This weekend, we’re lucky enough to be attending the Clunes Booktown Festival! Clunes is a small town in regional Victoria near Ballarat, and it’s decked out in bookshops and everything bookish. We’re super excited to be going up to Clunes for the weekend to attend panels of all kinds, meet some awesome Aussie authors, and buy some books.
There’s nothing we love more than book events, so a weekend full of them is all we could ever have asked for. We haven’t been to Clunes before, so we’re excited to explore the area and become fully immersed in the literary atmosphere. We’ll be vlogging the weekend and sharing heaps of photos on social media, so make sure you’re following us so you can experience Clunes with us.
We’re thrilled to share three Q&As with some of the #LoveOzYA authors we’re most excited to see – Jaclyn Moriarty, Ellie Marney, and Zana Fraillon! These authors will be appearing on multiple panels over the weekend, so make sure you check out the schedule if you’re keen on attending. Tickets are still available!
Besides your appearance at the Clunes Booktown Festival, what would your dream panel look like – assuming you can pick up any author from any time period in your TARDIS?
I love this question! Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley (so I can see the interaction between the two of them), Byron (similar reason, although this is risky as I think that Mary, Percy and Byron would dominate the panel, so I need some strong personalities now to balance them), Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Diana Wynne Jones, Ralph Ellison, Jackie French, Sally Gardner, Roxane Gay, Liane Moriarty, Nicola Moriarty (because I love being on panels with my sisters), the Bronte family, Christopher Marlowe (so that we can solve the mystery of his death and find out whether he actually wrote any of Shakespeare’s plays, and because he will be so grateful to be asked along instead of Shakespeare for once).
We are going to need a lot of microphones.
Did you always want to be an author? Do you have any cringe-worthy first attempts at stories or novels you can share with us?
I wanted to be an author from when I was six and grew up writing stories on the backs of napkins and important documents. I think the napkins have been tossed and the important documents are probably in files being important.
There is a sample of one of my earliest ‘novels’ on my website, I think — I’ll see if I can find any other samples to send to you but mostly they’re just Enid Blyton rip-offs.
What’s one trope you always love seeing in books, and one you’d rather see die?
I ALWAYS love the trope of the hot bath, warm robe, and hot chocolate by the fire after a situation of extreme weather/emotional crisis. I also love it when a place is very messy and rundown and there’s a big clean-up and everything ends up polished and shiny.
I can’t stand the trope of the middle age man in crisis who has affairs, quits his job and does a lot of drinking and drugs and it is all justifiable, even commendable, because his head is full of philosophy and poetry and he is therefore better than this average, suburban life he has found himself living and he will, in the end, win a young, beautiful, feisty woman with a degree in classics who will quote poetry right back at him.
If you could only read the same book for a year, which book would you choose?
I was going to say the dictionary as it seemed like a good opportunity to build my vocabulary, but then I felt a bit depressed by that idea. Maybe I’d read the Complete Emily Dickinson or actually some kind of HUGE COMPENDIUM of poems, because you can re-read poems many times and it would be an opportunity to memorise a few of the best, ready to quote to the middle-age man in crisis when I save him from his existential despair one day.
What #LoveOzYA novels have you read and loved recently?
Cath Crowley, Words in Deep Blue, Will Kostakis, The Sidekicks, Emily Gale, The Other Side of Summer, Ellie Marney’s Every series.
Have you been to the Clunes Booktown Festival before? Besides your own panel, which authors are you most looking forward to hearing speak?
No! (Even though I live right next door, practically, which is a bit shameful!) So I’m very excited to be here. I’d like to see Richard Flanagan speak (except we are scheduled at the same time! Alas! I will try to get to one of his other panels) and I’d also like to see Nevo Zisin’s panel on fighting youth depression and bullying through writing.
When you’re writing, do you have any requirements or preferences? Do you like to drink coffee while you write? What kind of setting do you prefer?
I usually have a cup of tea or coffee or some other beverage while I’m writing – and I love to write in bed! I also don’t like to listen to music with lyrics – I have a recording of ocean sounds, which is good for writing (and sometimes for sending me to sleep…oh dear)
What are some of your favourite YA book-to-movie adaptations? If you could turn any book into a movie or TV show instantly, what would you pick?
Well I won’t lie – I would love to see one of my books become a movie, that would be awesome! But I know that making tv/films involves a lot of moving parts, so it’s quite hard to get from book on page to visuals on-screen. I think the best adaptation I’ve seen was actually one from the Harry Potter series, The Prisoner of Azkaban. I know it’s a bit sacrilegious, but I actually thought the director (Alfonse Cuaron) improved on and streamlined the original plot!
If you had to swap lives with one of your characters, who would you choose?
Ah, that’s hard. But I think I would like to swap with Amita Blunt from No Limits, because a) she’s a talented photographer, plus b) she has a lovely family, and especially c) she gets Harris Derwent, so she’s kind of winning that one.
What upcoming #LoveOzYA novels are you eager to get your hands on?
I am really looking forward to The Rift, by NZ author Rachael Craw – that looks right up my alley – and also Found by Fleur Ferris and anything new from Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (I know they have a new series in the works! Excitements!) Also – this is not OzYA, but I can’t help it – OMG, I cannot wait for Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, I’ve been hanging out for that book for more than a year!
Besides your own appearance at the Clunes Booktown Festival, what are you most looking forward to?
Cracking my next book! I am right at the point of writing where it is all very clear in my head, but taking a long time to get right on paper. Each day I get closer, but I am looking forward to the stage of being really pleased with the way its turned out. I’m hoping that stage will come soon…in fact, I’m hoping that stage will just come…it will come, right?
What’s the most unusual or strange place you’ve ever read or written at?
Ooooh. I think I have read just about everywhere that is possible to read. Inside a flood drain when I was a kid is probably the strangest. Actually, that’s probably the strangest place I have written at as well. (The writing was when I was an adult. It seemed a lot scarier as an adult…I didn’t stay long…). I do carry a notebook with me though, and writing ideas pop up at the most inconvenient times. The other contender for unusual writing places would be at this magnificent subterranean cave in Ireland. We were on a tour so I couldn’t get much down on paper, but I knew I had to write something while I was down there to capture the mood. I wish I could tell you what I wrote, but I of course lost the scrap of paper. It may just have been the best few sentences I have ever produced…
Who are some of your favourite badass female characters in YA?
My favourite has to be Tiffany Aching from Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men. Any kid that takes on an evil queen in an unknown land armed only with a frying pan is pretty awesome. And I know Pippi Longstocking isn’t strictly YA, but people of ALL ages should definitely read her, because she has to be the original badass female, right?
If a bookish villain were to escape their pages and take over our world, which villain do you think is most likely to do so?
A bookish villain, hey? I am thinking lots of political comebacks here, but I will stick with the question…I’ll say the witches from, well, The Witches, by Roald Dahl, because, to be honest, I think perhaps they may already have begun to take over.
What’s one #LoveOzYA novel you think everyone should read?
This one is SO hard…Okay. I’m going to say Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. This is such a brilliant book – a wonderful story, great plot, amazing writing, but more than all of that, the craft used to lead the reader down the garden path so they think they really know a character, and then to show you what that character is really like – it’s just awesome.