We’re so excited today to bring to you, our dear readers, a Q&A from Emily Gale.
Emily has been involved in the children’s book industry for nearly twenty years, and she has worked as an editor, reviewer, talent finder, and literary award judge.
Emily was the children’s book buyer at Readings for many years, during which time she was instrumental in establishing the Readings Children’s Book Prize.
Living on the other side of the world from most of her family has meant that the themes of home, belonging, and displacement have long occupied her mind, and inspired her to write The Other Side of Summer
, which just so happens to be included in our 2 for $30 #LoveOzYA promo!
1. What was your favourite book growing up and why?
Time-slips were my favourite kinds of stories and Charlotte Sometimes
by Penelope Farmer was at the top of the list: a genius exploration of tween/teen identity that really resonated with me. It’s set in an English boarding school (and no, I didn’t go to one of those!), in 1963, where Charlotte is new and lonely. She goes to sleep, unaware that the bed she’s in is about to transport her back to 1918, a different girl’s body, and World War One. So she has to live as ‘Claire’ in 1918 while still keeping tabs on her life as Charlotte in 1963.
My childhood preference for time-
slips shows in The Other Side of Summer
, even though my character, Summer, doesn’t exactly
go back in time. Time-slips begin with a character who feels out of place, who then becomes truly out of place (and time) in a magical way, and starts an adventure. Eventually they find their way back home, in more ways then one, with a powerful secret to carry inside for the rest of their lives.
Summer’s story has those hallmarks. She’s out of place, and the mysterious boy she meets is out of time. Like all time-slips the journey Summer and Gabe go on to figure out their mystery is healing, hopeful and magical.
2. If you could invite three fictional characters to dinner, who would you pick?
I’ll stick with YA characters, but for this dinner I insist on a personal time-slip so I can go back to being 17 – otherwise no one at this dinner party is going to want me there because it’d be like having your mum listen in on your conversations.
I’d invite Lou from Fiona Wood’s novels (she appears in Six Impossible Things
, has a major role in Wildlife
, and pops up again in Cloudwish
) because she’s very dry, very wise, loyal, complex and determined. Lou would sit next to Avicenna Crowe from The Astrologer’s Daughter
by Rebecca Lim. Avicenna is smart, fierce, and eccentric – not afraid of who she is – and I think she and Lou would have some fascinating debates and brilliant banter. I’d also add Lady Helen from Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
by Alison Goodman, because she is another young woman determined to walk her own path, whose unique talent is that she can fight demons, which is important information she could share with the group. The proviso of this is that Lord Carlston, her very swoonworthy companion in the fight against demons, has to give her a lift home on horseback at the end of the dinner party so that I can get a glimpse of him as they canter off into the moonlight.
Sad. I know.
3. What is your favourite part of the #LoveOzYA community?
I need two favourite parts – one about the community and the other about my place in it. First of all, I love the variety of people who are members of the community (bloggers, teachers, librarians, readers, authors, booksellers, youth advocates), the fact that it’s a completely open community, and the feeling that we’re all in it together because we are determined to preserve the integrity and increase the visibility of the Australian YA market.
On a personal level, being an outsider I love the fact that I do feel like a part of the #LoveOzYA community. Having an Australian passport isn’t a necessary qualification – being passionate about the storytelling that comes out of this country is. And Australian YA fiction has been my greatest educator since I moved here 8 years ago, so I owe it a great deal.
4. What would you like to tell your 18 year-old self?
I’d tell her that there is always someone in the room who feels more shy or more anxious than she does, no matter how excruciating she is finding a particular situation. To look outside of herself more, and seize each day.
5. If you could pick the next big ‘trend’ in YA fiction, what would you choose?
Tricky! I’m not very good with trends because my true love is stand-alone novels and I have very wide taste in terms of theme. I do particularly love authors of companion novels (such as Jaclyn Moriarty, Fiona Wood and Melina Marchetta) rather than series, because I like a story to begin and end in one go but I’m always keen for a minor character to take the lead for a brand new story (in fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing for my next book with a couple of characters from The Other Side of Summer
that, fortunately, various readers have said were their favourites). So more companion novels, everyone, please!
6. Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be limited to other writers.)
I hear some writers say that they can’t read fiction while they’re drafting a novel because it gets in the way of what they’re doing, but I am the opposite – I’m constantly inspired by the books I read while I’m writing. They make me try harder. Many of the books I read while I was writing The Other Side of Summer
pushed me as a writer, and just when I’d think I was trying my hardest I’d read another novel and get a renewed sense of determination. Books that particularly stand out during that time are: Goodbye Stranger
by Rebecca Stead, Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars
by Martine Murray, and Cuckoo Song
by Frances Hardinge. I thought all three of these books were so beautifully written that I wanted to create something better than what I currently had.
Beyond writing, I’m inspired by people with big voices saying things that a lot of people don’t want to hear – Malala Yousafzai on education, Julian Burnside and Kon Karapanagiotidis on human rights issues. A couple of years ago I went to listen to Tavi Gevinson, founder of Rookie Magazine in her teens, and she blew my mind with her wisdom, originality and wit.
7. What YA book absolutely needs to be adapted into a film?
I think Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
would be highly entertaining – I’d probably have to cover my eyes for some of the demon bits because I’m a wuss. And Cuckoo Song
would be wonderfully creepy. I’d love to see Fiona Wood’s companion novels as a television series.
8. What’s the best #LoveOzYA book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
I’ll choose one that took me a little while to get into and then ripped my heart out and jumped up and down on it – in a good way: The Stars At Oktober Bend
by Glenda Millard. It’s not a YA book for everyone (Millard is playful with punctuation and capitalisation for one character, and there is some poetry, both of which can be divisive elements, like anything unusual really) but often those are the books that people feel the most passionate about.
Another very memorable read - which isn’t due out until October - is Nova Weetman’s YA novel Everything Is Changed
. The reason it’s so interesting is that the story is told backwards, by two narrators, which sounds unusual but really makes sense in the context of the major theme of the book (cause and effect).
9. What is your number one tip for would-be writers?
I’ll have to refer to one of my previous answers: read, and don’t stop reading. Also, more specifically, if your story is quite sad introduce a gorgeous, loveable dog! Or a cat, if you’re more of a cat-person, but dogs tend to be more willing to go on adventures with you. Giving my character her dog was one of the best decisions I made in The Other Side of Summer
10. How would you summarise your latest book in 25 words or less?
When Summer plays her dead brother’s guitar, a boy appears. He says he’s not a ghost, so who is he and what’s the mysterious connection?