For the past few years I’ve been working on the first book in a young-adult trilogy, inspired by my favourite place in the world – The Southern Gulf Islands in Canada .
These islands – “strung like a shimmering necklace between the mainland and Vancouver Island”, if I can steal the Lonely Planet description – have such a unique vibe and special place in my heart (my family have a house on Galiano Island). Not only do they offer stunning landscapes of beaches, bluffs, lakes, and forests, the islands attract communities of artists, free-spirits, nature-lovers and independent thinkers. On Galiano for example, you won’t find a commercial supermarket, but you will find a bookshop and artisan galleries. The island culture therefore feels concurrently caught in the past (rustic and pastoral) and a step ahead (free of the constraints and boxes of the modern world).
My book ‘The Arcade‘ uses the spirit and beauty of the islands as inspiration, but it’s still very much fictional. It’s an environmental-fantasy story that follows a group of island teens as they reach adulthood, grow curious of the world outside their small peaceful realities, and take on the external forces that threaten to endanger their utopian home.
I think it’s time we started talking more about environmental issues in young-adult fiction, given the uncertainty of our future on this planet (there are many things I could reference here, but the latest on the Arctic seed bank is particularly pertinent).
The first book is finished now and I’m currently seeking an agent, but thought I should start getting this idea out into the world, to see if anyone’s interested in knowing more or beta-reading for me. I’ve also just made the Pinterest board that I’ve been using as inspiration for the past year public.
The Arcade on Pinterest
Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about The Arcade!
Another bit of cool news–my manuscript for young adults, The Button Makers, has been shortlisted for the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize 2013.
This is something I’ve been working on since 2009, so if you’ve talked to me about writing in any capacity over the last four years, you’ve probably heard me mutter a little about it. It’s the only manuscript I’ve ever completed and that initially scared me–what was I meant to do with this thing I had now made? I had an obligation to somehow send it stumbling off into the world, right?
Awesome competitions like the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize give people like me an answer to that daunting question. They give young writers a chance and, if we happen to make it this far, that lovely feeling of validation that people who know what they’re talking about have read your work and liked it. The prize itself, of course, is even more awesome–a potential worldwide publishing contract and full editorial support from the Hot Key team.
Regardless of who takes out the prize, I’m super grateful for the opportunity. It feels like every week I’m discovering new platforms giving emerging writers a shot, and that makes me really excited for the future of publishing.
Cool news – My short story Lingerie has won this year’s State Library of QLD Young Writers Award.
I have to thank the State Library for running the competition. They believe young people should be rewarded for writing stories! What an awesome thing. The runner-up and highly commended stories are fantastic, and I think we’ve all received the encouragement we need now to just keep doing it. You never know when you send a story off into the world how it’s going to be received – if it’s going to get a hug, a pat on the head, or a punch in the face. Mine have received all of the above. This time, I also got a framed certificate, a bit of money, and the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of great writers/people and drink champagne and talk about high school. It’s been wonderful.
I would love to discuss the story with anyone who chooses to read it. I have lots to say about it and what it addresses. If I had to highlight the point of it through one line, it would be this one:
‘It’s okay,’ she tells you. ‘We’ve all been there.’
Similarly, I really love the chorus of Lorde’s new single Team – “We’re on each other’s team”. Yeah, we should be.