Why is supporting Australian literature, particularly young adult, so important to you?
Books create communities, bringing together characters, ideas, writers, words and readers. #LoveOzYA (Love Australian Young Adult Literature) is a way to bring Aussie teens into that community. We’re trying to show them that they are connected to something big, and that the books of their own backyard are putting their stories and their voices on the page.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Gotta admit, seeing Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology on bookshelves felt pretty darn great! It took two years of editing, plus writing my own story for the collection, and every time I get to visit schools and talk to students about the anthology and the message behind #LoveOzYA, I get goosebumps all over again.
What are you currently working on, and what’s next?
I’m a literary agent who represents young adult authors specifically so I’m gearing up for a few of mine to have books out in 2018. Among them are Borderland by Graham Akhurst, a YA eco-thriller from a debut Indigenous author, and Neverland by Margot McGovern, a dark take on the traditional boarding school novel with sailing, secrets and forbidden romance thrown in. A new format of the #LoveOzYA Anthology will be out in May and I’m also working on a middle-grade book about Operation Safe Haven, when Kosovar refugees were evacuated to Australia in 1999.
Do you have any advice for local emerging writers?
Think about joining the Australian Society of Authors and/or Writers Victoria – these associations are dedicated to helping writers improve their work and find writing opportunities. Take advantage of all the opportunities we have in Australia to build a writing CV; enter short story competitions, submit your work to unpublished manuscript awards, and apply to be part of the Emerging Writers Festival. These are all chances for you to be edited, get feedback, deal with rejection and affirmation, and build a profile for your name and your work.
Why do you love where you live and how does it inspire your work?
Frankston Library has been my home away from home since I was a kid, and we’re also very lucky to have Victoria’s oldest general independent bookshop in Robinsons, another bookish institution that has nurtured me since I was a child and continues to meet all my bibliophile needs. Just generally, I think Frankton has provided a great kaleidoscope of people, places and cultures to feed my imagination.