The Between the Covers YA Brisbane event just so happened to fall on one of the only Thursday nights in months that I was free. My mum – also an avid reader of YA as well as the person who listens to my breathless book raves – and I made a night of it and headed into the city to the State Library. It was hot and humid and rainy and felt a bit like Christmas – a selective kind of Christmas aimed at bookish, enthusiastic (and maybe a little bit nerdy) people who may or may not fit the expected demographic for young adult fiction.
The evening was a cosy, joyful celebration of books past, present, and future (captured in these pictures by my excellent mum). Harper Collins YA cool kids Amanda and Tim (oh, and Terry the literate dinosaur) shared their favourite YA reads of 2015 as well as offering us a sneak peek at books to look out for in 2016. There’s lots to look forward to, and right away, I found myself adding a bunch of upcoming releases to my future reading list: Eric Lindstom’s Not If I See You First, Amy Zhang’s This Is Where the World Ends, Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger, Sarah Ayoub’s The Yearbook Committee, and Colleen Oakes’ Queen of Hearts. Time travelling pirate ships, an origin story for Wonderland’s queen of hearts, contemporary Aussie fic… gah, it all sounds fabulous.
A highlight of the evening was getting to hear Aussie YA author Gabrielle Tozer (The Intern and Faking It) share her experiences and talk about her work. She was adorable and endearing, but even more than that, was warm, open, and generous in sharing of her wisdom and experience. It was refreshing and inspiring to hear about Gabrielle’s writing routine (getting up ridiculously early and writing first before anything else) as well as her advice to “write what you know and then exaggerate the hell out of it.”
During question time, Gabrielle offered advice on how she presses forward when the demons of fear and self-doubt come in touting their crippling propaganda: “Remember why you love to write, and just start.” She shared about the novel she’s currently writing (which sounds gorgeous and I’d read it tomorrow if I could) and how, one day when the words weren’t cooperating, she wrote herself a manifesto of why she wanted to write this book, why this book was important to her. She came up with something like fifteen reasons to keep going, to finish the book, and now has a tangible document to guide her on towards the finish line. It was heartening and soul-building to hear that everyone wrestles with the same terrifying moments of creative emptiness, but it was even better to hear about practical, real ways to pull your socks up and get on with the job.
And if book quizzes, reviews, sneak peeks, and author chats weren’t enough, there were also tote bags, chocolates, and free books, which we all know is the fastest way to any reader’s heart. It was a wonderful evening, and if a BTCYA event pops up in your city: get thee hence. You’ll have a blast.