Today we’re incredibly excited to have a Q&A from a #LoveOzYA committee member, Ambelin Kwaymullina.
Ambelin is an Aboriginal writer and illustrator from the Palyku people. The homeland of her people is located in the dry, vivid beauty of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Ambelin has written and illustrated a number of award-winning picture books, and she is also the author of a dystopian series – The Tribe – for young adults. The first in the series The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
is currently part of our 2 for $30 promotion.
1. What was your favourite book growing up and why?
I didn’t really have one – mostly because there were no books speaking to the world as I knew it, back then. There are far more books by Indigenous and other marginalised writers now that speak to the lives of the diverse peoples of the globe, and we are so lucky in Australia to have the amazing Indigenous publisher Magabala Books, which has such a terrific range of Indigenous children’s and Young Adult fiction.
2. If you could invite three fictional characters to dinner, who would you pick?
In my culture, everything lives, including stories – so I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a fictional character. Besides, the purpose of a book is surely to visit someone else’s world rather than stay in your own, and the world I’d most like to visit doesn’t exist yet. I want a just world, where all voices are heard equally and all voices have an equal opportunity to be heard. So the dinner party I’d like to have would gather other Australian writers who’ve spoken about diversity in YA around a table – the likes of Rebecca Lim, Sarah Ayoub, Danielle Binks, Will Kostakis, Erin Gough, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Justine Larbalestier and many others – now that’d be some party!
3. What is your favourite part of the #LoveOzYA community?
Australian YA authors are unashamedly passionate about our genre and our stories. I love that we care and we’re not afraid to show it.
4. What would you like to tell your 18 year-old self?
I think I actually wrote what I’d most like to tell my 18 year old self into The Foretelling of Georgie Spider
, and it’s this: “Ember had said once that a belief that any person was less than human was evidence of the inhumanity of those who held the belief, not those who were subjected to it”. Ember, like so many of my characters, is way smarter than me.
5. If you could pick the next big ‘trend’ in YA fiction, what would you choose?
#OwnVoices. Marginalised peoples telling the stories of our experiences in our own words, and our own ways.
6. Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be limited to other writers.)
The next generation. It’s why I’m a teacher; its why I write YA. I’ve said before that my dystopian series could only ever have been YA, because writing of those who will save the world inevitably involves writing of the young.
7. What YA book absolutely needs to be adapted into a film?
Becoming Kirrali Lewis
by Jane Harrison.
8. What’s the best #LoveOzYA book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
by Indigenous writer and poet Ali Cobby Eckermann. It’s a verse novel, and I so admire how Ali – like all great poets - can say so much in so few words.
9. What is your number one tip for would-be writers?
Be at once your own most ardent supporter and strongest critic.
10. How would you summarise your latest book in 25 words or less?
The end of The Tribe
series – and for my characters, the beginning of the lives they lead beyond the pages of what I capture in books.