Throughout Aussie Month, I will be interviewing a range of Australian YA publishers about YA, future trends and upcoming releases. My goal is to further explain the role of the great publishing teams in YA and to introduce you to upcoming Australian releases.
First cab off the rank is Erin Wamala. Erin is the National Education Consultant for Penguin Australia and a top chick! She is also responsible for introducing me to many books to which I was completely unaware of before conversing.
What's is a normal day for you at Penguin?
At the moment I am busy planning events for teachers in terms 2 and 3 in various parts of Victoria, and also in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. As the Education Consultant, I spend most of my time visiting schools and talking about our books to English teachers and librarians. The events I run involved bringing secondary teachers from the area together and presenting them with titles (old and new) that are suitable to be used in the classroom. Our department also plan launches and author tours and have a number of websites and newsletters that we send to both kids and teachers. A normal day involves working on all of these things, in some capacity, though during term time I spend most of my afternoons in schools.
What do you believe are the popular themes in YA at the moment?
You obviously can’t go past the vampire theme, but I believe the popularity of the Twilight series to be more to do with romance rather than vampires. That said, this is not new – most teenagers, particularly girls, want to read about love and relationships as some stage. I think the themes that turn up in YA fiction are universal and ancient – love, relationships, friendship, adventure, finding out who you are – they just happened to be heightened at this stage in our lives and therefore very prevalent in books for teenagers and turn up in many different forms.
What do you believe is the future direction of YA?
If I knew that I would be at home writing the next Harry Potter!
(Adele - Wouldn't we all!)
Which Australian authors get you excited?
We have some fantastic new YA authors who I am very excited about and can’t wait to read more of their work. The first is Adrian Stirling - author of Broken Glass, which explores the violence that bubbles under the surface of a tiny Australian town in the middle of nowhere - and Gabrielle Williams – author of Beatle Meets Destiny (available in August), a very funny and sweet boy-meets-girl story.
Two well-published and popular authors I always get excited about are Sonya Hartnett and Garth Nix, they both always go right to the top of my “to-read” pile.
Your big recommendation at the moment?
I am immersed in The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen at the moment. Set in New York in the 1890s, it’s a wonderful mix of romance, betrayal, bitchiness and fabulous frocks. It’s like a combination of The Age of Innocence and Gossip Girl.
What are some of the upcoming releases that readers should be chomping at the bit to read?
Beatle Meets Destiny is definitely my pick of the Aussie stuff this year. From overseas, I would highly recommend Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur (make sure you have some tissues near by), The Enemy:Fourteen by Charlie Higson (a fantastically scary and gory zombie story) and The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff (another one of my favourite authors, this is a beautiful 19th century, almost-fairytale). All of these will be available in the second half of the year.
Thanks so much to Erin for allowing me to pick her brain!
Next up we have Sarana Behan from Random House Australia.
Penguin Australia Website