Where did the inspiration for “The Boy From The Mish” come from?
I’d just finished reading ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’, by Becky Albertalli, when I realised, I hadn’t come across a book featuring a queer Aboriginal protagonist. I had also written a short film script some time before, which was centred on this secret relationship between two Aboriginal boys. While those characters were different, I took a lot of inspiration from them when I wrote Jackson and Tomas. So I guess the inspiration was that I hadn’t read a book like it when I was a teen, so I was writing what I wanted to read.
Why do you write for teenagers?
The stories I most enjoy reading are about growing up, coming of age, taking the step into adulthood etc, and it just so happens those stories are mostly about teens and for teens. I love writing about that time in life where you’re figuring out who you are and what your place in the world is. It’s also an important time to be reading because you can learn so much from books about compassion, empathy, the lives of others. I think for me, I’m also writing stories for Aboriginal teens, because when I was a teen, I was only pointed towards stories where Indigenous characters were secondary. It’s important for everyone to be able to pick up a book and see themselves reflected on the pages authentically.
Your book has an awesome title. But what might it have been called, if it wasn’t called what it is now?
‘The Boy from the Mish’ was always the title, right from the first draft! The only other title I had considered was simply: ‘Jackson’.
What are your perfect writing conditions?
When drafting, I prefer to write at night. It needs to be a cool temperature, or the fan must be on. I like to have some music playing – usually Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Archie Roach or Bob Dylan – and the music needs to be loud enough that I can’t hear anything happening outside my room. No social commitments for that night. My phone needs to be away from me and on silent or off. Lastly, I can’t be even slightly hungover!
What is a curious or unusual thing about you that most people don’t know?
I’m a SingStar enthusiast and my brother and I almost got a perfect score doing a duet of ‘Karma Chameleon’.
Thank you so much Gary for answering all our questions and for taking part in our book of the month!
Look out for our discussion post on THE BOY FROM THE MISH on the #LoveOzYAbookclub Facebook page in the coming days and to find out about our March book of the Month