Pride Picnic / Our Favourite Queer Novels

Yesterday, we hosted our very first Pride Picnic! But no, this wasn’t our first ever picnic – we’re strong believers in catching up for any occasion at all to eat cake. Cake truly is the best invention in the entire world.

But as June is Pride Month, we thought we’d take our rainbow flags out of the closet, bake some cupcakes and cookies, and gather a bunch of awesome Melbourne YA readers to chat all about our favourite queer YA novels.

It was such a lovely afternoon at Fed Square. Our highlights definitely included hearing all about some upcoming queer novels we can’t wait to get our hands on, what everyone’s favourite queer books are (#sorrynotsorry TBR), and trying everyone’s incredible rainbow food.

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Pride Picnic

We’re hosting a Pride Picnic in celebration of Pride Month! Come along for an afternoon of feasting on rainbow-coloured food (and Oreos, duh) and talking about all your favourite queer YA novels.

We’ll be meeting at the top of Fed Square (near ACMI), and if it’s raining or cold, we’ll be moving inside The Atrium. Please bring a rug and something yum to share! Bonus points if it’s cake. Everyone loves cake.

We hope to see you there!

Grab a ticket here!

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May Book Meet

Today we hosted our May Book Meet, where we were joined by a bunch of passionate Melbourne YA readers to discuss our Book of the Month, I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman. As usual, we had a lovely afternoon that involved drinking coffee, talking about fandoms, and swooning over the gorgeous characters in this novel.

We’re already looking forward to our next Book Meet, where we’ll be discussing A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews. It’s going to be great! Free tickets will be released soon, so make sure you keep an eye out on our social media platforms.

Whether you’ve been to a ton of our Book Meets before or you’re interested in coming along for the first time, we’d love to see you there!


A Thousand Perfect Notes

36389267An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it? 


Order your copy of A Thousand Perfect Notes from Dymocks, Booktopia, or Book Depository.

And for everyone who’s not in Melbourne, we also host a monthly Twitter chat the Monday before our official Book Meet. #YARoomChat is an hour-long conversation about our current Book of the Month – and there are no spoilers, so don’t worry if you haven’t finished the book yet!Read More »

May Day Mine | Verity Croker

Today we have a piece by Verity about her #LoveOzYA novel, May Day Mine! Although we haven’t read this one yet, we’re eager to pick it up soon – maybe even for one of the squares on our Bingo Challenge!

Thank you, Verity!

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Even though May Day Mine is published by Harmony Ink Press in the US, it is a #LoveOzYA title as the author, me, is Australian, and the book is set in Australia, based on the Beaconsfield mine disaster. I was inspired by the event to create a fictional account, with a fictional family, as I was trying to imagine what it would have been like to live in that small town at that time. I started writing it ages ago, and spent a lot of time on it during my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course at the University of Tasmania. The other students in the class and the tutor gave me lots of helpful input to try to bring my fictional family to life. I didn’t want it to be a realistic version of exactly what happened, as I felt a responsibility to the real families who were involved and I didn’t want to upset them. So I changed the number of men who died in the rock fall, and changed the number of men trapped, so no one character would represent a real person.Read More »

Q&A with Emily Gale

As a part of our series of #LoveOzYA interviews for #LoveOzYA Month, today we have a lovely Q&A with Emily Gale to share with you! We adored her most recent release, The Other Side of Summer, and we can’t wait to get our hands on what she publishes next! We hope you enjoy this interview!

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The Other Side Of Summer is such a gorgeous read. How did you go about publishing it? Did you face any difficulties?

It wasn’t written to contract but I was hoping that Penguin Random House, who published my first Australian novel, Steal My Sunshine, would be interested. That said, I was gobsmacked by their enthusiasm for it. The Other Side of Summer is the most personal book I’ve written so everything that’s happened with it, good and bad, has affected me deeply. The support from my publisher has been wonderful, from superb editorial work to a commitment to publish its sister-book, which is coming next year. Previously I’ve had to be very persistent and take a lot of rejection to get a novel published, but this book was my lucky star.Read More »

Q&A with Cally Black

As a part of our #LoveOzYA Month, we have the spectacular Cally Black here to talk all about the books she’s looking forward to reading, why she loves the #LoveOzYA community, and what sci-fi books she recommends! In the Dark Spaces was one of our favourite #LoveOzYA sci-fi books of the year, so we’re super excited to have Cally answer a few of our questions!

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What do you love most about the #LoveOzYA community?

I love that the #LoveOzYA community is so inclusive. I just dabbled a little toe in the water by going to Reading Matters and Vicki Wakefield said, ‘Come meet everyone.’ And just like that… I’m part of this group of people who love Aus YA. And I love that we’e all totally obsessed with books.

We couldn’t agree more! Everyone in the #LoveOzYA community is so welcoming and supportive.

Speaking of lovely authors such as Vikki Wakefield, if you could write a book with any other Aussie author, who would you choose and in which genre would you like to write?

Oh no! What a question. I’d like to spy on Margo Lanagan writing, but I think I’d get in her way, so perhaps Amie Kaufman? She has so much knowledge about YA fiction and what works and how to make writing a priority and get it done professionally. She’s a powerhouse of knowledge, that woman, and so lovely and generous.Read More »

Q&A with Mark Smith

Today we have another excellent #LoveOzYA interview with an author we love – Mark Smith! Read all about his recent YA release, how he writes, and what some of his favourite #LoveOzYA novels are. We hope you enjoy!

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We loved you novel, The Road To Winter, and it’s sequel. Why did you decide to focus your novel on such a serious topic?

I didn’t really set out to write a serious book. First and foremost I wanted to tell a gripping story because, as a reader, that’s what I look for in fiction. The development of the characters in the dystopian setting I create allows me to explore some deeper issues around violence, the treatment of asylum seekers and climate change. Being an educator, I know one of the best ways of engaging young people in an issue is to personalise it – create characters they feel a deep empathy for, then look at the way they deal with conflict, cruelty and a changed world. Younger readers will relate to them by putting themselves in the characters’ shoes and thinking about how they would deal with such a situation.

What type of research did you have to undertake to ensure that your novels were received well?

I work principally with fifteen year old boys, many of them reluctant readers. So I began by surveying them about their reading habits and putting together a list of what they look for in a novel. Not surprisingly, they wanted suspense, humour, a twist (or three), unpredictability, mystery, a deeper story, thrills, action, a strong climax and not too much description. I added strong female characters, a sixteen year old protagonist and a blooming romance – and I had the framing for the Winter series.Read More »

Q&A with Sarah Epstein

Sarah Epstein’s Small Spaces is one of the #LoveOzYA debuts coming out next year that we can’t wait to get our hands on, so we couldn’t resist asking her a few questions for our #LoveOzYA Month to learn more about it! This is an interview you don’t want to miss – and you’ll be adding a ton of awesome #LoveOzYA novels to your TBR as well!

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We’re so excited that your debut YA novel, Small Spaces, is being released next year! What was your path to publication like?

Thank you! I’m so excited too! I’d like to say my path to publication was relatively straightforward, but the truth is it took several years of submitting three different manuscripts to agents and editors before Small Spaces found a home. I started writing YA around a decade ago and it took me a few years to finish my first manuscript because I was bringing up babies and running a small business at the same time. I ended up shelving that manuscript after its first round of submissions because I realised it had a couple of major plot issues. But my second manuscript snagged me a US agent and was shopped around to US publishers for the best part of a year, resulting in a disappointingly close call at acquisitions and loads of rejections. I’d started writing Small Spaces by that stage, but ended up parting ways with my agent. It was a really challenging time because I felt like I’d tumbled to the bottom of the heap again, and I really had to pick myself up and keep going. Nicola, my editor from Walker Books, stumbled across my website after I’d just started querying Small Spaces, and after reading a short synopsis on my site, she requested my manuscript the same day. From there it took another nine months of back and forth with Walker, including another revision of the manuscript, before I was offered a contract.Read More »