We’ve saved one of the biggest, longest author Q&As until the second-last post.
Why, we hear you ask, is this the biggest and the longest?
It’s a Q&A with the three authors of one of our favourite #LoveOzYA books of 2015, Zeroes.
Yes, collected here for the very first time are the answers of Deborah Biancotti, Margo Lanagan, and Scott Westerfeld to some of the most pressing questions of our time, including what their favourite book growing up was and which three fictional characters they’d like to invite to dinner.
Read on to learn more about Deb, Margo, and Scott!
1. What was your favourite book growing up and why?
I think I may STILL be growing up. But, okay, here goes. Just one? Allrighty, then. The Silver Brumby
by Elyne Mitchell. The story of a family of wild silver horses in the Snowy Mountains. I had never read anything as magical as Mitchell's evocative world, or as heart-breaking as the stories of her brave, noble horses. I opened up the first book again a few years back, and the magic is still right there. My childhood copy is soft and dog-eared. If I touch it, I revert to that wide-eyed young kid that I was, once upon a time.
In my teens, Paul Zindel's The Pigman
, because it was the first book I read that showed teens as realistically unwholesome.
, by EB White, because it was all about how the right words at the right time can change (or save) a life.
2. If you could invite three fictional characters to dinner, who would you pick?
First, I'd pick Holly Yarkov from Laura Buzo's Holier Than Thou
. I love Holly. She's tough but tender, she makes mistakes but she doesn't falter. She's exactly the kind of heroine I grew up with (think: Trixie Beldon, but older and still not any wiser).
Second, Azra, from Promising Azra
by Helen Thurloe. Sensitive, smart Azra, intoxicated by science, excited by fire and toxic chemicals, stuck with a future she doesn't want. Azra needs another friend, or three.
Finally, Ryan from Will Kostakis' The Sidekicks
. It's the only time I've ever liked the swim team character. But Ryan is thoughtful and articulate and, you know, maybe like Azra a little lonely. I think I pick the lonely characters, more often than not.
Mary, the narrator of Shirley Barrett’s Rush-Oh!
, for Australian historical conversations. Veblen, from Elizabeth McKenzie’s The Portable Veblen
, just because I think we’d get along. Flora Segunda, from Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora trilogy, for a touch of magick.
Blacky and Clarence from Deadly, Unna?
and Hermione Granger from HP
, for rousing discussions of social justice and Quidditch.
3. What is your favourite part of the #LoveOzYA community?
The positivity of the message: we love Oz YA; we're not putting down anyone else's YA, because we probably love that, too.
Its cheerful, noisy enthusiasm. I love seeing #LoveOzYA posts peppering my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Also, their posters make for a very pretty to-read list.
My favourite part is that it works! I love seeing Oz teens reading books in their own vernacular and in Australian settings.
4. What would you like to tell your 18 year-old self?
Stick it out, kiddo – it all gets better from here!
, girl, and be yourself. The more you perform, the more embarrassing memories you'll have.
You are pretty much right about being awesome, but you probably don't have to mention it as much.
5. If you could pick the next big ‘trend’ in YA fiction, what would you choose?
I'm hoping contemporary YA crime becomes huge. I love both YA and crime writing, so I think together they should topple the world. You know, more books like Gabrielle Williams's The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and his Ex
I would really like to see short stories and novellas take off and become commercial propositions. I look at the lively conversations around short forms in the science fiction and fantasy communities, and I wish both literary readers and young people would have those conversations too.
I'd like to see more YA writers collaborate. Co-writing novels, writing works set in shared universes, creating tightly themed anthologies, and doing fan fic of each other work. We all inspire each other so much anyway, I'd like to see it happening in real time.
6. Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be limited to other writers.)
I'm inspired by anyone who really loves what they do. I think that's a really rare quality, and it comes from within. It's the guy in the coffee shop who stays late to make sure all the cleaning gets done. The airport maintenance worker who could tell me the exact number of metres of carpet in the airport. The events coordinator who's always full of stories about the oddball requests she gets (and she always fulfills). The friend who runs a professional cake business on the side of her full-time job and full-time family. And right now, I'm inspired by my local yoga teachers, who put care and thought into every hour, who plan each week but also have the resilience to respond to the feeling of the room. That kinda amazes me.
Visual artists of all kinds, but particularly good figurative draw-ers. Health and emergency services workers. Some poets. Some musicians. Anyone who has recently completed a novel draft.
Seeing people perform live, whether it's music, dance, comedy, theater, horseriding, sports. Real bodies in motion are the stuff which words should be trying to capture.
7. What YA book absolutely needs to be adapted into a film?
by Tristan Bancks. It's a fantastic thriller about Ben, a resourceful kid who goes on the run with his family. But when his parents disappear, Ben is forced to look after himself and his little sister, Olive, in an unforgiving outback. I really love that book. Ben is one of the bravest characters I know.
The whole of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series
is begging to be played out on the big screen.
Kristy Eagar's Saltwater Vampires
. Vampires! Who Surf!
8. What’s the best #LoveOzYA book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
Oh, geez, here we go, trying to pick one again. Right, I'm going to pick Claire Zorn's The Sky So Heavy
. I vowed I'd never read another post-apocalyptic novel, but this one is just so very, very good. I loved Fin – responsible, compassionate Fin – and his little brother, Max, who keeps Fin trying to walk the narrow line of morality. That book is gut-wrenching and sad and scary. You really want to hug those guys.
Marlee Jane Ward's novella Welcome to Orphancorp
was just my dark, sinister cup of tea. And Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman's Illuminae
whirled me through space very satisfyingly.
I'll say Illuminae
as well. I've always loved novels told in letters and other documents, and have never seen a space opera told that way. Also Lily Wilkinson's The Boundless Sublime
, about a kid who joins a cult, which takes you to a place you never thought you could really see or understand, and makes you believe it.
9. What is your number one tip for would-be writers?
Keep writing. It's easy to stop. There's any number of reasons to stop. Most people will stop. But you, you should keep writing.
This Gail Sher quote: "If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to write."
Watch every kind of story to learn about how Story works: movies, TV, plays, jokes, sportscasts, gossip, urban legends, myths, politicians' stump speeches, newscasts, memoirs, and even other novels.
10. How would you summarise your latest book in 25 words or less?
: the sequel to Zeroes
. This time they're bringing the fight home, battling baddies on home turf, finding themselves and failing each other. All right? ;p
Fast, furious and fantastical, Swarm
picks up where Zeroes
left off and pushes crowd-based powers to new extremes!
ZEROES, now with superpower villains!