While we love being completely engrossed by a YA book series, we really enjoy a good standalone YA novel just a tiny bit more.
Our Q&A today comes from an author who has written not one but two truly excellent standalone #LoveOzYA novels, Melissa Keil.
Melissa studied Cinema and Anthropology at uni. She has been a high school teacher, a Middle Eastern tour guide, a waitress, a community theatre dogsbody, and an IT help desk person.
Fortunately for us, she is now a children’s book editor and the author of two novels, Life in Outer Space
and The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
1. What was your favourite book growing up and why?
The book I’ve read more times than any other is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams. I was given a copy when I was about eight or nine, when I was still mostly devouring piles of Sweet Valley High books, and Adams’ voice and wit were a revelation to me (even though I understood only half of the humour as a pre teen!). It’s the book that’s probably had the biggest influence on my reading tastes to this day.
2. If you could invite three fictional characters to dinner, who would you pick?
These questions are always so tricky – it’s not just a matter of who I would want to chat with, but consideration needs to be given to who would have the most interesting conversations between themselves (that would be lively, without descending into fisticuffs or tears). Also, a character who could bring food would be useful – so I’m going to pick Alba from The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
(cheeky to pick my own character, I know, but she can bake, and I do think she’d be lots of fun at a dinner party!) Both Alba and I are comic book nerds, so I would have to invite Alba’s fictional hero, Wonder Woman. And because I would need to balance out Alba’s fan-girl-ing with a sensible, level-headed presence, I’m going to add Jane Eyre (also because I would love to eavesdrop on Jane’s conversation with Wonder Woman).
3. What is your favourite part of the #LoveOzYA community?
Apart from all the awesome books, I love the fact that it genuinely is a community – I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a more supportive, inspiring group of people. There’s always a really wonderful sense of excitement about new books, lots of cheerleading from fellow writers, and lot of eagerness to support new voices. And of course, we have some of the most passionate and lovely readers too!
4. What would you like to tell your 18 year-old self?
Forget about studying Criminology and go study English instead – as much as you love The X Files
, you will never be Agent Scully, and this is not the career path for you. Stop procrastinating and start writing. And don’t get a Japanese character tattoo; they will not be cool for long.
5. If you could pick the next big ‘trend’ in YA fiction, what would you choose?
Oh how I wish I had that crystal ball! I have no idea what the next trend might be – there seems to be so many great books of all genres and ‘themes’ coming through right now. I’d love to see more YA comedy though.
6. Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be limited to other writers.)
I’m lucky enough to be able to interact with teen readers at school visits and writers events and so forth – young readers (and young writers) are amazingly inspiring. During the sometimes hard, trying slog of writing a book, there’s nothing more heartening than getting warm, passionate or insightful feedback from your readers.
7. What YA book absolutely needs to be adapted into a film?
I’ve been waiting to see Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn
on the big (or small) screen since I was a teenager. I still have my fingers crossed that this eventuates one day!
8. What’s the best #LoveOzYA book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
There are so many fabulous local YA books – I couldn’t even begin to pick the best one I have read in the last year, but I’ve just started reading When Michael Met Mina
by Randa Abdel-Fattah, and I am hooked! I will be devouring this one quickly.
9. What is your number one tip for would-be writers?
Write what you want to write; don’t try to write what you think publishers will want or what might be ‘on trend’ if it’s not the story that you have a burning desire to tell. Sincerity comes through on the page, and the story you’re passionate about will be the one that people want to read.
10. How would you summarise your latest book in 25 words or less?
It’s about magic and mystery, friendship and siblings, ambition, time, romance and maths; it’s about embracing the prospects of both success and failure.