#LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge TBR

Our month of #LoveOzYA goodness is almost upon us! In just two days, the Bingo Challenge will commence and the first of our posts and videos will be uploaded both here and to our YouTube channel! We have so many exciting things to share with y’all, so make sure you’re following all of our social media so you don’t miss anything!

YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

In case you’re unsure about how the #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge is going to work, check out this post.

If you’re in Melbourne, don’t forget to come along to our #LoveOzYA picnic next month too! Free tickets are available here.

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#LoveOzYA Anthology | Danielle Binks

Hi friends! Today we have a very exciting interview to share with you, which will actually be the first in a series of interviews! As you know, the #LoveOzYA Anthology was voted as our June Book of the Month, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. This month is a celebration of all things #LoveOzYA, and between recommending our favourite Aussie YA novels on our various social media channels all month and being joined by real live authors at our upcoming Book Meet, we thought it would be great to get to know some of the amazingly talented authors who contributed to the #LoveOzYA Anthology! First up, we have the lovely Danielle Binks – who wrote a short story and edited the anthology. How cool is that?!

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June Book Meet

Wow, last month just flew by! Complete with book launches, successful Twitter chats and another fantastic Book Meet, it only felt like the blink of an eye before we were waking up on June 1st. But this month holds more exciting things, because our Book of the Month is the #LoveOzYA Anthology!

Comprised of short stories from phenomenal Aussie authors, this anthology is a must-read for everyone who appreciates and adores Aussie YA. We’re lucky enough to have a few authors joining us at our next Book Meet, so if there’s one Book Meet you attend all year, make it this one! You won’t want to miss it.

LoveOzYA AnthologyThis month’s Book Meet will be held at the Wheeler Centre, so it’s vital to book your tickets. There’ll also be snacks and goodie bags! Grab your ticket here.

Until then!

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Author Q&A

Hello again, friends! Today we’re bring you something really special – an interview with author Harriet Springbett! If you haven’t seen our last post yet, check it out to learn a bit more about Harriet’s novel – Tree Magic – and to hear more about the ideas behind it!

We were interested in learning a bit more about Harriet’s writing style and her tips for aspiring writers, so she was kind enough to give us a bit of an insight into her writing world! Enjoy!

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What does your usual writing routine look like? Do you prefer a particular place to write in? What time of the day do you get the most writing done?

I started to take writing seriously in 2005 and an integral part of that decision was to allocate myself a specific writing time and then stick to it. I’m definitely a morning writer – this is when I have the most ideas and energy – so I write every weekday morning. Having a routine makes it easier to treat writing as a job. I think about my story and take notes at other points during the day (and night) too, but this is bonus time. My regular evening runs even count as work time, as this when I play through new scenes in my head. It’s often the best time to solve my characters’ conflicts.

Sunlight is very important to me, and I tend to follow the sun around the house, sitting to write where I can see outside – or sitting outside whenever possible. This means there are tables every room. My current favourite place to write is in my tiny dressing room, squeezed between hangers of clothes, just because it has a huge window, the morning sun and a view over lots of spring flowers.

What was the most difficult part about writing Tree Magic, and would you do anything differently when writing your next novel?

Finding a title was difficult, but my longest challenge came from settling on the best approach to creating the novel. I’m totally fascinated by the creative process in general, and I love discovering parallels between writing and other arts. My first (bottom drawer) novel was tightly plotted and didn’t leave enough room for creativity. So I decided to let Tree Magic (my second novel) grow organically. This was more fun, but it required massive editing. My latest novel, Red Lies, White Lies, is a combination of the two methods, and I feel much happier about this. I’ve used the same approach for my current novel: I’ve plotted the main motivations and conflicts but have left room for the characters to do what they must within this framework.

The most complicated technical aspect when writing Tree Magic was probably finding the right voice for Rainbow’s age as her story progresses: she’s 13 at the beginning and 18 at the end, and teenagers change a lot between those two ages. My own kids were very young at the time and I had their voices around me all day, so this didn’t help. They’re teenagers now, so I feel very in tune with the YA books I’m reading and writing at the moment.

If there was one thing you could change about the publishing industry, what would it be?

That’s an interesting question, as the poor publishers have already had to cope with huge changes over the last 10 years. As an idealist, I guess I would replace the big publishing houses with a multitude of small publishers, all with equal resources. That would make the whole sector fairer – but it sounds rather Animal Farm-ish, doesn’t it?

Do you prefer the writing or the editing stage?

I love thinking up ideas and pulling them together to make a story in my head, and I love editing. The actual writing is the hard part for me. It’s where you have to take risks. I’m a very slow writer because it takes time to get into my fictional world and make the decisions for my characters using the right words. Although this part can be laborious, scary and fill me with self-doubt, it is also the most exciting part. It’s when the magic happens. It’s when the characters pick up the scent of the story and run with it.

To help myself through this long part, I often stop writing in the middle of a scene. This makes it easier to pick up the next day. I start every session by reading back to the beginning of the scene and editing a little, to get back into the swing of it, and then I continue writing. It’s a big mistake to finish at the end of a scene, so I start a new one, even if I know I’ll change it all the next day. As a Jodi Picoult once said: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

I’ve learnt so much over the past 12 years that it’s difficult to find just one piece of advice. I guess I would tell them to write short stories before attacking a novel. The turnaround time is faster, so you can learn from your mistakes more quickly and have fun experimenting until you’re clear about how and what you write. Only then, once your training has warmed you up, should you embark on the marathon of a novel.

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Thanks to Harriet Springbett for answering our questions and giving us an insight into her writing methods! These tips have been really useful, and we’ll definitely be using them in our own writing endeavours. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Tree Magic!

Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett

51WAlm0W2vLRainbow’s magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences.

From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Caraval Book Talk WRAP UP!

Yesterday we held our second ever Book Talk – crazy, right? How did that month go so quickly? In case you hadn’t already guessed from the title of this post – and if you weren’t able to make it on the day – we were discussing everything Caraval at our meet up! It was amazing to have so many people there, with familiar faces as well as a few new ones.

For this month’s Book Talk, we were lucky enough to be meeting at Dymocks in the city! It was a fantastic location, and it was so atmospheric to be surrounded by all the books. Not to mention, the cafe below us served excellent food and drink, and it was lovely to be able to order something and munch on it as we talked!

We began the Book Talk by introducing ourselves and what we were currently reading, which is always a fun way to get to know one another, and then gave a quick summary of how we each felt about Caraval if we’d read it. The majority of the who joined us had read Caraval, so it was easy to reference particular scenes and characters, but it was such a fun afternoon even for those who hadn’t had the chance to read it yet!

Soon we began talking about how we felt about specific characters and how we felt about some of the big twists and reveals, as well as discussing more general things such as the relationships between siblings, the overall aesthetic of the book and its layout, and arguing over which edition is the prettiest. Our favourite part was, by far, talking about our favourite lines in the novel. So many feels!

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We went around in a circle and discussed how people rated Caraval as whole, and there were mixed reviews, to say the least. The average rating would have to have been around the 3.5 star mark. Lack of character development and world building seemed to be a common criticism among the group. Could it have been all the hype? All our heightened expectations for what was said to be an amazing YA fantasy read?

A few members of the group really enjoyed the story and the way it developed, despite the slow start of the novel. It just goes to show how everyone’s taste in books varies! And that is OKAY!!!

After discussing the rating, we all gushed over the book covers, especially the US hardcover *insert heart eyes emojis* *insert drooling* Although, the UK paperback was the most popular cover of choice, and several ARC copies also floated among the group.

With the cover and rating out of the way, we moved on to our favourite characters and our least, and surprising, the least favourites definitely all of the main characters. Some of the group couldn’t even pick a favourite! “Picking a favourite means I have to have liked them to begin with” one member said, and sadly, many of the members seemed to agree.

As for Sarah and I, Dante and Julian were by far the most engaging and favourable characters.

We talked and talked over coffee and freshly squeezed juice before we had to eventually wrap up another amazingly successful bookclub meeting by introducing our BOTM for March, which is the one and on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which faces the very real and confronting topic of police brutality in the United States.

Starr is only sixteen years old when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Kahlil, by a police officer.

The Hate U Give, THUG for short, is an important and diverse story which demands to be heard. Not only is this book set in a contemporary setting, it faces real issues that many young adults may not be aware of, and we are so grateful to be reading this with you all in March.

Can’t wait to see you all at our next Book Talk!

The Month of CARAVAL

Hi friends! We hope you’ve had a great month so far. With Sarah off in Middle Earth for half the month and everyone starting school again for the year, getting back to work or sorting out their uni timetable, there hasn’t been much for us to organise this month! However, we’ve been looking forward to our Caraval Book Talk all month and we’re so thrilled that it’s now only a few days away!

Earlier in the week we held a Twitter chat that revolved around the themes and ideas behind our Book of the Month – Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It was lovely to have so many people joining in with the chat and it was so entertaining to read your answers. We could hardly keep up at times with the amount of enthusiasm you were all showing! We were joined by readers who loved the book, readers who hated it, and some who hadn’t even read it, but we all had a great time musing over what magical books are our favourites and what we thought of Caraval‘s unique layout.

If you haven’t already heard, this Sunday is our Caraval Book Talk! It will be held at Dymocks, 234 Collins Street, and will run from 2.30 – 4pm. There’ll be drinks and snacks available for purchase from the lovely Dymocks cafe and we’ll also be selling our March Book of the Month – The Hate U Give! If you’re going to be joining us on Sunday, you can find us upstairs in the cafe area surrounded by books and empty coffee cups.

We’ve also just announced our April Book of the Month, which is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! There are some really exciting things we’ve got planned for the next couple of months and we can’t wait to tell you more about them. In the meantime, we’ll see you all on Sunday!

Get your free ticket for our Caraval Book Talk here!

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Frequently Asked Questions

I haven’t read your Book of the Month! Can I still come to the Book Talk?

Of course! We totally understand that not everyone will have the time to read our Book of the Month. While we will be discussing our BOTM at our Book Talk, we’ll ensure that nothing major is spoiled for you. A lot of the questions will be based around general themes and ideas, so there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to add to the conversation anyway! We’d love to see you there.

I’ve never gone to a Book Talk before. Help!

That’s absolutely fine! We’re just starting off too, so we’re not 100% what we’re doing either! But trust us, we don’t bite. We’d love to have you at our Book Talk – it’s a lot of fun and you’re guaranteed to meet a whole lot of bookish people! It’s a very relaxed environment, so there’s nothing to be nervous about.

Does it cost anything to come to the Book Talk?

Nope, it’s free! We just ask that you get a ticket from our Eventbrite link so that we know how many people will be joining us so we can cater for the group. There’ll be drinks, snacks and books available for purchase from Dymocks, so you’re more than welcome to bring some money and grab something there, but there’s no obligation to do so! They do make pretty good hot chocolate though 😉

I booked a free ticket through your Eventbrite link but now I’m unable to attend. What should I do?

That’s fine! It would be great if you could let us know so we’re not waiting for you on the day. You can tweet at us @TheYARoom_Melb or send an email to theyaroom@gmail.com. We hope you’ll be able to join us next time!

I love your The YA Room shirts! Where can I get one?

Aww, thank you! These are custom made from an online site, but we’re planning on opening a little non-profit ordering shop. More information will be released soon!

WOW… What a month!

January, as it would be expected, has been a month of firsts. And not just in the calendar sense. It was the month we officially launched this amazing thing we’d been planning for months, and it was the month we realised just how exciting this adventure was going to be. We’d always hoped that The YA Room would be a success, for both us and you all, but we never expected to receive the abundance of love and support that we did – so thank you.

We started off the month searching for a venue for our very first Book Talk, which was equally frustrating and relentless, but all our efforts ended up paying off in the end! But even though we didn’t know if or when we would have a proper venue to host our monthly meet-ups at, we still organised not one, but two fun afternoons. Thank goodness the Melbourne weather was on our side.

The first of these meet-ups was our Inaugural Picnic at the Botanic Gardens, where we had twenty gorgeous people show up to support our first event. We sat on the grass and ate food, swapped books, and talked about the novels we loved! We couldn’t have wished for a more spectacular day, and it was the Inaugural Picnic that set the grounds for the rest of the month.

Not long after, we were lucky enough to attend the PTA Showcase in Melbourne, where we heard Shivaun Plozza, Fleur Ferris and Jodi McAlister speak about their new books, as well as hear about all the upcoming Penguin Teen releases! Not only did we get to hang out with all our favourite bookish people again, but there was cake and food and little goodie packages. It was incredible, and we’re already looking forward to the next one!

A few weeks later we had our very first Book Talk, where we were joined by Alison Evans to discuss their new YA novel, Ida. Again, we had such a great turnout and it was amazing to have Alison there too. We asked them some questions about their writing processes, the themes behind Ida, and did a bit of fangirling too.

Here are some of our favourite reviews of Ida, written by the people that are a part of our book club!

IDA BY ALISON EVANS (+ THE YA ROOM JAN BOOK TALK)

Lissa’s Reviews – Ida

I-Dan’t Have Many Complaints // Ida Review (Terrible Pun But Great Book)

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You should also totally check out Sarah’s review on her blog, Written Word Worlds. Spoiler: She adored reading Ida!

The same evening as our Book Talk, Caraval by Stephanie Garber was announced our February Book Of The Month, as voted by almost 250 people! We’re looking forward to reading this much-anticipated novel and discussing it at our next Book Talk. We’re also currently figuring out some exciting things that will make our next Book Talk even more phenomenal than the first!

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And then yesterday, as if our month couldn’t get any better, we got a very exciting email back from Dymocks! We’re thrilled to announce that our next Book Talk will be held on Sunday 26th February from 2.30 – 4pm at Dymocks 234 Collins Street, in the heart of Melbourne. We hope to see you all there!

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