A monthly update from our Teen Advisory Board
This month, we were fortunate to have a visit from Scot Gardner. Now a critically acclaimed author of several novels for young readers, Scot began his career writing for Earth Garden magazine and got his big break when he took the manuscript of his first novel to a John Marsden writing camp.
Scot travelled two hours by train to be with us. He showed us photos of his ‘office’ (a deserted bushwalking track) and his ‘co-workers’ (a bird, koala and a wombat) who all seem to go by the moniker Steve. It was utterly fascinating to see the process of an author who works outdoors – writing longhand on tree stumps and picnic tables, and using voice-recognition technology to create a book.
We were also interested to hear Scot discuss the influences behind his forthcoming 18th novel, Changing Gear, which will be published in June. The story is about 16 year-old, Merrick, who is still grieving for his grandfather who passed away and feeling disillusioned with his ordinary life. He jumps on his motorcycle and takes an impromptu road trip, having adventures and meeting various people along the way – including a swagman who chooses to live on the road without possessions.
While the inspiration for this story was multitudinous, Scot explained that it was partly based on a motorcycle road trip he did with his brother a few years ago and their experience of meeting a real life swagman, John ‘Grant’ Cadoret, on that trip. Scot was inspired and astounded by this man who has lived on the road for nearly 40 years. We encourage you to look out for Changing Gear to read all about the colourful character Scot created based on this real life person and the importance of him to Merrick in this heartfelt, road trip novel.
As well as meeting Scot, the teens took a look at the forthcoming promotional material for the announcement of the 2018 shortlist for the Readings Young Adult Prize – mark your calendars for Tuesday 22 May! Their responses were really helpful in determining what would be most appealing to teen readers.
We also had a big discussion about books to the screen. The teens are really enjoying the movie, Love, Simon, which is based on Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Many of them are looking forward to Becky’s forthcoming novel, Leah on the Offbeat, which focuses on Simon’s BFF and is due to arrive in May. And we briefly touched on Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which some of the teens read since the last meeting. You can read their thoughts below.
The session ran late because there was so much to talk about, and as usual, the teens staggered out laden down with swags of exciting YA to read.
Teen reviews of Children of Blood and Bone
‘Two words. LOVED. IT. Forget the gripping plot, the lovable characters and outstanding writing. Can someone just focus on how diverse this book is? It is so good to see YA evolving. I cannot find a bad review about this book! Tomi Adeyemi picked everything that makes a YA book loveable and put in between this cover. It ticks all of the boxes, and I’m sure it will tick yours too. A MUST for anyone who wants a fantastic fantasy, and an addictive and relatable book.’
– Mia Tikellis
‘This thrilling YA adventure takes a distinctively West-African approach to epic fantasy, where Tomi Adeyemi debuts a promising story with a gutsy heroine and a compelling plot that deals with contemporary themes, like racial discrimination and abuse of power.’
– Tracy Hwang
You can read more rave reviews for Adeyemi’s book here.