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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Supporting Each Other: Children's and YA Writers

There was an online discussion, recently, I forget where, about writers and their support for each other. We have a small community in Australia and tend to know each other,if not in person, then online. I admit I have met more writers wearing my reviewer's and teacher librarian hat than as a colleague. They see my name on a tag at a conference, a convention or at Booktalkers and give a squeal of delight because I gave their last book a good review. I meet them on panels, as a colleague, at SF cons, though not the other events because I still haven't been invited to speak at Reading Matters,the Melbourne Writers Festival or Booktalkers, alas. But we meet, we talk, we commiserate.

 Generally, writers for the young are very nice people. And they know how to party. I remember an Allen and Unwin party some years ago, held at their offices. I arrived and met some very pleasant folk whom I didn't know and who were not doing much. Then someone came downstairs and told me the children's bunch were upstairs. Going up, I found a REAL party happening.

 Those who have blogs promote each other's books and events. I remember the support I got from Marianne De Pierres and her site when Wolfborn was published. George Ivanoff too, although I admit I've known him through Star Trek fandom long before either of us sold anything. I remember emailing Doug McLeod to congratulate him on his CBCA short listing and being congratulated on my Notable(I hadn't known).

 Since joining Twitter in January I have seen even more of the positive interaction between writers, spec fic and children's alike. You have to realise, writing is by its nature a competitive occupation. If you sell a book or a short story or article it's because the publisher wants yours, not someone else's. If you write something you have to hope no one else is doing it; I well remember the time I nearly sold Wolfborn, only to miss out because someone else had just sold a book with the same story as a background. When awards time comes, being short listed means more copies of your book will sell.

 And yet, time after time I have seen people congratulating each other, sincerely, for short listings, even when they miss out, promoting each other's books, sharing market information. One of the reasons I never needed an agent was because of the generosity of fellow writers who shared information or even put a word in their publishers' ears, giving me a foot in the door, though it was then up to me to make sure I got inside.

 Another nice thing about most children's writers is that they allow their public to communicate. Since I've been arranging interviews for my students I have only had two refusals - one from a writer who had an overseas tour and just couldn't, another from a writer's agent, whose client usually wrote for adults. Mind you, Charlie Higson, who came to YA from adult fiction, was only too happy to oblige, and what a wonderful interview it was! I have told my students they can forget about interviewing J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, but really, most people are easy to approach. I am very pleased to be a member of such a nice profession!


Lan said...

I haven't had the chance to meet many writers so far and it's a shame but even the few that I've met have been great. One day I will go to a book event but until then, even the online interaction is great!

Sean Wright said...

I concur. Since starting doing book reviewing and interviews 18 months go I have not had a negative experience. Writers in general are keen to talk about their work, and help out other writers

Sue Bursztynski said...

Agreed, Sean! Of course, they'd have to be silly to turn you down. But I'm talking about people who have been willing to speak to teenagers! It started when Juliet Marillier kindly agreed to speak to my student Thando and I thought, "If her, why not others?" and found that, yes, others were only too happy to be interviewed by their readers.

Lan, if you want to meet some more writers without going to a major book event, Nova Mob will be meeting soon and you can meet Trudi Canavon, Lucy Sussex and possibly Kirstyn McDermott, all in the same room over tea and biscuits and chat about SF. I'll email you when I hear.