Twitter is a community I joined a few years ago, for reasons such as getting information about events of interest to me happening in Melbourne, such as the Wheeler Centre at the State Library. When I was there, I found a lot more - fellow teachers, librarians and authors, chatting away about their work, and their forthcoming events. In recent days, many of them have been sadly speaking of cancelled book launches, including today’s guest, Poppy Nwosu, whose second novel is about to come out. I had heard of her first book, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, but been unable to get hold of it in ebook till recently.
I can’t offer a physical book launch, and I’m still reading the book, but I’ve offered this guest post and there will be an interview as soon as I’ve finished the novel, the closest I can get to a launch.
Meanwhile, here is Poppy, and some links below to where you can find her books.
I really wanted to write an interesting guest post about inspiration when writing fiction, about where ideas come from and how they are formed. I sat down to write it. I really tried to write it.
But I couldn’t.
Truly it feels as if the whole world is changing at the moment. We are facing a challenge like nothing any of us have seen in our lifetimes and, despite the fact that I know I have things so much easier than a lot of other people out there, it is still very hard to focus on anything else at all.
There is simply only one thing running through everyone’s minds, on everyone’s lips, seeping through every interaction. Across every thread of social media. It is an absolute overload of information, mis-information, fear and panic.
Yet, on the upside, I have also seen a real banding together of community too, something I have witnessed quite a few times now within the Australian book community.
So in the end, I think I want this guest post to steer away from the obvious. Less talk of viruses and fear. More focus on community. The Australian book community, specifically.
So I thought I might share my story and my own interactions with that community.
I am an Australian YA fiction author, and one of the things that has constantly amazed me throughout my journey to become published and my career since publication, is how welcoming established authors are to newbies within the #LoveOzYA community.
I hadn’t really expected it.
I think a lot of people might imagine that a small industry like ours could be competitive, and yet I discovered a warmth and kindness that extended all the way to award-winning YA authors offering advice, feedback and their connections to an aspiring writer with no achievements under their belt. That was me, back in 2017. Desperate to be published. No idea how to do it.
Really, it was local authors who steered me in the right direction. And then, when it was my turn to finally debut my first published novel in March 2019, a light romantic contemporary called Making Friends with Alice Dyson, a slew of successful authors turned up to my book launch to cheer me on. They championed me on social media, even when we lived in different states and had never met in real life. They recommended my book and put me in touch with podcasters and interviewers and opportunities for promotion.
And this kindness isn’t only contained to other authors. The #LoveOzYA community is built from readers and writers, podcasters and bloggers, reviewers, booksellers, librarians and teachers - and people who just love to read YA.
In a lot of ways, my debut year was like a dream.
My novel was shortlisted for the 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize and sold to Walker Books US in America. I was even lucky enough to travel to Varuna Writers' House through the support offered by Writers SA.
None of that could have happened to me without the support of this community.
And at the beginning of 2020 that same community took it a step further.
During the Australian fire crisis, incredible authors came together and organised #AuthorsforFireys to raise money via auction. I was one of many who joined in, and during a time that was difficult for everybody, it was a sliver of hope that authors like Emily Gale and Nova Weetman worked so hard to help our country and our people. Theirs really was such an incredible achievement.
Now the Australian book community is facing a new challenge. One of the scariest yet.
Like so many other authors, I have a book coming out on 01 April 2020 and have seen my upcoming author talks and book launch cancelled.
I am disappointed, of course, about what this will mean in terms of the success of my second novel, YA contemporary Taking Down Evelyn Tait, a story that I am excited to share and feel very proud of.
But in truth I feel sadder for the authors who are debuting this year, than for myself. I’ve seen friends have their very first book launches and talks cancelled, while at least I have had a year already to experience these things.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, but I fear that coronavirus has already deeply impacted our industry. It’s a scary time for authors, booksellers and publishers.
But again, as always, a shining light in tough times, is our book community, that network of people pulling together to support each other through difficult times, offering interviews and virtual launches and lifting new releases up.
This guest post is a result of exactly the sort of kindness I have come to expect from our community, so a huge thank you must be extended to Sue for having me on her fantastic blog.
It makes me happy to be part of such a generous community, and know that no matter what comes next, we will all work through it the best we can.
Here is where you can buy Poppy’s first book online. The Book Depository is also offering Taking Down Evelyn Tait, available soon.