated for the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature.

Ursula Dubosarsky, Jackie French (pictured), Morris Gleitzman and Melina Marchetta are the Australian authors selected among a group of 207 candidates for the 2013 award.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced on 26 March 2013 in Stockholm.

Australian writers Shaun Tan and Sonya Hartnett have previously won the award in 2011 and 2008 respectively

A complete list of the nominees for the 2013 award can be found on the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award website.

No. 6 – Most Popular Aussie Novels of All Time

We surveyed our customers to discover the Most Popular Aussie Novels of all time – we’re counting down the Top 24 Novels between now and Christmas Eve…

At #6 – Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

35.9% of all respondents have read this book

Synopsis for Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Josephine Alibrandi is a third generation Italian Australian completing her last year of high school. She is the School Vice-Captain of St Martha’s in Sydney. Josie learns to overcome the narrow minded social and racial bigotry of people like Ivy Lloyd (Poison Ivy) and Carly Bishop. Josie reacts angrily to derogatory terms like wog and ethnic. She ultimately learns to have pride in her heritage and by the end of the novel is proud to say I’m Australian with Italian blood flowing rapidly through my veins.

The absence of her father for Josie’s first sixteen years means she has been heavily influenced by two powerful and strong women: her mother Christina and her grandmother Katia (Nonna). Josie unravels Nonna’s deepest secret, which is the adultery she committed with her Australian lover, Marcus Sandford. Josephine’s father, Michael Andretti, visits and despite Josie’s initial anger at his presence, he becomes extremely close to her and her to him.

Friends such as Sera, Anna and Lee influence Josie’s choices throughout her last year. A greater influence comes from her boyfriend Jacob Coote, and her crush, John Barton, whose suicide has a great emotional impact on her.

The story is Josephine’s reflection in her final year at high school and the narrative style is first person.

Looking for Alibrandi is a novel written for ages between 12 and above, it reveals a great understanding of what life is about. Josephine realises by the end of the novel what life has in place for her future, and what she does and doesn’t take for granted.

Source: Wikipedia

About Melina Marchetta (Books by Melina Marchetta…)

Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney on March 25, 1965. She is of Italian descent. Melina attended high school at Rosebank College in the Sydney suburb of Five Dock. She left school at age fifteen as she was not confident in her academic ability. She then enrolled in a business school where she gained useful office skills, such as typing, which helped her gain employment with The Commonwealth Bank of Australia and later at a travel agency where she worked as a consultant. This work gave her confidence to return to school and gain a teaching degree. She then got a job teaching at St Mary’s Cathedral College, Sydney in the heart of the Sydney CBD until 2006. She now writes full time.

Her first novel Looking for Alibrandi was released in 1992 to much acclaim with a first print-run sellout within two months of its release. Published in 14 countries, including 11 translated editions, Looking for Alibrandi swept the pool of literary awards for young adult fiction in 1993 including the coveted Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award (Older Readers). Dubbed “the most stolen library book” the popular novel has sold more than half a million copies worldwide and was followed by her film adaptation of the same title released in 2000.

While writing the AFI award-winning screenplay Melina taught English and History full time for ten years at a city high school for boys. During that time she released her second novel Saving Francesca in 2003, followed by On the Jellicoe Road in 2006. Both novels have been published in more than 6 countries, with Saving Francesca translated into 4 languages. On the Jellicoe Road was recently awarded the prestigious 2009 US Michael Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

Melina’s fourth novel, the fantasy epic Finnikin of the Rock, was released by Penguin Australia in October 2008. It has since won the 2008 Aurelius Award for Best Young Adult Novel and the 2009 ABIA (Australian Booksellers Industry Awards) Book of the Year for Older Children, and was recently shortlisted for the 2009 Children’s Book Council of the Year (Older Readers) Award. In the USA Finnikin has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist and Bulletin Centre for Children’s Books.

Her fifth novel The Piper’s Son was released earlier this year.

The List so far…

#6 – Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

#7 – Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

#8 – I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall

#9 – Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

#10 – A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

#11 – Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey

#12 – A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

#13 – Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

#14 – Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

#15 – April Fool’s Day by Bryce Courtenay

#16 – The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

#17 – My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

#18 – Jessica by Bryce Courtenay

#19 – My Place by Sally Morgan

#20 – For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke

#21 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

#22 – Dirt Music by Tim Winton

#23 – Breath by Tim Winton

#24 – So Much to Tell You by John Marsden

CBCA NSW 2010: A note on Melina Marchetta (and her effortless awesomeness)

Me, Melina Marchetta

I really hate the overuse of ‘awesome’ as a word, but sometimes, someone possesses so many wonderful qualities that in lieu of actually listing them all, it becomes easier just to call them awesome. Melina Marchetta is one of those people.

And yes, even she mispronounces her own name.

[Her, Susanne Gervay and I are huddled around a copy of the Conference program during a break, quietly joking to ourselves. Melina has a problem with her descriptor: “International Star”.

Susanne, clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, says, “Yes, but Melina, you are an international star.”

“Yes, but so is everybody else that’s speaking today,” Melina says, before pointing at all the other authors in the program and detailing their overseas successes.

I interrupt the list – “Now that I’ve got you, quickly, do I say it Marketta or Marchetta?”

“Marketta spelt Marchetta.”

“Ah.” I suppress the urge to admit that I’ve been saying it “Marchetta” for years, and correcting people who pronounced it “Marketta”. I stop feeling bad when she reads her own name aloud 3 minutes later, ch instead of k. I pull her up on it, she laughs a little.]

I’ve only met Melina three times, and yet, she’s so impossibly warm, that bumping into her in the hall is like being reunited with your oldest, greatest friend. The snappy, honest exchange that follows is the sort of thing I’m only used to sharing with people I’ve known a very long time. Sure, I’ve known her through her writing for quite a while, but it’s an experience I’ve had with no other author.

The aforementioned awesomeness helps.

If I had to describe Melina for those that don’t know her, I’d ask you to close your eyes, imagine your ideal friend, imagine that friend is also a superstar author, open your eyes, and BAM! Melina.

She’s the sort of person who deserves a throne in the front of the room, and instead, at the Conference, she sat cross-legged up the back with a few librarians, and listened intently to the speaker.

It was one of those moments that defines someone more than what they’ve ever said or written.

She is the best kind of celebrity, the kind that we feel good celebrating, without being all self-absorbed and ‘celebrity’-y.

Her speech was great too. She went through her entire back catalogue, and talked us through each book. She even dropped a few hints as to what to expect next. Clues: Finnikin. Sequel.

But yes, whether she likes it or not, she is an international star (she did just win the prestigious 2009 US Michael Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and all). If she doesn’t like that descriptor though, she can always just settle for “Melina Marchetta: Made of Awesome”.

Boomerang at the 2010 CBCA Imagine This! Imagine That! Conference

Boomerang Books is proud to announce that this weekend, not only is a member of our Boomerang Books blogging team speaking at the sold-out 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia NSW Branch Conference, but we’ll be live-blogging the two-day event – with scheduled appearances by the big names in Australian children’s writing, including Libby Gleeson, Glenda Millard, Libby Hathorn, Jackie French, Melina Marchetta, Markus Zusak, Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas and Shaun Tan.

For program information, click here. Sad you can’t make it? Itching to ask a particular author a question? Well, send me an email, and I’ll not only be your eyes and ears at the Conference, but I’ll be your mouth.

MAY BOOK GIVEAWAY

Marchetta fans, prepare to go crazy – in May, each of our Boomerang Books Members are in the running to win a signed copy of one of Australia’s finest authors’ latest. The full prize pack includes:

Not a member? Sign up today for your chance to win.

MAY FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

Attention former Facebook Group members, we’ve moved to a brand new fanpage, so be sure to become a fan of Boomerang Books for your chance to win a prize pack that includes:

A big thanks to our friends at Black Dog Books, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Books, Wakefield Press for supporting our giveaways this month.

Adele Walsh on movie adaptations

I’m not the only perpetual adolescent in the world, and the plan is for this blog to feature a range of ‘adolescent’ voices, from young-adult authors, to young-adult readers. Adele Walsh, or as you may know her, Persnickety Snark, is one of the, if not the name in Australian young-adult blogging. Of course, if you said this to her, she’d humbly point out five or six bloggers she thinks are far better – but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m right :-). Every month, thousands flock to her review/commentary website for their young-adult book fix, and we’re excited to announce that she’ll be dropping by this blog every so often, to share her always-relevant two cents.

ADELE WALSH:
Please, don’t rob me of my childhood

The two Ms had a huge part in my love of the Australian young adult literature scene – a Ms Marchetta and a Mr Marsden.  Both were teachers that never taught me in the classroom, instead they influenced me on the page.  Both created two conflicted and strong female protagonists that really spoke to me as an Australian kid. Before that, I had thought of Australian books as whatever came from Mem Fox’s brain. It sounds narrow minded and doesn’t reflect my fantastic school librarians influence at all, but that’s what I thought as a mild-mannered tween book nerd. Hush was great and all but until Josie (Looking for Alibrandi) and Ellie (Tomorrow, When the War Began) came along, I hadn’t really seen myself, or more importantly, who I wanted to be, in the books that I was reading.

The convoluted machinations of the Alibrandi family and the depiction of Sydney allowed me to see myself and my country in startling clarity.  I was twelve and I felt as though my world had opened up. Ellie came along three years later and I embraced her with fiery pride. These girls might have been struck with embarrassing crushes like me but they were strong, smart and impressively verbal. They weren’t perfect but neither was I. Melina Marchetta and John Marsden’s characters are forever ingrained in my memories of my teen years as a result.

You might be wondering at this point why I’m rambling on. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. With the release of the film adaptation trailer of Tomorrow, When the War Began this month, I was struck with a familiar fear.  One I had exactly a decade ago when the adaptation of Looking for Alibrandi was released in theatres. 

In 2000, I had just entered university and was finally in the same age range that Josie Alibrandi and Ellie Linton were when their lives turned upside down. Childhood passions are curious creatures, we hold tight, protecting them from our adult existences. I always used to chuckle when I heard claims that a director ruined a person’s childhood. While it might be melodramatic in some cases, revisiting a childhood landmark or bringing a book into the celluloid can often do just that. It shatters the golden memories that we have of that time in our lives when discovery was joyous.

I exited the cinema in 2000 sorely disappointed in Looking for Alibrandi. I was the only one amongst many of my friends to feel that way. It took me a year to realise I was being ridiculous. Cinema is a vastly different medium than a novel. Nothing was ever going to meet the internal movie that I had relived in my imagination for many years. It didn’t matter that Carly and Ivy were merged into one heinous teenage girl or that the passage of time seemed so much more compact. (That being said, I was devastated that Josie’s cousin, Robert, didn’t feature more heavily but with time I understood that it would have tampered with the narrative flow.) The essence of the novel was there.  In great part this was due to Marchetta’s role as screenwriter. The movie didn’t ruin my childhood image of Josie, Nonna Katia and their family history; it just gave me a deeper appreciation for the novel.

In the ten years since Looking for Alibrandi’s release I have seen other representations of my childhood remade… badly. I have to admit that I refuse to see the adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are due to the fact that it is perfect in my mind and I don’t wish to tamper with that image. I might be robbing myself of reliving that adventure in a different medium, but I am satisfied with the memories I already possess.

The Tomorrow, When the War Began movie went into production in late 2009 under the direction of experienced film maker, Stuart Beattie. With the current Internet age, I was well aware of the progress of producing from scripts to casting to the start of filming. I have been much more aware of the process of recreating a vivid childhood adventure than I was in the case of Marchetta’s novel. I also had an avenue (my blog) to moan about certain developments and share my concerns. When local soapie actors were hired to fill two of the eight central roles, I was outraged. A pin up girl as Ellie? My strong, wilful, intelligent Ellie was going to be depicted by an actress who readily showed off too much cleavage at the Logies? I was quite bereft. I was similarly peeved when a British actress was hired to play one of the teens – they couldn’t find someone good enough with an actual Australian accent? The actor playing Homer doesn’t have a big enough nose! I was scraping the bottom of the complaints barrel and didn’t care. Ellie and Homer were mine and they needed to be perfect.

With some time, some distance and the release of the teaser trailer, I am less concerned. The trailer has managed to depict some ordinary Aussie teens in an impossible situation. It doesn’t look cheap (and nor should it, the budget is around the $20 million mark), the English actress’ accent isn’t half bad and they scuffed the pin up girl up. I don’t know what I loved more – the sight of the jets flying over the camp, Homer getting sacked or Kevin flying through the air as flames chased his back. I have faith that the movie adaptation Tomorrow, When the War Began won’t besmirch my beloved teenage reading experience. And should it go the other way, I know I can accuse it of robbing me of my childhood…

Adele Walsh, Persnickety Snark

On Inspiration

Inspiration is a tricky thing. It comes and goes, and mostly, its habits are unpredictable. If I knew how it all worked, believe me, my second novel would’ve been out by now. Usually someone in front of me has to do something stupid, or something horrible has to happen to me, and when I stop whingeing long enough to laugh and think, ‘Gee, that’d make a great story…’ – inspiration happens, and the words aren’t far off.

I’m not one of those gushing author fanboys who runs up to authors saying, ‘Wow, you inspire me so much.’ In fact, I was saving that baby up for when I met Terry Pratchett for the first time… but I found myself saying it to an author I’d only just met, and whose work I hadn’t read (obviously, since then, I’ve given it more than a glance, and it’s pretty awesome). That author was Patrick Ness, and that was Tuesday.

But our story begins on:

Monday: Melina Marchetta and The Piper’s Son Sydney launch

William Kostakis (moi) with Susanne Gervay

Book launches are great. They’re inspiring. I haven’t been to many (in fact, I’ve been to two, my own – which was pretty darn inspiring – and Melina Marchetta’s). It wasn’t being surrounded by peers in the industry (and making an awkward spectacle of myself as I was introduced to authors I’d been a fan of for a long time, and was trying to remain calm as I told them about a little blog I wrote for) that inspired me.

In fact, blame for inspiration rests solely on Melina Marchetta.

I haven’t known Melina very long. I met her a year ago. I was on a panel with her, scared to death of how I was going to introduce myself to the Melina Marchetta when the closest I’d ever come to reading her books was watching five minutes of Looking For Alibrandi on Channel Ten. So, I approached her, ready with a rehearsed and completely fake, ‘Whoa, your writing shaped my youth!’ (You know, the stuff she hears all the time.) Before I’ve started the spiel, she calls me by my first name (I haven’t introduced myself) and says how much she loved a short story I wrote in high school, and that she used to show it in class when she taught English. Cut to me thinking: ‘Melina… likes… my… writing?’ over and over and over. In fact, before our session, she didn’t even give me time to spew out the spiel. She just kept talking about me. I was struck by how normal, and humble, and nice, someone whose success can only be measured with ‘mega’s could be.

And Book Launch Melina was no different. Someone told me once, you’re not measured by how you handle the bad times, but the grace and humility you exhibit during the good times. There’s no doubting that, with her current career position, Melina is experiencing the good times. And you would never guess it. Having, since the panel, read all of her work, and knowing how successful she’s been (on account of my not living under a rock), I don’t know how someone can be as level-headed as she is.

Her writing inspires me as a writer (I hesitate to use the word ‘fellow’), but her personality, her warmth, and general Melinaness inspires me as a person.

Congratulations, Melina. Everybody here at Boomerang Books wishes you all the best with The Piper’s Son, and we’re already anticipating Book #5.

Tuesday: Patrick Ness speaks at Sydney Uni

To say Patrick Ness is popular would be to understate the fact considerably. I’d never read any of his work, but a lot of you have emailed me about him, so I thought I’d go along to see him speak (my class in the adjacent building finished at 6, he started at 6 – it was practically fate). I went expecting a room filled with teens, but what I found was a room filled with peers, authors I recognised, publishers, editors, and, granted, some teens.

He was a little late. The air was thick with anticipation – you could cut it with a [insert horrible pun with book title here]. Then, showtime.

“I think a reader can tell if the writer is joyous.”

After considering how daunting a task speaking without a topic is, he settled on establishing his own topic: joy. He said he never liked talking about author stuff, and proceeded to talk about his process: joy, joy, joy. To write is to write free of the mechanics of writing, and to just write joy.

It was great to hear such an acclaimed writer (he won the Guardian Prize), talking about writing for young adults like I do, albeit, with more flair, and more experience to back him up. It made me almost feel like I knew what I was talking about…

Namely, if you’re writing for kids: don’t write “lesson” narratives, with “issues” tick-boxes to work your way through, because they don’t equal good novels.

“Write for the teenager you were. If you think you were atypical, well, the point of being a teenager is being atypical.”

He emphasised not worrying about the genre and the audience. Cue the subtle glances from my editor – she was in the row in front, and had told me that exact thing about a bajillion times in the past year.

Just focus on joy.

“Write with joy, everything else will follow.”

The words made me want to whip out my pen and pad right then and there – well, my pen and pad were out (I was taking notes for Boomerangers), so I wanted to turn the page and plough through my new book then and there. He was really quite sensational to hear speak, and judging by what I’ve read of his work since, he has the words to back him up.

He made me want to write again, and not write to get the novel done, but write for joy.

Fans of both Patrick Ness and Melina Marchetta should keep their eyes on the blog, we have some really great prizes for you coming very soon. Signed prizes.

Marchetta and Lanagan vie for Sakura Medal

The nominees for the 2010 Sakura Medal have been announced in Japan, with Australian authors making the list.

In the High School category, Melina Marchetta (for her Finnikin of the Rock), Joanne Horniman (My Candlelight Novel) and Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels) join Boomerang Books’ own William Kostakis (Loathing Lola) in the running for the Medal.

Japanese international students vote for their favourite nominee. The winners will be announced on April 28, 2010.

Margo Lanagan will be appearing on the Boomerang Books Blog early in the New Year.

William’s note: I’m deeply honoured to have been selected on the list, especially among such fine company… It’s surreal to see my name beside so many authors I grew up with, admired, and aspired to be… Now, here’s hoping an Aussie brings it home! 🙂

CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK: Melina Marchetta

In what will no doubt set a dangerous precedent for the years to come, this week, to celebrate the CBCA’s Book Week, we’re doing something very special here at the Boomerang Blog. We’ve invited a selection of Australian children’s author to drop by and guest blog for us – one for every day of the week.

We’re kicking off with Melina Marchetta, whose books include the quintessential Australian young adult book, Looking For Alibrandi, which became a successful film, and On The Jelicoe Road, recent winner of the prestigious 2009 US Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

Enjoy.

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When I was in Year Six, my best friend and I were in charge of discarding the garbage in the school incinerator. As much as I’m thankful for recycling bins and child protection these days, it was there that our imaginations went haywire and we managed to bludge whole afternoons. Except for the term when my teacher read the class Ivan Southall’s Hills End. Setting our hair alight no longer interested me because I was desperate to return to class and listen to a story about a group of country Australian kids and their teacher separated from the rest of their town because of a storm and a lie. I savoured the love triangle between Paul, Frances and Adrian, I loved the moral dilemma faced by Adrian, long demoralised by his father, and I was introduced to the importance of the secondary characters. When Ivan Southall died last year I felt a sadness that we never got to meet. I would love to have told how important his work was to me.

By high school, I enjoyed any story written about teenagers. Most were from the US, like Paul Zindel’s My Darling My Hamburger. I remember in Year Eight, Judy Blume’s Forever being passed around the room with the important sex references dog eared for quick consumption. It wasn’t until I studied at university that I was truly introduced to Australian YA and I fell in love with the genre because of novels like John Marsden’s So Much To Tell You, Simon French’s All We Know and Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn.

Although my own novels aren’t specifically written for a particular audience, I’m forever grateful that they’ve found a home in the hands of teenagers who don’t go around questioning where the adults are in a story about boarding school territory wars. Teenagers don’t care much about audience or themes or finding out why a story works the way it does. But they do love language and they’ll go around quoting their favourite lines. When you ask them why it’s their favourite, their response isn’t about the use of assonance and alliteration and juxtaposition. Instead they say, “I just like the sound of it. It makes me feel something.”

NSW Writers’ Centre: 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival (July 4-5)

Excitement is ramping up for the upcoming NSW Writers’ Centre’s two-day event, the 4th Kids and YA Literature Festival, held July 4-5. The Festival’s bringing together some of the best Australian authors and illustrators, publishers, scriptwriters and industry advocates in what has been dubbed “a celebration of story and the special world of Children’s Literature”.

I was lucky enough to have been invited as a guest speaker, but honestly, I’m far more excited about the company I keep, which includes Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Kate Forsyth (check out our interview here), Libby Gleeson, James Roy (check out our exclusive interview here), and Ursula Dubosarsky.

It’s shaping up to be a dynamic weekend. The Saturday is the day for the traditional Festival goings-on, speeches and panels, while the Sunday is dedicated to workshops, industry consultations and manuscript assessments with some of the best in the writing community.

So, Sydneysiders, if you’d like to meet me and other (read: more important) figures in the Australian Children’s literary landscape, there’s more information here.

ABC Radio National THE BOOK SHOW: Kids literature awards accused of elitism

A friend passed this on, and as a children’s author whose novel was ignored by awards judges, I have to say that I agree with the idea that there is an element of elitism in kids’ lit judging despite exceedingly favourable reviews… That said, I’m sure I’d be singing a different tune if my book was garnering awards… What do YOU think about this story from ABC?

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/stories/2009/2595153.htm

Plenty of disgruntled authors both in Australia and abroad argue that there’s an underlying philosophy of snobbery among judges of children’s literature awards. Part of the problem is that the top prizes tend to go to books children don’t necessarily want to read.

But is there anything wrong with judges focusing on the highbrow end of the market, or should popularity play a part in their decisions? A confidential report commissioned by the Children’s Book Council of Australia suggests the time might be right to overhaul Australia’s top children’s literature award.

Melina Marchetta
Australian author of young adult fiction

James Maloney
Australian children’s author

Andy Griffiths
Australian children’s author

Mike Shuttleworth
Program Manager, Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria

Anita Silvey
American children’s book expert