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:

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.


‘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.

4th June 2015: Ett Folk Utan Land

Finnikin of the Rock has been released in Sweden.  The title translates roughly as a People without a land which is pretty spot on.  Below is as an interview I did with Kulturkollo.

I hate promising anything when it comes to my writing, but I’ve said often enough that I’d love to have the next Lady Celie novella out this year. So I’m writing little crumbs as they come to me, but they are lovely crumbs that feature one of my favourite characters, Isaboe.




22nd May 2015: The new novel

I’m very happy to be able to speak about the next novel after it was announced publicly today.

It’s a crime thriller called Shaming the Devil and will be published by LIttle Brown in the US and Penguin Books in Australia sometime later next year.  I’m about to start the edit, so very exciting.  The reaction from those who have read this early draft has been humbling. I will talk more about the process leading up to this draft in future posts but probably won’t go too much more into the content, except for the synopsis.  As much as I can’t say it’s written in the same genre I’ve been used to before with YA and fantasy, I do believe it carries the same emotional punch with its large cast of characters and as much as it may seem very London, there is a very strong Australian presence in it. I’m hoping that all my readers who have grown up with my work these past twenty years, will love it.

Also, I will be speaking at the Sydney Writer’s Festival down at Walsh Bay this Sunday at 1.30 with Erin Gough, Laurie Halse Anderson and Barry Jonsberg.  Very much looking forward to our chat.  From past festivals, I would not advise leaving it to the last minute because I have spent many a time as a spectator not getting in.

Here is the synopsis.

Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop.  Almost over it.  Still not deaing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break up of his marriage. 

Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board. 

The suspect is 17 year old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.

As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, he finds himself reluctantly working with Noor LeBrac and her younger brother, Jimmy Sarraf.

And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours.  Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter. 

Tell the truth. Shame the devil.  Bish can’t get Violette LeBrac’s words out of his head. But what he may get is some sort of peace with his own past as the worlds of those involved in two bombings, years apart, collide into the journey of his life.

26th March 2015: Pink Penguin

PinkAlibrandi Wonderful news coming soon about my next novel, but for the time being something new about something old.

Yet another Alibrandi cover I love.  More than anything I love the cause. Preventing breast cancer and supporting the McGrath Foundation which was co-founded by the late Jane McGrath and Glenn McGrath. This edition comes out on the 19th of April at $9.95. Here is the blurb from the Penguin website.

The McGrath Foundation raises money to place McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities right across Australia and to increase breast awareness in young women. The McGrath Foundation believes 150 of these specially trained nurses are needed to ensure that every family experiencing breast cancer has access to a breast care nurse, no matter where they live or their financial situation.  McGrath Breast Care Nurses offer a unique service to families who can self-refer to this free support.

I also have a non fiction piece in an anthology published by Pan Macmillan called Mothers and Others.  It has an amazing list of writers attached and I’m pretty excited being part of it.  I think it comes out on the 1st of April.