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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dolly Fiction

This morning, Tehani Wessely was talking on Twitter about Dolly Fiction, a series of Australian YA teen romance novels published in the 1980s and 1990s. I remember that series, because I was just starting in school libraries at the time. It was particularly well written, which is not surprising, considering some of the writers who, mostly under pen names, wrote books for it. I knew about Jenny Pausacker, of course, and if you have followed this blog for a while you'll know that Susan Green, most recently on the CBCA short list, started out with this series.

But out of curiosity, I decided to look up some of the others.

Here's the link to a site I found, with that information on it:

Ulp! Margo Lanagan, Felicity Pulman, Ruth Starke, Meredith Costain,

 Tor Roxburgh, Merrilee Moss, and possibly fantasy novelist Karen Miller, 
or at least someone with that name. 

I remember at the time wondering if I could find a market there,

 but I've never been much good at a romance story, as opposed to having 
romance in a story that was mainly something else.

There's a special talent to writing romance, especially for teens. 

You have to be good with story, good with capturing readers' attention
and have to remember what it feels like to fancy that boy at that age, 
but also be good with the fantasy elements, whether it's a vampire romance 
or one set in the real world. Nobody seriously believes that the
rock star/famous athlete/ whatever will really fall in love with me, Gemma in Year 11,
but it's fun to pretend and a good romance can help you.

It's nice, though, that the publishers who did Dolly Fiction 

and, more recently, Girlfriend Fiction, took it seriously enough 
to make sure they had top class writers doing these books.
 It would have been easy enough to cash in by hiring just anyone,
 but good writers meant a series that could be respected and that
 school libraries would be happy to buy, and that perhaps 
the young readers would read those writers' other books
(Girlfriend Fiction does books under the authors' real names).

I think a course in romance writing will help me with my writing in general. Watch this space.

Book by Linda Hallan aka Tor Roxburgh


Sean Wright said...

Some familiar names - knew about the Tor and Margo ones ;D

Sue Bursztynski said...

Well, I didn't. But then, it was a long time before I heard of either of them. Meredith Costain doesn't surprise me - she is still doing this type of writing, and making a nice living out of it. But some of the greats of Aussie spec fic, BEFORE they became known for that - amazing!

Carmel Bourke said...

Hi, I'm Carmel, operator of both the Sweet Hearts Romance Books website & blog that you found the Dolly Fiction info on. Glad I could contribute to your new knowledge. :) It is so, so hard to find out any info about the older Aussie teen rom book series. Any info I find will be put on the blog, eventually.... I do admit to being a bit slack on it for the last few weeks. :)

Margo was the first one I found out about. I haven't read any of her books, but do ''talk'' to her on twitter now & then.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Welcome to my blog, Carmel! Well, the writers are still around and easy enough to contact; I interviewed Susan Green not long ago and mean to interview Margo when I finish reading the book she wants promoted, and I know Meredith and Felicity personally. Why not ask them? They will surely be happy to be interviewed on your site. :-)

Carmel Bourke said...

Thanks Sue. I honestly never thought of asking authors for interviews. You got a 'ooh, why didn't I think of that' first reaction from me. Brilliant idea. It will mean putting playing Sims Medieval (my new favourite game, lol - hooked on it) aside for a while to work out how to do this. I've asked ARRA & RWA if they have any knowledge, with no luck. I did think of looking for author websites but not of asking for interviews. I have a few regular buyers for the Dollys, even had a buyer from an ESL background who bought lots of Dollys from me to get an idea of how English was spoken & written in Aus in the 90s as that was the era when she was a teen. I never would have thought of teen romance books being educational, but for her they were. :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

You're welcome! :) And you'll find most of those web sites have contact details, though some writers give you only their agent emails and you can forget about those; many agents see it as their job to keep their clients safe from those pesky fans, alas. But I think you shouldn't have trouble contacting those ones listed.

I can certainly see that a teen romance would be full of the speech and culture of the time when it was written, so it doesn't surprise me.