As a part of our #LoveOzYA Month, we’re super excited to bring you this exclusive Q&A with Nova Weetman! We absolutely love her work, and she’s such a major part of the #LoveOzYA community. We hope you enjoy!
As an author of both Children’s and Young Adult novels, what differences have you noticed that separate the two readerships?
My books are contemporary real world stories, so even though I’m writing for two distinct readerships, the themes are often similar. They’re about friendships, family, identity and working out where you fit. I think the main difference is that young adult readers want a more complex story than middle grade readers do, purely because of where they’re at. Middle grade readers will often read up, so they may also read YA, but the YA readers don’t tend to read down. My daughter stopped reading middle grade once she started high school. It was like an invisible line that she refused to cross.
#LoveOzYA is an amazing movement to help celebrate and support our amazing Aussie Authors, what do you do to help spread the love?
I have a Love OzYA obsessed teen in the house so between us we read a lot of local teen fiction. I go to as many book launches and events as I can and always promote Love OzYA when I do school visits and author talks. Social media has been an excellent resource for local authors and I think the fact that everyone supports each other so much on social media is remarkable.
Do you have any OzYA novels that you read when you were growing up that stand out even today? What were they, and why have they stayed with you?
I’m pretty old (don’t tell anyone) so when I was a teenager there wasn’t much OzYA being published. I lived on Judy Blume and Paul Zindel and embarrassingly every single book in the Flowers in the Attic series. It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve read all the classic Australian YA books. I do remember reading Looking for Alibrandi when I was in my early 20s and wishing it had been around when I was a teen. It had a huge impact on me. I have loved Robin Klein’s books for many years, particularly Came Back to Show You I could Fly, although this is probably more middle grade than YA. I think the books that stay with me have been those crossover books – the books that sit slightly between two readerships.
When writing for an older age group, do you tend to write emotions/experiences that you’ve experienced? Or do you write out of your comfort zone?
I always try and remember what I felt like as a teen. How confused I was. How torn between wanting to still hang out with my younger brother and wanting to wear make-up. How much my parents drove me nuts. I write a lot about friendships and I guess while I’ve never been a teenage boy – those feelings of loneliness and exclusion are the same for all of us. Although writing about two boys accidentally killing someone was definitely outside my comfort zone. I think I use my own emotional experiences as a backbone to a story and then create the narrative around that. The emotions are mine, but the stories are not.
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author/writer?
Don’t be put off by rewriting. I always thought I could bang out a great first draft, and it would be pretty close to publishable. Nope. Everything is Changed took 13 drafts and multiple edits before it was ready to be published. No writer gets it right first up.
Thank you, Nova!
Writer of Film Victoria funded short films Ripples and Mr Wasinski’s Song (AWGIE nomination and winner Best Australian Short at MIFF). TV writer and storyliner for Neighbours, Pixel Pinkie, H20,Buzz Bumble, Wild But True and Fanshaw and Crudnut. Short fiction published in Overland, Mslexia, Kill Your Darlings, Wet Ink and Island and non-fiction in Overland and Fairfax Media. Writer of two middle-grade books in the Choose Your Own Ever After series for Hardie Grant, and three YA novels through UQP, including Everything is Changed (CBCA Notable). Her middle grade novel, The Secrets We Keep, was a CBCA Notable, shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Prize and shortlisted for the ABIA Awards. Her new middle grade novel The Secrets We Share is out November 2017.