What's is a normal day for you at Walker Books?
Wading through/ and answering a hundred emails a day! Many aspects of author care – I’m their first point of contact for any queries they may have (with the exception of editorial queries!), writing press releases, organising media mailout packs of books to review, keeping my media database up-to-date – always adding new publications to send books to and tracking editor / reviewer staff changes, keeping abreast of all published reviews (we don’t use a clipping service!) reading and filing them away, keeping tabs on any upcoming children’s festivals and writing events and pitching our authors for them and sending them our marketing material, contacting booksellers and organising our books to be sold at such events, calling the media and pitching interviews and bookpack giveaways, liasing with both authors and booksellers and schools to organise book launches, author school visits etc!
What do you believe are the popular themes in YA at the moment?
Stephenie Meyer and Cassandra Clare’s vampire/demon series have had huge success recently proving that gothic urban fantasy is definitely where it’s at for now! Fantasy has always been popular for teens and I expect to see it still going strong with similar genres such as futuristic techno-thrillers such as Brainjack (coming out in September) and The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner, stories set in dark underworlds such as Cassandra Clare’s new The Infernal Devices coming out next year (www.theinfernaldevices.com) or manga/comic book heroes.
The storylines and character development in Young Adult novels over the last few years has been appealing more and more to an adult readership – the content can be quite advanced – typical books that have what is called ‘cross-over opportunities’ have been written by Mal Peet and MT Anderson. Other popular themes go into territory that previously few Young Adult novels feared to tread such as mental health issues (Letters for Leonardo by Dee White – out in July) and caring for ageing parents with Alzheimer’s/dementia (Pearl Verses the World).
What do you believe is the future direction of YA?
YA will always really have to connect with its readership and it is important that the language appeals and never underestimates the intelligence of its audience. YA also needs to tackle the big issues, providing an outlet for the readership. Teens take on more responsibility all the time and this will be reflected in the books that we see. It is also important that the books don’t ‘talk down’ to young adults. Panels such as ‘Don’t tell the teenagers: Young Adult Fiction that’s Too Hard for Young Adults’ with participants Mal Peet and M.T. Anderson at this year’s Sydney Writers Festival demonstrate two authors who write nuanced, sophisticated, complex fiction for young adults.
For future direction of YA – books in which the majority of the main characters are adults, not kids – for example Exposure by Mal Peet – the main characters are the sports star, the sports reporter, the sports agent, the sports star’s singing-star wife, plus politicians and policemen and the smarmy worlds of celebrity, crime and corruption and opulent, rich society. Definitely gritty and not for the faint-hearted!
Which Australian authors get you excited?
Your big recommendation at the moment?
Surfache – Gerry Bobsien Nov 09, Letters to Leonardo – Dee White – July 09, Mortal Instruments series – Cassandra Clare – all available, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and its sequel The Ask and the Answer coming out in July 09.
(Adele - Andrew Finegan aka LibrarianIdol recommended Ness' two titles last night to me - I think it's a sign.)
What are some of the upcoming releases that readers should be chomping at the bit to read?
Definitely Ask and the Answer and most definitely Surfache !
We have some three fabulous first time authors this year; Elspeth Edgar has written The Visconti House - told in effortless prose - the story of two teenagers who - as they discover the mystery and romance behind the house one of them lives in - also discover they have much in common and are not the outsiders they each thought they were – it has such lovely writing. Dee White has written Letters To Leonardo; a boy turns fifteen, gets a card from his supposedly dead mother and realises - with serious consequences - that life and the choices people make for love, art or their better judgement aren't always clear cut. Gerry Bobsien's Surfache lures and immerses the reader, as well as the protagonist away from her comfort zone of ballet, life in Melbourne and old friends, to the magic of a new school and new friends and new world of surfing in beachside Newcastle.
Thanks so much to Juliet for allowing me to interview her!
Next up we have Penny Hueston from Text Publishing.
Walker Books Australia