The Yearbook CommitteeThe Yearbook Committee goes to print this month. When it is finally released on March 1st (although it hits stores in late Feb), it will be the culmination of two years of anxiety. I didn’t expect this from the outset. I thought it would be easier because I had done it before. But this time, there were expectations. Knowing the ropes meant I had to meet those expectations. When I struggled, my agent comforted me. She told me that for the majority of authors, writing the second book is the hardest. I’ve only written two, but I can say with absolute certainty that things were so different with this book. While Hate is such a Strong Word took longer to write (three drafts before I even sent it to HC), this one just spanned a longer length of time. I had a new publisher, a new life with a baby, and for the first time, no place to write in the editing stages. I would snatch any hours that I could in the library. It’s also a process I felt a little more removed from – it was my readers (and any YA fan on social media really) that determined the cover, it was my publishers who determined the blurb, and after I met the deadline for the first draft, I hardly spoke to my agent about it. This process just felt more solitary, and the little bits of confidence (or was it optimism?) that I had in the aftermath of Hate‘s release have waned. Now, I’m just nervous. Until March 1st (or until I have more news on the book front) here are a few things you might be interested in:
  • you can now pre-order the book at selected online bookstores, like Booktopia and Angus & Robertson
  • the playlist that helped me write it is coming soon, just trying to decide if I should mention the songs in the book too, which helped the characters bring the yearbook to life
  • this interview I’ve done with fellow creative Damien Madden
  • I’m honoured to be an ambassador for the Stella Prize Schools Program, and they’ve interviewed me about that here
  • Put the CBCA National Conference in your diaries – it hits Sydney in May 2016 and I am chuffed to be presenting a panel on social issues in children’s + YA literature (aka Myriad Possibilities for a Better World) at the event
  • The first review is up on goodreads.com and I’m still trying to decide if writing ‘clean’ books is a good or bad thing. That said, I like that it’s been referred to as The Breakfast Club for the millennials
  • Finally, if you fancy a chat or a signed copy of one of my books, I’d love for you to come along to the official launch at Kinokuniya in Sydney on February 25th. Details to come soon!

Also, stuff that I am personally excited about that I feel I should share:

  • All the #loveozya releases of 2016. There are too many to list but off the top of my head: Helen Chebette’s Bro, Kirsty Eager’s Summer Skin, Shivaun Plozza’s Frankie; plus new Gabrielle Tozer set in regional Australia (I adore books set in regional Oz) and a new one by Jaclyn Moriarty. I can hear my wallet sighing already, and Braiden Asciak’s excellent goodreads list of all the upcoming titles is not doing it any favours.
  • An upcoming talk by my friend and mentor Rachel Hills, at All About Women next year. This woman has inspired me from day dot and her intellectual prowess and stellar achievements haven’t changed the fact that she is a ‘nice girl’.
  • The amazing Danielle Binks working with my brilliant publisher Chren Byng on an anthology of #loveozya to be published in 2017. Chren has been the brains behind all the amazing cover options for The Yearbook Committee with ZERO input on my part, so I know her creativity + Danielle’s excellent grasp of everything YA will make a great book. (I know this because I pre-interviewed Danielle for a story on NA that I wanted to write, and her answers blew me away. So I paused writing said piece because I just figured I knew too little and it was all too big in my head).
  • Christmas! Because it is just the best time of year for me and really reminds me of what ought to be valued. I say this particularly after watching this video, which broke my heart and reminded me of the people suffering in places that we just see as war zones. But I love that I feel the buzz in the air everywhere I go, hearing Christmas Carols in the shops, flicking through the bumper recipe books that supermarkets bring out…
  • All the online love from people excited about my book. Off the top of my head I would like to thank Eugenia at Genie with a Book, Anjulie Pickett at the Perth YA Book Club, Annie McCann at Read3r’z Re-Vu and Annie Fisher at The Book Cube. Your enthusiasm really helps to clarify my feelings about why I do what I do (and how I do it, even if I am not sure if ‘clean’ is bad), but mostly, I love the solidarity because I too am a fan girl at heart, just about other people’s books.
  • The movie Suffragette. If my husband’s surname didn’t sound very similar to Christabel Pankhurst’s, then I would have named my daughter after her. I have loved the suffragette story for ages, and am looking forward to seeing these first-wave feminists on screen. (Also, I love a good period flick).
That’s it from me. My husband has just notified me that I have burnt the chips I put in the oven, which means my current carb craving will not be met, but at least the distraction was worth it. I haven’t blogged in ages!