It’s that time of year again! The beautiful ocean suburb of Williamstown is holding their annual Willy Lit Fest, and this year promises to be the best one yet! Most exciting of all is the #LoveOzYA panels that are running this year–we can’t wait! We had the pleasure of chatting to three amazing YA authors, Rebecca Lim, Michael Pryor, and Gabriel Bergmoser, about their upcoming panel Sci-fi versus Fantasy: A Debate. It sounds like so much fun and we can’t wait to attend on June 15th!
What are you hoping the audience will get out of this debate?
Laughter, and a sense of curiosity about reading Sci Fi and/or Fantasy fiction that maybe they didn’t have before the debate. Both the Sci Fi and Fantasy genres have come a long way since I started reading these kinds of books as a kid in the early 1980s (the era of booby, half-naked lady book covers) and I’d like the audience to see the possibilities of writing, or reading, both kinds of books.
What do you love most about fantasy?
The sense that the extraordinary can bleed into the ordinary, and that magic – grand magic or everyday magic – is always possible.
Who would win in a fight: Gandalf or Doctor Who?
I like to think Gandalf and the Doctor would sit down over a cup of tea rather than fight, but if they did – due to some sort of malign spell – I suspect Gandalf would whip the Doctor. He beat a Balrog, after all.
Williamstown is known for its ghosts. Will you be going ghost hunting during your time there?
Ghost hunting is a night time thing, but I suspect if I were to head out, the Timeball Tower would be a potential treasure trove of ghosts, and the old naval dockyards get a mention in ‘Gap Year in Ghost Town’ as a ghosty hotbed of sightings.
(No, really, Williamstown is haunted! We went ghost hunting for Halloween last year, check out the vlog here!)
Did you grow up reading sci-fi or fantasy?
I read a fair bit of both, but then I read a bit of just about everything, including books that were wildly inappropriate for kids. My main engagement with fantasy growing up was probably a deep obsession with The Lord of the Rings, although admittedly the movies are more responsible for that than the books. It’s testament to how obsessed I was with Tolkien’s world that I managed to work my way through the trilogy over the course of 2002, but for an eleven year old the extensive Elvish poetry was somewhat less than compelling.
Describe the perfect YA hero/heroine?
A great YA hero/heroine should be both relatable and inspiring; somebody who has recognisable flaws and failings but whom we can ultimately look up to. To me, the benchmark will always be Ellie Linton in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, who was a perfect mix of fragility, bravery and sometimes striking shortcomings. It’s hard to think of many characters who felt as real to me as Ellie did growing up.