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Thursday, 31 October 2013

The world of Nicole Hayes' book

The first author to tell us about the world of their book is Nicole Hayes. Welcome, Nicole!


Nicole Hayes is a writer, teacher and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She Tweets at @nichmelbourne and blogs at her website, You can check out the trailer for The Whole of My World or review the book on Amazon. The Whole of My World is published by Woolshed Press (Random House Australia) and is available here, here, and here.

The Whole of My World

Desperate to escape her grieving father and harbouring her own terrible secret, 15-year-old Shelley Brown disappears into the intoxicating world of Aussie Rules football, joining a motley crew of footy tragics. Best of all, she makes friends with star full forward, Mick So why don't her friends get it? Josh McGuire, who she's known all her life, but who she can barely look at anymore because of the memories of that fateful day. Tara Lester, her supposed best friend whose cold silences Shelley can't understand. Everyone thinks there's something more going on between Shelley and Mick. But there isn't — is there?

When the whole of your world is football, sometimes life gets lost between goals.

What does the world of your book feel like?
It’s a wet and wintry Melbourne in 1984, so there’s the big hair and the puffy shoulder pads, but also the innocence of a time before mobile phones and the internet.

If I fell into your book, what would I hear and smell and feel?
Eucalyptus and liniment, cut grass, and mud. The relief of a hot pie warming your icy hands on a wet and cold Saturday afternoon at the footy, the thump of boot on ball, and the cheering laughter of a crowd of people doing what they love most.

Who would I have to watch out for?
Ginny Perkins at Shelley’s school has some issues, but probably it’s Tara, Shelley’s new friend, we need to worry most about. She’s essentially on her own but probably the last person on earth who’d ask for help.

Who would keep an eye on me?
It’s Shelley’s story in every way. She might not be doing the greatest job of taking care of herself, but she’s an expert at protecting her dad from seeing her pain and struggles. She’s fiercely loyal, too, even though she gets a little waylaid for a time there.

What do I need to bring with me?
A warm jumper and an autograph book. A Glenthorn Falcons scarf would probably put you in good stead, too, if you’re very keen.

By the time I came home again, I'd know more about . . .
Grief, family, Australian football, and all the machinations and permutations therein. Plus 1980s Melbourne when football and religion ruled our lives, and trams ruled the roads.

Thank you, Nicole!

Monday, 28 October 2013

The world of my book

I have been trying to work out what it is that makes a young adult novel what it is--what's the difference between an 'adult' and young adult book? Some of the differences are ambiguous and perhaps slight. For instance, I read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff unaware that it was YA--because I'd listened to a radio adaptation and found it gripping. It was simply an amazing book--for anyone of any age.

I think there's an intensity of emotion in a YA or middle grade (MG: a book aimed at someone of roughly eight to 12) that's stronger than is necessarily the case in adult literature. By the time adults pick up a novel aimed at them they carry with them years of experience that may have worn away at that rawness of feeling adolescents know. But perhaps that's why adults like reading YA--there's a purity of emotion that hasn't yet been trampled on by compromise.

And MG and YA novels may tend to keep to one central protagonist's point of view: the structure is perhaps simpler. The choice of subject matter will also be key--there are certain subjects you wouldn't expect to read about in MG. YA seems more ambiguous, with books aimed at older teenagers covering just about everything you'd expect to find in adult works.

In my view one reason YA works so well (and appeals to adults as well as teenagers) is because it sets up its own world. Harry Potter's world is so familiar it needs no introduction. Classic school stories work because they are their own little universe. Jane Eyre can perhaps be seen as a prototype YA novel, at least in parts. Who can forget the world of Lowood School with its burnt porridge and epidemics, and the intense but tragic friendship between Jane and Helen? Great Expectations could simultaneously be read as a YA novel and a novel aimed at adults who've experienced a lot of life--the POV shifts between Pip as a boy and Pip as a wiser grown-up, looking back at himself in the past. This is one of the most fascinating elements of the novel for me. Pip moves between the flames of the smithy and the coldness of Satis House, between Joe's benevolence and the cruelty of Miss Havisham and Estella. His world is bipolar and I find it endlessly fascinating.

From this week onwards I'm going to be asking some YA and MG writers about the worlds of their book. Can't wait.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Welcome to Blitz Kid

Meet Rachel Pearse . . . 

1940. Rachel, 14, is on a train to boarding school to avoid the bombs falling on London, but she doesn't want to leave the stricken city and her sick mother. She jumps off the train and returns. As the air-raids intensify and the city becomes ever more dangerous, Rachel's only friends are an elderly German refugee and a boy, Paul, who robs abandoned and bombed buildings. Rachel and Paul plot to free Paul from his old way of life. But can the two of them  manage to stay alive on the streets in the fiercest night of the London Blitz? 

The first in my new series of young adult fiction featuring Rachel Pearse, Blitz Kid is available from Amazon. and Smashwords