Tag Archives: young adult authors

Reading Matters 2013 – Highlights #4

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You can’t say that! – Parental guidance recommended with Libba Bray, Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams

This session was a great way to end the first day of Reading Matters as it was absolutely hilarious!  I haven’t read any of Libba Bray’s books but I will have to remedy this immediately.  I’m a huge fan of Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams so I was really looking forward to hearing all about their books.  Each of the authors were asked if they had been asked to cut something out of a book or not write about a subject.  Libba said that she had never been told not to do something in a book, but she had been asked to ‘cut the talking penis scene in Going Bovine.’  Gabrielle’s latest book, The Reluctant Hallelujah (an amazing book about finding Jesus in the basement) hit some roadblocks in the publication process.  Her publisher was reluctant to publish it in Australia and her US publisher suggested changing the body of Jesus to the body of Elvis. Gabrielle writes comedy because she likes it, and this is one of the things I like most about her books.  She doesn’t approach issues in her books, instead she likes to make her characters three-dimensional so that the issues come to the characters.

Vikki Wakefield goes full-on with her stories and keeps going until it makes her laugh or cry. Someone needs to tell her when she’s gone too far.  She set out to be subversive with her first novel, but it wasn’t.  She pushed further emotionally with Friday Brown (and if you’ve read Friday Brown I think Vikki hit the nail on the head!).  Vikki suggested that there is a fear in white writers of writing indigenous characters, which means they’re disappearing. She believes that writers need to be taking more of a risk when it comes to this.

The next books they’re working on are:

  • Libba Bray – sequel to The Diviners
  • Vikki Wakefield – a love story from a duel point of view
  • Gabrielle Williams – a story set in 1986 with four characters, two aged 17 and two aged 23.
Me and Vikki Wakefield (author of Friday Brown)

Me and Vikki Wakefield (author of Friday Brown)

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Reading Matters 2013 – Highlights #2

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Is there an app for that? – Paul Callaghan, John Flanagan and Fiona Wood talk stories and communities in a brave new world

This was a really interesting session that looked at the extensions to the book world, including apps, websites and social media.  John Flanagan is the author of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series and there is a huge fan base for his books.  As well as numerous websites and apps there are events held all over the world that offer fans real life experiences of the world of the books.  Fiona Wood talked about expectation and desire for writers to be accessible, both from their publishers and from readers.  She says that having this presence online will attract interest from readers too.  There are challenges with setting up an online presence with blogs and social media, because you have to construct a persona that is who you are, while also respecting the privacy of family and friends.

John and Hank Green’s Nerdfighters was held up as a shining example of how well this online presence can work.  They have millions of fans and followers from all over the world. Fiona agreed that the Nerdfighters do alot of good, but she want ‘to see a movie where the Green brothers turn evil’ (I would definitely love to see that). While these authors could only dream of the Green brothers’ massive success, they all agreed that audiences want a sense of connection to another person, no matter what the format.

The most interesting question of this session was ‘Are apps the death of the imagination?’ John suggested that there are a raft of games with instant gratification.  You get a medal of some sort each time you finish the level so you’re not striving for anything.  John was very pleased that, through his books, he managed to get a kid ‘off his bum and away from a computer.’  He got an email from a reader who got so into the Ranger’s Apprentice books that he was always out in the woods behind his house with a crossbow, instead of sitting in his room playing computer games.  However, John fears the inevitable Ranger’s Apprentice movie.  He loves that every reader sees the world of his books differently inside their head and a movie could change this.  Paul Callaghan believes that games can expand imagination in completely new ways.

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Reading Matters 2013 – Highlights #1

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Action! – Gayle Forman, Tim Sinclair and Raina Telgemeier discuss the highs and lows of teen life

The first question for the authors was why do they depict the teen experience? What is it about YA that appeals to them? I guess I’ve always just thought that it was the story they wanted to write (and this is apart of it), but they gave some great reasons.  Tim said he thought grownups were boring because they slowly angst about things that they can’t change.  Raina remembers every detail about her teenage years so it’s easy to write about it.  Alot of these details of her teenage life makes it into her books.  Gayle writes ‘about young people, but not young stories’ and she said that writing for teens was a way to relive her teenage years.  Characters between the ages of 17 and 22 often invade her brain so she has to write about them.

Each of the authors felt that they had different responsibilities as a writer of books for teens.  Gayle said that it’s important to ‘tell an emotionally authentic story.’  Raina believes that it’s important to write books for teens who don’t enjoy reading.  It’s her responsibility to hook those teenagers who haven’t ‘found’ books yet.  It was at this point that Gayle talked about the importance of librarians and came out with one of my favourite lines of the conference, ‘Librarians are crack dealers.’ It’s our job to get teenagers addicted to books and coming back to the library to get their next fix.

There was also some discussion about labels. Raina hates the way that people dismiss her books as children’s or YA, or when they say it’s ‘just a comic.’ Tim hates the ‘poet’ label.  He wouldn’t want his books (which are verse novels) put in the poetry section of a bookshop because ‘that’s where books go to die.’ When they were asked if YA is a genre or a readership, Tim quickly replied that YA is ‘just awesome!’

The next books they’re working on are:

  • Gayle Forman – a novel called ‘A Code Unknown’: a suicide/mystery/love-story.
  • Tim Sinclair – a ‘novel-novel’ and that’s all he’ll say.
  • Raina Telgemeier – a companion novel to ‘Smile’, called ‘Sisters’ coming 2014

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The post in which I gush over Reading Matters 2013

It’s 2 days after the end of Reading Matters 2013 and I still can’t stop thinking about it.  It was unbelievably awesome and  the best conference I’ve been to by far.  I’ve never had so much fun at a conference or come away so excited and motivated.  The Centre for Youth Literature team put together a great programme, with a lineup of some of the best young adult authors from Australia and overseas.  You could tell how much time, effort and passion that the team put into making the conference so engaging, thought provoking, and entertaining.  I already thought they were pretty damn awesome beforehand but I’ll be singing their praises to anyone who wants to listen.

At every other book conference I’ve been to I’ve bunked a couple of the sessions, but the Reading Matters sessions were so good that I didn’t want to miss a minute of them.  The authors, volunteers and the Centre for Youth Literature team kept the energy up the whole time and I was constantly buzzing with excitement. They all must have been pretty worn out by the last session, but it never showed.  They were all incredibly interesting sessions and we all learnt a lot more about the authors than we had bargained for.  I had no idea that some of them had such dirty mouths, but they had us almost falling off our seats with laughter.

I love Australian young adult literature and some of my favourite authors were there, including Vikki Wakefield (All I Ever Wanted, Friday Brown), Gabrielle Williams (Beatle Meets Destiny, The Reluctant Hallelujah), Morris Gleitzman (the Once quartet), and Myke Bartlett (Fire in the Sea).  I also enjoyed meeting and listening to the international authors, especially Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama), Keith Gray (Ostrich Boys) and Libba Bray (Beauty Queens, The Diviners).  I have to admit I hadn’t read anything by the international authors prior to the conference but I certainly will be now.  They were all really wonderful people who wrote some lovely dedications in my books.  I’ll be writing some more posts throughout the week about some of the sessions.

I also got the chance to meet some of my awesome fellow bloggers/Tweeters in person.  I was so glad I got to meet Danielle (alphareader.blogspot.co.nz and @danielle_binks ) and Jess (www.thetalescompendium.com and @TalesCompendium )  whose blogs and Tweets I follow, and I could have chatted to them for ages.  Danielle is a super speedy Tweeter so she kept up with everything the authors were saying.  I, on the other hand, was very slow and decided to just retweet Danielle’s.  Between all of the Tweeters there and those who couldn’t be, we even managed to get the official hashtag, #yamatters, trending WORLDWIDE!

To all the authors and the organisers, especially Adele, Nicole, Anna and Jordi from the Centre for Youth Literature, thanks for making Reading Matters an event that I’ll never forget.  The next Reading Matters conference is in Melbourne in 2015 so make sure you get there (I know I’ll be there come hell or high water!).

If you want to catch up on all the #yamatters tweets, check out the hashtag on Twitter.

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YA Authors Assemble – Reading Matters is nearly here!

I am buzzing with excitement because in a few days some of the best YA authors around will gather in Melbourne for Reading Matters and I will be there.  I’ve wanted to go to Reading Matters for years and registered as soon as I possibly could (without even knowing which authors would be there).  In the past they’ve had some incredibly cool authors, including John Green, so I knew they would have some amazing authors this year.  When the author lineup was announced I was actually jumping up and down with excitement!

I will get the chance to meet some of my favourite Australian YA authors and some great international authors too.  My suitcase will be packed with books to get signed and I’m sure to come back with a few others.  Some of the authors I’m most looking forward to meeting are Morris Gleitzman, Vikki Wakefield, Gabrielle Williams, Myke Bartlett and Keith Gray.

These are just a couple of the sessions that sound totally awesome:

  • Everyone’s a critic – Myke Bartlett, Alison Croggon and Morris Gleitzman on setting their stories free.
  • You can’t say that! – Parental guidance recommended with Libba Bray, Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams.
  • Gatekeepers – the good, the bad and my mother – Keith Gray

I’ll take lots of photos, try to Tweet as much as possible and will blog about my favourite sessions when I get home.

Melbourne here I come!

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