Everyone seemed really happy to read BEGIN END BEGIN: A #LOVEOZYA ANTHOLOGY over the summer holidays, and I must admit it gave me the chance to revisit some of my favourite stories in the collection. Now it’s time to get into the discussion of the book, when you have the chance to give your two cents (or twenty cents?) worth about the stories and the book as a whole.
When I was putting this post together, I asked the contributors to BEGIN END BEGIN if they would mind saying a few words about the collection and their involvement in it. So here’s a bit of insight about the book and its process, from those who brought the stories and characters to life:
“I was so nervous having my debut publication be a YA short-story, sitting alongside ALLLLL the #LoveOzYA authors I so admire and regularly devour. But it was also the most honoured and humbled I’ve felt too, and I could not be happier with the outcome.
Much as the entire Anthology was a smorgasbord of genre (particularly to show that not all #LoveOzYA is contemporary and set in small country towns) I really love contemp YA, and particularly those about strong friendships and complex family dynamics. So I leaned into that and explored it in my story.
As for fun-facts about Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory … the town and Mount Solemn may be made-up, but John Goodricke whom I mention was 1000% a real person. A deaf astronomer, and the youngest-ever recipient of the Copley Medal – received at the age of 19, and I am so fascinated by him and really relished the idea of name-checking a very impressive teenager from history 🙂
I was incredibly lucky to receive an Australia Council grant, to tour Australia & Schools – talking all things #LoveOzYA & this Anthology. I went to WA, QLD, NSW & all over VIC talking to teens and it was incredible and incredibly eye-opening. When I asked teens what they wished there was more of in Aussie YA, the main request was for more LGBT+ narratives (lesbian, in particular) and more sci-fi & fantasy. I’m chuffed that we delivered both (in spades!) in the anthology, but since I am now in a position of privilege as a literary agent, I’m also *really* taking those requests to heart in the broader YA landscape …
It was the honour of my life to work on this book, with these authors – and I still pinch myself that it happened, and there’s a flesh & blood, BEAUTIFUL book to prove it! #LoveOzYA still has a ways to go in spreading our message of supporting our national youth literature, and making it diverse & inclusive enough so that ALL Aussie teens see themselves in stories they WANT to read. But I still feel that we made a dent with Begin, End, Begin – I hope we did.”
“With my story, I thought it was time for an outrageously, unapologetically political OzYA story.”
(N.B. – I think you gave us that, Michael!)
“I was honoured to be invited to contribute to this collection and then even more honoured when I read the other stories. There’s a dazzling display of talent in here. I hope there’ll be another collection because there are plenty more brilliant YA authors in Australia but I know I’ll be a bit sad when it’s their turn. Promoting this book with the other contributors has been so much fun– they are so bright and funny. I like being at this party.”
“I’d been toying with a way to explore different types of bullying – especially when people stand back and watch others get hurt, like in the song “Caught In The Crowd” – for years but the concept had never fitted in with my novels at the time. This anthology gave me the perfect place to tap into that theme and unpack the idea that everyone, even a bully, may be fighting a battle of their own whether you realise it or not.”
So now you’ve read all these lovely words, what did you reckon? Did the book achieve its aims? Do you think the stories were a good fit, and represented OzYA well? And there’s been talk of a #LoveOzYA anthology Mark II – what would you like to see happen next?
Please feel free to leave your comments here at the bottom of this post, or go over to our #LoveOzYAbookclub Facebook page and add to the thread. You can leave a 1-5 star rating if you’re time poor, or you’re welcome to add a longer remark to the discussion.
I’ll be back again very soon to announce the first title for 2018 – it’s going to be a doozy 🙂