Working at the Centre for Youth Literature there is always a project on the go or an annoucement of some kind happening. This one is especially dear to me because I’ve seen how much hard work nine teenagers have put into making it possible. The judges whittled a truly excellent shortlist of ten Australian and ten international YA books down to a final five in each category. They read 20 books, made notes, debated for literally hours and finally came up with this shortlist.
My job is mostly facilitating them getting their books, reading them by our deadline and sitting on a Skype call where I get to watch them partake in what I affectionately call Book Wars, where they argue with each other over the merits of the longlisted titles and negotiate their selections. It’s probably the best job in the world. I mean, I’ve never been employed as a chocolate taster so I can’t confirm it entirely, but I think getting a window into passionate bookish teens discussing the best YA literature of the past year is pretty great.
Now that the shortlist is public it’s time for teens all over Australia to have their say by voting. The winner of the Gold and Silver Inky Awards will be announced in Melbourne on October 2 at State Library Victoria.
It will be a relatively quiet MWF for me this year! Most of my time and energy is being spent preparing our Centre for Youth Literature teens to facilitate panels in the schools program. They are a great bunch and I know they will excel in creating engaging conversations for students to enjoy.
My one session of the year I’m facilitating is Crime Scene Imagination where I’ll have the pleasure of chatting to Ellie Marney and Rebecca Lim about two of my favourite things: YA books and crime writing.
This year was supposed to be my maternity leave year… how did I do keeping to my goal of not taking on any major projects? Well, let’s say I failed, but I failed well.
Linus was born November 2016, and I did manage to have almost a full 12 months without a major project. I did, however, take the opportunity to be a guest at the International Literature Showcase in Norwich, City of Literature. And then I accidentally (on purpose) fell into the perfect part-time role at the Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) at State Library Victoria.
So why did I knowingly divert from my 2017 goal? Because these two opportunities were worth it. Visiting Norwich and meeting literary programmers, producers and artists from all over the world was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I felt so fortunate to be the only Australian in attendance and learned so much in my week in Norwich. Joining CYL has been a career goal for me for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few workplaces I see doing youth-driven, engaging programming for YA lovers. The chance to deepen my YA knowledge (I’m a huge YA reader) and learn from this experienced team of programmers and producers was one I couldn’t pass up. Not to mention it happens to be the perfect part-time fit for my current life with two children.
These two things are my clear work highlights of 2017. As I wrote about earlier this year, it wasn’t a stellar year for reading. I finished up reading 50 books, which is far less than I’ve managed for quite a while. That’s what having a baby does to your hobbies! I also facilitated some really great panels at Reading Matters, Melbourne Writers’ Festival and the inaugural Feminist Writers Festival: I always feel so lucky to speak with writers whose work I love such as AS King, Lili Wilkinson, Shaun Tan, Penny Modra and Kyo Maclear.
I’m looking forward to 2018. When I joined CYL it was on a short contract until the end of the year but I’m incredibly happy to have extended that until mid 2018. I’m really enjoying the role and working with some great people. It does mean that I am unlikely to get much writing done, but as always producing brings a different kind of work pride and enjoyment. I’d like to read more books next year, too. I think that’s my only firm goal for the year professionally: read more. Always nice to set a goal you enjoy.
Are women in publishing the reason young boys aren’t reading? Some within the industry would have us think so, and I wrote about it for SBS News’ Comment and Analysis section. Here’s a taste:
“Women are relegated to working in children’s publishing because, like many other services or industries, books for children are considered lightweight, easier, less important. Like their counterparts in academic publishing, women are found in higher concentrations in ‘soft’ pockets. Their expertise is first and foremost as women, mothers, carers. They are certainly qualified to lend this expertise to publishing for children, but when it comes to high end literature there are men jostling to work on the serious stuff, the award winning, publicly recognised artistry of literature.”
This one was cathartic to write, because it touches on so many of my passions; writing, publishing, YA and kids books, feminism and wilful disregard of data. Head on over to the SBS website to read it in full. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue!