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30 March 2010


1. Angel Fish is a CBCA Notable book for 2010! I'm so very happy about this. Pink and Angel Fish came out at the same time and everyone was very excited about Pink, and Angel Fish was like the quiet child who people often don't notice. So it's nice to be noticed. I'm also just really pleased with the Older Readers shortlist this year (despite not being on it) - it's a great mix of books, with some fresh new faces as well as some old favourites. And LOTS OF GIRL PROTAGONISTS!

2. There's a new SHORT anthology out! I didn't edit this one, but I DO have a story in it. The anthology is Short and Scary, and my story is called The Moth-er.

3. Angel Fish is going to be published soon in the UK, except it's going to be called Company of Angels. The UK cover is awesome, and I hope to be able to share it (and the US cover for PINK which I've just seen) very soon.

23 March 2010

Best YA titles

Adele from Persnickety Snark is compiling a list of the Top 100 YA Novels of All Time. I've just agonised over my own personal Top 10 to add to the list. It was HARD, and I'm sure I've forgotten some. But here they are:
  1. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
  3. Ready or Not by Meg Cabot
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  5. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  6. Mandragora by David McRobbie
  7. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  8. Skellig by David Almond
  9. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  10. Abyssinia by Ursula Dubosarsky
I actually started with a list of 20, and getting it down to 10 felt a bit like murder. So here're the runners-up, all of which I also adore:

Del Del by Victor Kelleher
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Forever by Judy Blume
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Space Demons by Gillian Rubenstein
Doing It by Melvin Burgess
48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

What are yours?

18 March 2010

Rant. Women. Writing. Chicklit.

So there's been a bit in the media lately about women writers and some other related bits and pieces. And I know this is a soapbox that I've jumped up and down on before, but I'm going to have to keep jumping for now.

First, there's an article in the Telegraph about the Orange Prize, a literary award for women writers:
Given that women have won five out of the last six Whitbread/Costas, does the level of injustice remain enough to justify the Orange?

Women are predominant, in terms of numbers and power, in most of the major publishing houses and agencies. They sell most of the books, into a market that largely comprises women readers. They are favoured by what is overwhelmingly the most important publishing prize (the Richard and Judy list), and comprise most of the reading groups that drive sales. Girls in schools are more literate than boys, and pupils are taught reading mainly by female teachers promoting mainly female writers.

Well. A few points, if I may.
  • Six out of the last 20 Booker Prize Winners have been women.
  • Two out of the last 20 Booker Prize Winners have had a female protagonist. That's 10%.
  • Publisher's Weekly's Best Books of 2010 list are all by men.
  • Our own Miles Franklin longlist features 3 women and 9 men.
  • There are more women working in publishing than men, more women write books and more women read books. This is all true. Yet capital-L-literary awards are undeniably skewed towards men.
  • There are more female teachers because teaching continues to be a low pay, low status job.
  • Despite this, the vast majority of class texts are by men, and feature male protagonists.
  • In VCE this year, there are 9 texts available by women, and 27 by men.
  • I know of a local private girls' school where, from Years 7-10, not one text is studied featuring a female protagonist. NOT. ONE.
What this is telling us, and the message we are sending to young people (both male and female) is this: despite the fact that the majority of people involved in the publishing industry are women, our society as a whole deems women's stories as unimportant (at least as far as capital-L-literature is concerned). Female authors only get recognised when they write about men. And I am not in ANY way blaming men for this. It's something we're all doing together. As a whole literary culture. Here's Lizzie Skurnick:

"I just want to say," I said as the meeting closed, "that we have sat here and consistently called books by women small and books by men large, by no quantifiable metric, and we are giving awards to books I think are actually kind of amateur and sloppy compared to others, and I think it's disgusting."
Our default is that women are small, men are universal.
Here's a (relatively mild) comment from that article about the Orange Prize:
I am a life long reader and have read thousands of books, however I have read probably less than 20 books written by women. Women write differently from men and I feel their efforts appeal mostly to other women.
Which brings me to our friend Nicholas Sparks. Nicholas is the author of The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John, among others. First, I have to admit that I've never read any of his books, nor seen any of the film adaptations. But I've seen the previews, and that was enough to know that it isn't really my thing. On the whole, I prefer my rom to also include com.

So Nicholas recently gave an interview*.
If you look for me, I'm in the fiction section. Romance has its own section... I don't write romance novels. Love stories — it's a very different genre. I would be rejected if I submitted any of my novels as romance novels...
There's a difference between drama and melodrama; evoking genuine emotion, or manipulating emotion. It's a very fine eye-of-the-needle to thread. And it's very rare that it works. That's why I tend to dominate this particular genre. There is this fine line. And I do not verge into melodrama. It's all drama...
I write in a genre that was not defined by me. The examples were not set out by me. They were set out 2,000 years ago by Aeschylus, Sophoclies and Euripides.
A romance novel is supposed to make you escape into a fantasy of romance. What is the purpose of what I do? These are love stories. They went from (Greek tragedies), to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, then Jane Austen did it, put a new human twist on it. Hemingway did it with A Farewell to Arms.
There are no authors in my genre. No one is doing what I do.
Apart from, hmm, I don't know. A WHOLE BUNCH OF WOMEN.


Thanks to Karen Healey, Meanjin and Bookslut for bringing all these articles to my attention.
*Did I mention that the interview was a joint one? With Miley Cyrus?

09 March 2010

Pink Highly Commended

I'm so very pleased to tell you all that PINK has been Highly Commended for the Barbara Jefferis Award.

Barbara Jefferis was the founding President of the Australian Society of Authors, and the Award is for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.

Last year Helen Garner won, so it's pretty nice company to be in.

You can view the shortlist and the other Highly Commended title here.

And here's what the judges said about PINK:
As a novel written for young adults, Pink deals in some refreshing and witty ways with the stock themes of confusion over sexuality, peer group pressure, and what not to wear. While Ava’s parents have no problems with her lesbianism or goth attire, she is not so sure. She dons a pink cashmere jumper and switches schools. But rather than just inverting a conventional coming-out plot to produce something more conservative, Pink complicates the simple trajectory of this kind of narrative. It depicts young women, gay and/or straight, positively, and offers a far from neat conclusion. Ava, having learnt several Emma-esque lessons about tolerance and judgment, still remains undecided.

05 March 2010

Poetry Friday... no, really!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I'm not an enormous poetry fan. I think it mostly comes from writing too much dreadful stuff as a teen. But I make some exceptions, and one of those is children's poetry. And I thought I'd share a poem by one of my favourite children's poets, E.V. Rieu, who is perhaps better known for his Penguin Classics translations of The Odyssey and the Bible.

The Hippopotamus's Birthday

He has opened all his parcels
but the largest and the last;
His hopes are at their highest
and his heart is beating fast.
O happy Hippopotamus,
what lovely gift is here?
He cuts the string. The world stands still.
A pair of boots appear!

O little Hippopotamus,
the sorrows of the small!
He dropped two tears to mingle
with the flowing Senegal;
And the 'Thank you' that he uttered
was the saddest ever heard
In the Senegambian jungle
from the mouth of beast or bird.

01 March 2010

Leaping from project to project

I have handed in the first draft of my mystery novel. *chews nails*

It turns out that writing a mystery novel is really hard. Especially as I've never been a big reader of detective or mystery fiction. I had this list of truly excellent clues that I planted at the beginning, and as I crawled to the finish line, I kept thinking I must figure out how those clues fit in. And then I got to the end and realised I hadn't, and had to go back and try and retrofit them. Or delete them.

Anyway, it is done now, and I have taken the weekend off before leaping back into the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo. I'm just reading it at the moment. I don't really remember much about it at all, because it was written so fast. There are some good bits, though. Sporadic, but present.