CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers – THE PROTECTED

CBCA#1Yep, this is a thing that happened. I still haven’t seen the Book of the Year sticker on the actual cover of the book, maybe it will feel more real when I do! In the meantime here’s my acceptance speech….

I often say that I write for my seventeen year-old-self, right now my seventeen year-old-self is standing here saying ‘What the frig? How did this happen?’ I’m the kid who had a panic attack in the middle of her first HSC English exam and left. I’m not here because of the wonders of our education system, I am a glitch in the system. I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of high schools recently and I’m not sure all that much has changed. When it comes to education we are very concerned with rankings and bell curves.  It’s worth noting that I was discouraged from taking on what was then called three unit Related English because my ranking wasn’t high enough. We want our kids to perform. We teach them to play Tchaikovsky by rote, but disable their ability to write their own music. I had teachers who fought against the obsession with marks and rankings and focused on nurturing my creativity, but I think that is like trying to light a candle in a cyclone, if you will allow me to get a bit Elton John.

I must thank my darling dad who told me over and over again that creativity was immeasurably valuable and must be held on to. I must thank my mum who gave the me stubbornness and determination required to pursue an artistic path.

Creative minds are vulnerable and mine has caused it’s fair share of problems, I would not have survived, much less written any books without the love and support of my husband, Nathan. Of course my thanks also go to my Publisher Kristina Schultz at UQP and my editor and coconspirator Kristy Bushnell.

I will finish by saying that this wonderful award does not qualify me to go into schools and give students the formula for a good piece of writing. I have no interest in improving their rankings. It does qualify me to visit high schools, look those kids in the eye — the off-beat ones, the weird ones, the ones who haven’t done that Biology assignment but have written 67,000 words, sometimes on their phones — and tell them that they will be okay.   To the Children’s Book Council: thank you for this award, I can not tell you how much this means to me, especially seventeen year old me.

Cutting the giant cake - a job I am well qualified for.

Cutting the giant cake – a job I am well qualified for.

Book Trailer Bonanza!

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of visiting Mount St Benedict College in Sydney to talk all things books and writing with some of the students there. It was pretty great because, not only were the girls delightful, but they also gave me cake.

As part of the activities leading up to the visit, the girls were invited to make book trailers for The Sky So Heavy, with the prize for the top three being lunch and cake-eating with me. I was also asked to pick a winner, which was tricky as they are all fabulous. Eventually I went with the entry by Grace Nicholson. I promised I would put links to the trailers up on my (much neglected) blog. So here they are. The first one is by Emily James. The second by Sarah Assaf. And finally, the winning entry by Grace Nicholson.


Children’s Book Council Honour and Inky Award Shortlist…. Hurrah!

Hello dear readers,

It has been more than a little while since last we met in Blogsville and I was feeling bad about this until I realised that while I may not have published a blog in the last two months, I have published another novel, which I dare say is more impressive. Yes, The Protected was released into the world on July 23. (You should go and buy a copy from a good book store, an actual real-life book store because they are an endangered habitat and the government has just approved the dumping of 30000 square squilometres worth of sludge on them. Or maybe that’s the Barrier Reef. Never mind.)

Meanwhile, The Sky So Heavy was awarded an Honour at the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards on August 15. This is more than a thrill. I’m not to sure what the correct term for something that is more than a thrill is, if you find out please apply it here. (My dad said it was a ‘real groove’ but that doesn’t feel quite right.)

AND THEN* just yesterday the 2014 Gold Inky Award shortlist was announced. The Inkys are the only award for Young Adult fiction judged by actual young adults. This makes them pretty fopping significant in my book** (pun intended). It’s really great when adults give prizes, but my books are for teenagers, the stories belong to them, so to be recognised by teenagers is JUST THE BEST THING EVER. (Yes I am shouting.)Award Stickers

The winner of the Gold Inky is decided by Gold Member, that rollerskating Dutch chappy from Austin Powers. NOT. No, the winner is decided by vote, so if you are a whipper snapper under the age of 18, it’s time to surf the internet wave over to http://www.insideadog.com.au/page/inky-awards and vote. Even better, vote for The Sky So Heavy.

Okey dokey, I’m done with my campaigning for the moment. Now I’m going to hop on a plane to the Melbourne Writers Festival right after I go and pick up a ton of Lego off my living room floor and scrape up the squashed sultanas that my toddler mashed into said floor, because that’s the kind of glamourous writerly-life I lead, motherfathers.

*I know you’re not supposed to start a paragraph with ‘And then’, okay? Give me a break, I just published a novel and the words ‘And then’ appear in it hardly ever.

**I have always used the phrase ‘in my book’. Now that I have written actual books this has lead to a punny minefield that is both dorky and ADORABLE.