Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Interview - Penny Hueston (Text Publishing)

It's time for some more recommendations from the awesome folks in the Aussie publishing biz. Today Penny Hueston, Associate Editor of Text Publishing has dropped by Persnickety Snark to share her thoughts on YA.

What's a normal day for you at Text Publishing?
We’re a friendly, and busy, lot at Text and we discuss what we’re reading at every opportunity, not just at our regular Editorial Meetings. Editing is a fascinating and very time-consuming activity, so most of my time is spent editing, talking to writers on the phone, or in person, as well as reading, discussing marketing and publicity for our books with our members of staff, researching other books, proofing, planning the list with the rest of the staff, answering emails, discussing cover designs… and the occasional breather walking down Flinders Lane.

What do you believe are the popular themes in YA at the moment?
I heard a publisher at the recent Bologna Book Fair yelling down a hall: “I’m just looking for books about YEARNING!” In the wake of Stephanie Meyer, the old URST (Un-Resolved Sexual Tension) is back again in earnest. And the paranormal is definitely a hot area at the moment. Just as young people dying seems to be featuring a lot. But I’ve never liked talking about “Themes” as such. Writers should write the books they want to write, have to write, without trying to slot into a passing trend that may be passé before the book’s even published. Humour is a perennial and works well in serious books, too. By definition, many of the stories in Young Adult writing usually contain themes of coming of age. In Australia we have always had terrific migrant stories written for all readerships. Historical fiction seems to be making a comeback, along with the futuristic tale, but not too far into the future and not pure Sci-Fi. And you can’t go by the tried and true well written, pacy adventure story.

What do you believe is the future direction of YA?
More crossover in both directions. The lines are blurred line—as they should be.

Your big recommendation at the moment?
Amra Pajalic’s The Good Daughter.

What are some of the upcoming releases that readers should be chomping at the bit to read?
Debut author, Richard Newsome’s The Billionaire’s Curse is the first book in a terrific trilogy and was the winner of Text’s inaugural Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2008. It is an irresistible adventure story that has been described as The Famous Five meets Indiana Jones. We have done some extraordinary overseas rights deals already for Richard and are getting great feedback from advance readers, both young and old here. The Billionaire’s Curse is a well written story with a plot that will keep people up reading.

Anna Mackezie’s The Sea-wreck Stranger is one of those intensely powerful novels that stayed with me for a long time afterwards. It’s a YA novel about secrets, strangers, superstitions in a small community, and the choices a young girl has to make. It reads like a classic.

Bernard Beckett’s Malcolm and Juliet is a funny and sweet book about sixteen-year-old Malcolm who has decided to do his school science project on sex—and maybe he’ll get to have some in the process. Author of the philosophical thriller, Genesis, Bernard Beckett can turn his hand to anything and is a star writer. As of course is John Marsden, whose wonderful YA version of Hamlet, a novel, will be out in October. This novel takes you places with Hamlet that you never dreamed of going.

Hollywood Ending, by debut writer Kathy Charles, is a novel we are publishing this September, into the adult market, but which I believe has huge appeal to a crossover audience. And the same goes for Kelly Link’s The Wrong Grave also being released in September, as a Young Adult title, but which will have terrific appeal to an adult audience as well. Kelly’s delightfully weird stories have elicited praise from the likes of Garth Nix: “I believe she is a story-telling elemental who has unearthly powers that she uses to create wondrous and deeply fascinating tales.”

And I know there are a lot of Young Adults who are into Nick Cave — we are publishing his new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, in October this year.

Next year you can look forward to the international megastar Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind) whose Young Adult novel, The Prince of the Mist we will publish, along with a YA novel set in Byron Bay, by young newcomer Daniel Ducrou, whose manuscript was shortlisted for the Vogel, and for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (Best Unpublished Manuscript), as well as new YA novels by Paul Griffin, Sally Rippin and Beth Montgomery. We’ll also be publishing a great non-fiction title, The Western Front, by Leon Davidson, the sequel to The Billionaire’s Curse (already much anticipation for this!), Part Three of veteran YA writer Maurice Gee’s Salt trilogy, Blood Burrow, as well as Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters, and the sequel to Anna Mackenzie’s The Sea-wreck Stranger, which I can’t wait to read.

Thanks Penny (and Kirsty) for taking the time to chat and share some of their amazing upcoming titles.

Text Publishing


Summer said...

They all sound good. wow!

Natalie Hatch said...

Oh now I have another book to add to my wish list, the Sea Wreck Stranger.

Kathy said...

And I'm going to be a cheeky self promoter and tell you if Hollywood Ending sounds like your cup of tea, come check out my website and blog!