A month of book launches

If I had to say one of the best things about the world of YA, it’s getting to know the writers. In the next two months at least four of the Sydney gang I know will be launching new novels.  Anyone can come along.  A synopsis of each novel is at the end of this post.

I love these women. They are smart, funny, down to earth and kind. Whenever I get to speak to them, one on one or in a  group I’m in awe of how much we can cover in so little time: writing (not much talk about that); family, religion, movies, TV, racism; food; social networking; luddites; bullies; sport; our plethora of primeministers; sexism; grief; community; ignorance; hair and make up.

I hope I get all the facts right below.

The first novel to be launched is Megan Jacobson’s debut novel, Yellow on Thursday 28th January at Kinokuniya

http://www.kinokuniya.com.au/events/yellow-book-launch/

 

MeganOn the 4th of February,  Justine Larbalestier and Kirsty Eagar will be launching  their novels My Sister Rosa and Summer Skin together, and entertaining the crowd with a discussion about Sex and Pyschopaths.     http://www.kinokuniya.com.au/events/sex-and-psychopaths/

 

JustineKirsty

On the 25th of February Sarah Ayoub will be launching her second novel at Kinokuniya, The Yearbook Committee.

 

Sarah

Yellow by Megan Jacobson

If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one. “

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even. The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls. The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess. A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable? It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?
The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.
The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?
The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.
Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

 

A whole lot of Misc to start 2016

Firstly, Happy New Year.

The paperback edition of The Piper’s Son comes out in Australia today. If anyone is interested, during January, I’ll respond to any burning questions you’ve ever had about the novel in the comments section.

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Except the Jimmy Hailler question, which I’ll address now.

No, I’m not currently writing a Jimmy Hailler book. But it may seem as if I am.  If you are inclined to read my next novel due out in September  (more of that down below) then the prologue will present you with two Jimmys. Netiher is Jimmy Hailler.

I know. How cruel. Didn’t do it on purpose. Wasn’t thinking. Tried to change their names, but once you name those characters, it’s really hard to change much about them.

In saying the above, a Jimmy Hailler novel does exist in my head and has for a while. It’s a four-hander and he’s one of the narrators. I’ve said it before,  I know a bit about him. He’s the first out of the “Francesca” gang to procreate, accidently. It’ll be an adult novel because Jimmy’s now in his mid twenties and two of the other main narrators are my age (young in spirit but greying slightly). I’ve actually written about one of the characters, Mattie, in a short story called “The Centre” for the 2013 anthology “Just Between Us”.  Mattie fleetingly mentions her step demon, and this year, I’m hoping to write the short story from that step daughter’s point of view which is called “When Rosie met Jim”. And then I’d like to write the short story from Jim’s perspective when he returns to Sydney after being away for quite some time, and crashes on his friend’s couch. For now most of that is in my head, and it’s all I can offer the Jimmy readers.

The not so bad problem about being a writer is that you think you’re ready to start on something and all of a sudden, a whole new bunch of characters jump into your head. That’s what happened a couple of years ago with Bish Ortley and the characters from Shaming the Devil. I’ve handed in a close-to-final edit and you’ll be seeing it in the second half of this year. It’s the first time I’ve completed an edit simultaneously with two different publishers, one in Australia and the other in the US. I’ve loved the experience and have been most fortunate working with the smartest of editors. As you probably know, it’s a crime thriller, but I can’t see it not suiting most of the readership I’ve come to know. My main focus in writing is always the relationships, the characters and the communities they find themselves part of.  For now, I’ll leave you with a couple of lines from the letter sent to me early last year by my Australian publisher, Ben Ball.

…  It’s alternately gripping, moving, challenging, and funny – it feels, somehow, genuine and joyous, despite its darker sections. It feels somehow wholehearted. It’s about family, loss, adolescence, middle-age, old age … it captures an enormous chunk of the world.

On a quick note, the Jellicoe film dream is still alive. New producers came on board last year, who I respect and who truly understand the guts of the novel and the film so fingers crossed that there’s exciting news to tell in 2016. Thankfully, the film script is ready and waiting so my part in the process is over.

Finally, here is the cover for Brazillian Jellicoe.  I think it’s my favourite so far. The artist’s name is Carlo Giovani. I was also sent a photograph on how it was put together – one piece is superimposed on to another.  Have I said enough how much I love a good designer of books.

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28th October 2015: The Newtown Festival and Tom Mackee

For Sydney people, I will be speaking alongside Justine Larbalestier, Erin Gough and Margo Lanagan at the Newtown Festival.  Below are details about the writer’s tent activities.

When:  Sunday November 8th

Where:  Newtown Festival, Camperdown Memorial Rest Park

What time: 2pm

http://www.newtownfestival.org/writers_tent.html

For those familiar with The Piper’s Son, Camperdown is where we encounter Tom in Chapter One, stumbling out of hospital.  It’s inner-west Mackee territory, part of the grid he won’t step out of.  The paperback edition of The Piper’s Son is coming out early next year and just looking at the revised cover choked me a bit with a very bittersweet nostalgia. I think it ties with Saving Francesca, as my favourite.  Don’t quote me because I’ll contradict that next time I blog and choose The Lumatere Chronicles or Jellicoe, but Tom, Frankie and the gang are the most real to me.

Thank you, as always, to the designer Marina Messiha who always does something a bit special with the covers.

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Link

This is one of my favourite and funniest Lumatere summaries by a reader that I’ve read (and I’ve loved many). So if you’re Audrey, the creator of it, let me know and I’ll send you the three copies you so desire. Many thanks.

PS.  Let me know if I broke some copyright thing by posting it here.

Adaptation Workshop Cairns North Queensland (26th August)

I’ve been invited to present a masterclass with regards to film adaptations in Cairns North Queensland.  Details below.

Date: Wednesday August 26

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, Cairns City Library, 151 Abbott St, Cairns

Price QWC Members $20.  Others $25.00

Here is the link for booking: http://www.qwc.asn.au/events/qld-script-house/writing-adaptations/

Please come along if you are in the area. These are the sort of events that I love doing best so it was a sort of yes! straight away when I was asked. I will obviously be speaking about Alibrandi, but also the Jellicoe script which is done and dusted and waiting patiently.

Here is the QWC’s  blurb for the event.

Have a book that is made for the screen? Explore how to adapt another property for the screen in this exclusive Cairns event featuring the award-winning author and screenwriter Melina Marchetta.

Melina Marchetta is the writer of eight novels including The Piper’s Son, longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.  She is the scriptwriter of Looking For Alibrandi, based on her novel which won an AFI Award, NSW Premier’s Award, IF award and Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay.  She has written for  the ABC’s Dance Academy and has completed the adaptation of her novel On the Jellicoe Road.

Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned pro, this course will help you to hone your creative and professional skills and establish a successful screenwriting career.

27th July 2015: Celebrating two new Aussie YA voices

I wish I had more time to talk about other people’s work. So much great stuff has come out in Australia this year. Two new writers in particular have crossed my path.

In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker will be launched this Thursday at Kinokuniya in Sydney at 6pm (RSVP 92627996 ) As I said in my blurb  “One of the most original novels I’ve read for a long time.”

It’s powerful, has a great premise and a strong voice. (And what a great cover)

Synopsis: Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the face of a monster. It’s a small town and no one can stand to even look at her. But when Alice encounters her sister on a deserted highway, ‘bad’ is just the beginning. Alice soon finds herself trapped in a dangerous new reality: a broken world that’s filled with the nightmares of everyone in the community.

Here, with old secrets finally coming together, Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened that day in the schoolyard … including her hidden connection to the boy who hates her most.

IntheSkinofaMonster-1Extract:

‘I know what you are,’ he whispered, just loud enough for me to hear. His voice was stripped back to the bare essentials of hate and something else, something raw.

I held my breath… and I realised that I was waiting for him to tell me, because I honestly didn’t know.

All I could think was, What? What am I? I wished someone would give me an answer, instead of Dr Ben crapping on about me being ‘my own person’ and everyone from town only ever seeing a monster in me. And what was I now? What was I now that I was in the body of some twisted, dreamt-up version of you?

I was so desperate for any kind of answer that I was prepared to let Lux tell me. Prepared to let anyone tell me. But he didn’t. He didn’t say another word. He just sat there, letting me suffer.

In the three years after what you did I was pretty careful not to hate anybody. Hate wasn’t a good sign when you were in my particular situation. Strong emotions were to be carefully avoided, et cetera. But in that moment I made an exception. For the first time since what you did I allowed myself the indulgence of truly hating someone back. And you know what? Dr Ben was right all along – hate really is a gateway drug. One little taste, and pretty soon you’re into the hard stuff. 

Next, is The Flywheel by Erin Gough.  It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, it’s got what I love in novels; great characters, relationships, a strong funny voice and a great sense of place.  I spoke on the same panel as Erin in May at the Sydney Writer’s Festival (and Laurie Halse Anderson and Barry Jonsberg).

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Delilah’s crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she’s been struggling to run the family’s cafe without him and survive high school. But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, she’s become the school punchline as well. With all that’s on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.

The_Flywheel_Cover_RGB_for online

Excerpt: The tall girl with the red skirt is Angeline. Ramon, all in black, is her brother. The other girl, her dark hair parted down the middle and fixed with a tortoiseshell comb, is their cousin. Her name is Rosa Barea, and she is the reason I stand here watching: watching and imagining, as she dances, her arms around my waist, and my hands on her hips.

Erin Gough says, “I wanted to write a book with a gay character more or less comfortable with her identity, and to give readers who may not have seen themselves represented in YA before that thrill of recognition, and the message that they matter.” 


30th June 2015: The joys and woes of film adaptations

Yesterday I read a wonderful article in the online Australian Guardian about the film adaptation of Looking For Alibrandi. (see attachment below)

Back in 2000, the film came out on the same day as Gladiator and the same year as Chopper, two well made and acted films about men and violence. In a way, it seemed as if we didn’t stand a chance, yet Alibrandi found a place for itself. But dare I ask over and over again, where is the cultural diversity in our films and TV shows today? There are less Josie Alibrandi types on Australian screens these days than fifteen years ago. Some might see that as assimilation, but I’d  say it’s regression.

To be honest, I sometimes wonder if Alibrandi would have been made in today’s Australian film climate, and not just because of cultural identity.  Getting distribution for films is so much about risk taking, and if there’s something that I’ve come to understand from the Jellicoe experience, it’s that distributors won’t take risks when it comes to adaptations about teenagers that don’t have millions of readers or a ready-made market.  Which is such a pity because Alibrandi didn’t have millions of readers, but the novel struck a nerve in the way that both the Jellicoe novel and script has.  Let’s hope that one day Jellicoe will become a reality because Taylor Markham is fearless and vulnerable and annoying and endearing in the same way Josie Alibrandi is.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jun/30/looking-for-alibrandi-australia-best-teen-movie