Win Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett

Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett was the winner of the 2011 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.  I loved it and gave 4 out of 5 stars (you can read my review here).  I also interviewed Myke here on the blog today too, which you can check out here.

Thanks to Text Publishing I have 2 copies of Fire in the Sea to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address below.  Competition closes Monday 6 August (NZ only).

Interview with Myke Bartlett, author of Fire in the Sea

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Myke Bartlett, winner of the 2011 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, and author of the fantastic Fire in the Sea (you can read my review here).  I asked Myke a few questions about Fire in the Sea, his characters and his writing experience.  Thanks Myke!

1.  What inspired you to write Fire in the Sea?

Being a teacher, really. There’s nothing better than seeing kids excited about books and I started feeling a bit envious about the attention other authors were getting. I was determined to write something exciting and challenging that students would enjoy. I think I also really liked the idea of YA fiction being gateway fiction. These were the stories that would, hopefully, get kids hooked on good quality books. If they were reading something good when they were young, then they might demand better when they were older.

2.  Had the story been bubbling in your head long before you submitted it for the Text Prize?

I think I had the basic idea about Jake in 2009. But I didn’t start writing it until 2010, as I was working on something else. The actual writing was incredibly quick and painless, probably about six months in total on the first draft. It was a near run thing to get it in on time to Text. I think I posted it off on the last possible day.

3.  How did it feel to win the Text Prize?

Unreal. In every sense of the word. I’d written the story specifically to win the Text Prize, so I suppose I felt as if I had achieved exactly what I’d set out to do. That was a great week. And then the editing process began… Which was also great, to be honest.

4.  Mythology plays an important part in Fire in the Sea.  Do you have a special interest in mythology and ancient cultures?

I’m probably much more interested in the real world, actually. But I was obsessed with that stuff as a kid. When I got older, I was more interested in ghosts and folk legends and things like that. Things that seemed like they might almost be real. That’s my favourite area of fiction — you know, through a glass darkly stuff. The sense that there might be a monster under the bed, or vampire bats in the fig tree. I think I drew on my memories of mythologies because they’re really where storytelling started. They were the first big blockbusters. Who wouldn’t want to borrow a bit of that genius?

5.  Who was your inspiration for the character of Sadie?

I don’t know if I should say. There’s a lot of me in there, really. All that standing at the edge of the world, gazing at the horizon stuff. That’s me. That was me growing up in Perth and dreaming of the world outside. There’s quite a lot of my youngest sister in there too. All the difficult, dogmatic bits! No, my sister is pretty awesome (not that I’d tell her), so I probably borrowed of Sadie’s better qualities.

6.  Why did you decide to set the story in Perth?

Because it felt like the sort of place where you’d never expect a story like that to be set! I wanted to tell a big, Hollywood-style story in a small place at the end of the world. Growing up in Perth, I would have loved to think that life could be exciting where I was, instead of thinking adventures only happened elsewhere.

7.  Which of the ancient ones are you most like? 

Ooh, tricky! Well, I’m quite fond of Agatha. When we make the TV/film version, I’d love my aunt Nicola Bartlett, who’s an extraordinary actress, to play her. I think I gave Jake some of the seriousness and the old-mannishness that I had at that age. I was in such a hurry to be old. I dressed like an old man. It’s only now that I am (relatively) old that I’ve started dressing like a teenager.

8.  Do you plan to return to Sadie, Jake and the ancient ones in the future?

I do. They will return! As of today, I’ve written about six chapters of the sequel. Writing is either sheer pleasure or sheer pain (it changes on a day-by-day basis) but it feels pretty exciting to me. There are new (old) monsters, old (new) friends and possibly a car chase. If you can do a car chase in print. Can you? I’m about to find out.

Winner of the 2012 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing

The winner of the 2012 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing was announced last night at a special ceremony in Melbourne.  Some of my favourite books have been published thanks to the wonderful people at Text Publishing, who award this prize.  This year’s winner sounds like a really interesting story and I can’t wait to read it next year.  Read on for more information about the prize from Text.

The winner of the 2012 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing is A.J. Betts, for her tender and funny young adult novel Zac and Mia.

Zac and Mia opens in an oncology ward in Perth, where 17-year-old Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant for leukaemia. He and Mia, the ‘newbie’ patient in the room next door, begin a friendship via Facebook, letters and messages passed through one of the nurses—but out of hospital things are a lot more complicated. Written with great humour, Zac and Mia is a realistic novel about being a young person in extraordinary circumstances.

An English teacher and university lecturer from Perth, A.J. Betts has won $10,000 and a publishing contract with Text Publishing. Betts is also the author of two young adult novels, Shutter Speed (2008) and Wavelength (2010). Wavelengh was shortlisted for the West Australian Premier’s Prize in 2011.

On hearing the news, Betts commented, ‘I’m thrilled. Writing a novel is a long, all-consuming task, often plagued with self-doubt. To come out the other side and receive such validating news is more than a writer could hope for. I’m honoured and humbled by the judges’ decision, and very excited about the future of Zac and Mia.’

Michael Heyward, Publisher at Text, remarked, ‘The Text Prize is now five years old. We’ve published some wonderful books in that time: The Billionaire’s Curse by Richard Newsome, This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall, The Bridge by Jane Higgins and Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett. Now we have a wonderful fifth novel to publish: Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts, a deeply moving book about the relationship that grows between two kids with cancer. We can’t wait to usher this marvellous book into the world.’

Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts will be published in August 2013.

The Text Prize is awarded annually to the best manuscript written by an Australian or New Zealander for young adults or children. Entries for the 2013 prize open in March 2013. Watch out for the 2011 Text Prize winner, Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett, in August 2012.