Writing YA | Taryn Bashford

The next instalment in our month of #LoveOzYA goodness is a piece written by Aussie author, Taryn Bashford! We loved reading about her life as a writer and why she writes YA. We can’t wait to read her novel, The Harper Effect!

Thank you, Taryn!

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From the age of five I wanted to be a writer. I have a trunk full of stories I wrote in coloured pens, books I stapled together, self-illustrated covers I designed. They included stories about the Smurfs, or a family of ants after the grass disappeared, or secret treasures to find. But when I became a teenager, I began to write adult novels with adult characters and adult situations.

When I look back and ask myself why this happened, given I loved reading books like Anne of Green Gables and The Outsiders, I think it’s because when I was a teen there wasn’t a YA or teen shelf in my library or bookstore. Anne of Green Gables was lumped into the children’s section, and as I was no longer a child, I no longer read those books or wrote in that genre.Read More »

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Q&A with Mark Smith

Today we have another excellent #LoveOzYA interview with an author we love – Mark Smith! Read all about his recent YA release, how he writes, and what some of his favourite #LoveOzYA novels are. We hope you enjoy!

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We loved you novel, The Road To Winter, and it’s sequel. Why did you decide to focus your novel on such a serious topic?

I didn’t really set out to write a serious book. First and foremost I wanted to tell a gripping story because, as a reader, that’s what I look for in fiction. The development of the characters in the dystopian setting I create allows me to explore some deeper issues around violence, the treatment of asylum seekers and climate change. Being an educator, I know one of the best ways of engaging young people in an issue is to personalise it – create characters they feel a deep empathy for, then look at the way they deal with conflict, cruelty and a changed world. Younger readers will relate to them by putting themselves in the characters’ shoes and thinking about how they would deal with such a situation.

What type of research did you have to undertake to ensure that your novels were received well?

I work principally with fifteen year old boys, many of them reluctant readers. So I began by surveying them about their reading habits and putting together a list of what they look for in a novel. Not surprisingly, they wanted suspense, humour, a twist (or three), unpredictability, mystery, a deeper story, thrills, action, a strong climax and not too much description. I added strong female characters, a sixteen year old protagonist and a blooming romance – and I had the framing for the Winter series.Read More »

Aussie Road Trip | Beck Nicholas

Today we have a wonderful post by Aussie author, Beck Nicholas, to share with you! In this piece, she discusses why she loved #LoveOzYA set in Australia and how Australia has such diversity in its landscapes and settings. And road trips! We can’t wait to read her next novel, The Last Days of Us.

Thank you, Beck!

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So happy to be posting here for The YA Room’s #LoveOzYA month! Something I particularly adore about OzYA is when the books are set right here. It could be next door, in my city or down the road (of course in Aussie terms that could be a very long way away indeed). But whether it’s a suburban street or the great outback, Australia has amazing settings that can add to a story in so many ways. It can be terribly/wonderfully mundane, incredibly desolate, achingly impressive or simply familiar to Aussie readers like me and there’s something so great about that.

I also love a road trip book.

There’s something about the character leaving everything behind to go on an adventure. The changing scenery, the tight confines of a car or van, the suspension of the everyday. It makes for a great story. Read More »

Q&A with Sarah Epstein

Sarah Epstein’s Small Spaces is one of the #LoveOzYA debuts coming out next year that we can’t wait to get our hands on, so we couldn’t resist asking her a few questions for our #LoveOzYA Month to learn more about it! This is an interview you don’t want to miss – and you’ll be adding a ton of awesome #LoveOzYA novels to your TBR as well!

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We’re so excited that your debut YA novel, Small Spaces, is being released next year! What was your path to publication like?

Thank you! I’m so excited too! I’d like to say my path to publication was relatively straightforward, but the truth is it took several years of submitting three different manuscripts to agents and editors before Small Spaces found a home. I started writing YA around a decade ago and it took me a few years to finish my first manuscript because I was bringing up babies and running a small business at the same time. I ended up shelving that manuscript after its first round of submissions because I realised it had a couple of major plot issues. But my second manuscript snagged me a US agent and was shopped around to US publishers for the best part of a year, resulting in a disappointingly close call at acquisitions and loads of rejections. I’d started writing Small Spaces by that stage, but ended up parting ways with my agent. It was a really challenging time because I felt like I’d tumbled to the bottom of the heap again, and I really had to pick myself up and keep going. Nicola, my editor from Walker Books, stumbled across my website after I’d just started querying Small Spaces, and after reading a short synopsis on my site, she requested my manuscript the same day. From there it took another nine months of back and forth with Walker, including another revision of the manuscript, before I was offered a contract.Read More »

Q&A with Read3r’s Re-Vu

We’re so thrilled to have this Q&A with Aussie reviewer, Annie McCann! Annie created Read3r’s Re-Vu to help bring readers together, and her determination and hard-work has been such an integral part of the Aussie bookish community. It was great to be able to ask her a few questions!

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I’m Annie McCann, the founder and head co-ordinator of a network of readers called Read3r’z Re-Vu. I created this network (name and all) at the end of 2008 and launched in 2009 and still running! I host sessions once a month with a prescribed theme not book so we can have a wide range of reviews to endorse wide reading. To help drive the network I have a committee that work with me to keep it alive: NJ, Meredith and Sarah.

Over the years we have had Aussie YA authors join us as special guests and have also had the pleasure of hosting exclusive high teas with them too. It means so much to me to have Aussie YA authors part of Read3r’z Re-Vu as they play such an important role in the Australian book industry. I’m an advocate of supporting local talent so having them part of this network supports the fabulous work they do and enables our members to mingle with the brilliant minds behind our favourite reads!!Read More »

Q&A with Cait Drews (AKA Paper Fury)

Hello again, everyone! Today we have a very special Q&A with Cait AKA Paper Fury AKA C.G. Drews! ALL THREE OF THEM. They might all be the same person, but that’s highly unlikely considering Cait is the queen of Twitter and Instagram and blogging and she’s an author so… I reckon she’s actually multiple beings ruling over different dominions.

Ever since we heard that Cait’s debut novel is being published, we haven’t stopped squealing about it! We’re so happy for her, and as a #LoveOzYA author, we just had to ask her a few questions for our #LoveOzYA Month! We hope you enjoy!

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If you had to describe yourself by naming three bookish characters, which characters would you choose?

Ooh I love this question! So I’d love to say Cath from Fangirl who is a writer and huge booknerd, and Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races who is quiet and probably likes magical creatures better than anything else, and also Lazlo Strange from Strange The Dreamer who fell into a book and can’t get up.

Ooh such great choices! As bloggers and readers, all of us must have a piece of Cath within us. And yes, we can definitely relate to falling into a book and not being able to get up.

As a blogger and a writer, what does #LoveOzYA mean to you? Why is it important?  

It’s important to me because it’s my country and people! As a bookworm, my life is pretty flooded with American and British books, so it’s always super amazing to read a book that has Aussie slang and culture and humour woven into it, and I hope to do that with my writing too.Read More »

#LoveOzYA During My Teen Years | Gillian Haines

We always find it fascinating to hear what people liked reading when they were growing up, so today, Gillian is doing just that by sharing their most influential books they read as a teen!

Thank you, Gillian!

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I love YA and I’m fascinated by the culture(s) surrounding those who write and read it. One thing often stands out to me at the events I’ve attended and in articles I’ve read online – when (adult) people talk about YA it is nearly always in the context of what they wish they had growing up. They wish they had stories about kids their age, they wish they had stories set where they lived or with characters that spoke like them. Of course this is valid, and I’m really glad for the increasing diversity of YA stories, but I also find it interesting. I was fifteen when Twilight came out, and Teen/YA sections started popping up in bookstores when I was finishing up high school. #LoveOZYA didn’t happen until I was well in my twenties, and the diversity of books we have now definitely didn’t exist. However, I don’t think I experienced that lack of Australian stories others talk about.

I don’t know if there was some kind of precursor to #LoveOzYa in the nineties, but my school libraries (from primary to grade 12) had an abundance of fabulous ‘Oz YA’ books. While they may not have been the blockbuster successes of Twilight or The Hunger Games, Australian books for children and teens have always felt strong. Authors such as John Marsden and Jackie French have been both prolific and well-known to more than one generation of young readers. As many of us like to say, Australian YA punches above its weight.Read More »