This is Lili's OLD WEBSITE! Go to for the shiny, better, more up-to-date, awesome version.

31 July 2009

My YA Novel

1 - Go to "Fake Name Generator" or click

The name that appears is your author name.

2 - Go to "Random Word Generator" or click

The word listed under "Random Verb" is your title.

3 - Go to "FlickrCC" or click

Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 - Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

5 - Post it to your site along with this text.

By the way, I'm going to the UK tonight. If you happen to be at the Edinburgh Festival, come and say hi!

22 July 2009

Mark Day in The Australian wrote an article that said this:

TEENAGERS are not like us. They grunt rather than converse, slouch rather than walk, sleep till noon and their preferred dress is grunge—any black T-shirt featuring gross green slime dripping from a skull will do. They don’t read, don’t pay for music, don’t listen to adults and don’t care about Twitter.

Below is my response.

Hi Mark,

I run a website for teenagers about books and reading at the State Library of Victoria, and I wanted to bring a couple of things to your attention after reading your article in the Australian on Monday.

You're wrong when you say young people don't read. Really wrong. In Australia last year, six of the top ten bestsellers in ALL genres were young adult fiction titles. In the US, Borders is ditching their music/DVD sections and replacing them with sprawling teen sections to capitalise on the enormous boom in young adult fiction. Last year, booksales as a whole dropped 4.7%, but YA sales were up 13%. Our website gets thousands of visitors a day, young people desperate to talk about their favourite books. Young people respond creatively to the books they read, with fan fiction, art and music. They love literature so much that they want to spend more time with the characters they love.

The "fragmented, flipperty-gibbet" teens you disparage so flippantly are the most active generation in terms of volunteering, working for charity organisations, and engaging in issues like climate change and human rights. They are socially aware and active. Last year in the US thousands of teens and YA authors banded together in an online community called YA for Obama. The young people were frustrated that they couldn't vote in the US election, and were eager to find other ways that they could make a difference and affect social change. I attended an online chatroom in YA for Obama during one of the Presidential Debates, and found the room full of not just Americans, but British kids up past their bed time and Australians in the computer room at school on their lunch break. And let me tell you, these teenagers had a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of the US political system than, I suspect, the vast majority of American voting adults. They knew about and cared about the issues. They had opinions, and were desperate to make a difference.

And sure, there's plenty of them who don't read newspapers. But for every teen you find me who doesn't read a newspaper, I'll find you fifty adults who don't either.

However, if you did want teenagers to start reading your newspaper, I'll offer you three suggestions.

1. Stop filling your pages with poorly-researched offensive comments about them.
2. Include content that is relevant to a teenage audience. Hey, you could even publish some content written by teenagers (The Guardian does this regularly with enormous success).
3. Start the newspaper reading habit early. Have a children's section of the paper. A REAL children's section, not a token half page with a Wordsearch puzzle. Address news stories that are relevant to kids and write them in a language they'll understand. You can find examples of this in Canada and the UK.

It's a shame that our society - and in particular our media - seem to be so obsessed with dragging new generations down. It would be awesome to see a little more encouragement of young people, and a little less small-minded snippery.


Lili Wilkinson.

16 July 2009

First Lines

This is a meme that's been doing the rounds. First lines from published works and WIPs.

Published books
The turnkey pushed Hannah into the cell, and clanged the door shut behind her.

Joan of Arc
Today they burn the witch.

The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend
Sometimes I wish I could just grow down and go back to primary school.

Forthcoming books
'You're leaving?' Chloe dropped my hand.

Angel Fish
A boy has come to Machery. I think he might be an angel.

Work in progress
(as yet untitled)
On entering the Melbourne Natural History Museum's department of Preparation on the morning of January 18, at approximately 9:25, Beatrice May Ross noticed six unusual things, all of which turned out to be of utmost significance.

14 July 2009

Some excerpts from the Productivity Commission's report on the Parallel Importation of Books

The Government should repeal Australia’s Parallel Import Restrictions (PIRs)
for books. The repeal should take effect three years after the date that it is

The Government should, as soon as possible, review the current subsidies aimed
at encouraging Australian writing and publishing, with a view to better targeting
of cultural externalities. Any revised arrangements should be put in place before
the repeal of the PIRs takes effect.
What's a cultural externality, I hear you ask? Well. Let's see.
The consumption of culturally valuable books, and the ideas they contain, can help diffuse social norms. Where more people come to understand the unwritten rules of a society, their actions become more predictable or ‘trustable’ to others, facilitating social and economic exchanges... More generally, the reading of books of cultural value may help individuals to feel more connected to, and to be more productive within, particular social groups or the wider society, to the benefit of all.

...the ideas embodied in some books have had far reaching impacts. Most obviously, the core ideas that were embodied in books such as The New Testament, The Wealth of Nations, Mein Kampf and The Female Eunuch have had major impacts on how societies operate.

...another way that Australian books could generate external benefits is if they make Australia a more ‘marketable’ identity to the eyes of foreigners.
So basically, the only books that should be supported in Australia are a) "culturally valuable" books that make us better people (in a creepy Orwellian-sounding way) and b) books that Americans will want to read.

Here's a couple of other choice excerpts:
It should be noted that while books are an important source of such educational benefits, they can also arise, for example, from (educational) television programming and, increasingly, from the internet.
In the Commission’s view, linking the amount of support to sales will generally be desirable.
To summarise: FAIL.

(you can read the full report here)

07 July 2009

Sex and Harry Potter

A journalist from Enterntainment Weekly is lamenting the "sexing up" of the Harry Potter movies:
This is a book about wizards. If you want romance, look for a paperback with Fabio on the cover.
Offensive, much? I don't think she has ever read a fantasy book before. Or met a teenager. The idea that teenagers aren't interested in sex and romance is laughable, and the idea that Fabioish bodice-rippers are the only types of literature to address the idea of love, sex and romance is just plain ridiculous. I defy you to find me a fantasy novel that doesn't have a romantic element. Or a "literary" novel.

I mean, yeah. The films are certainly implying a level of... sexiness... that the books maybe didn't. As Meg Cabot pointed out the other day, it's hard to miss the subtext in these two promotional photos:

Ron and his BROOM:
Harry and his wand:
But still, it's not like it isn't there in the books. Harry and his friends are teenagers! Of course they're thinking about touching each other!*

Anyway, Alyssa Rosenburg has some further comments on the matter of sex in Harry Potter which I mostly agree with:
Hogwarts doesn't appear to offer a sex ed class, which I guess makes sense because no one appears to be having sex. It's a really weird false note in a series full of deeply recognized characters.
Basically, she's right. Rowling is clearly very uncomfortable with writing about teenagers and sex (remember the roaring lion in Harry's chest?). Hopefully the films will be able to portray this stuff a little more satisfactorily, if not realistically (because really, we never read Harry Potter for its realism). And if not, there's always fanfic...

*As an aside, I now have an argument for all you people who said that the reason why Dumbledore being gay was never mentioned because everyone is just so okay with homosexuality in the wizarding world that it didn't rate a mention. Remember when Umbridge is making lots of rules for Hogwarts students and says that they are not allowed to be within 8 inches of a member of the opposite sex? Think about it.