Today I am showing off one of my closest friends on my blog as a part of the From Australia With Love blog hop. Make sure you read through to the end for cool prize information, and check out the other great blogs involved in this tour.
Setting: more than just the scene
Brisbane, Mackay, Emerald and New Canberra (AKA future Brisbane) are the dominant locations for my novel settings along with short stopovers in Airlie Beach and Townsville. Not only are they all locations in Australia, but also in my home state of Queensland and all places I’ve either lived in or visited regularly.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I believe there’s not enough Australian set YA and NA available. There are definitely great Australian writers in these fields and classic Australian books. I want Australian teens and readers of YA/NA to have more options for stories that incorporate our culture. I want them to be able to read about concepts that you won’t see in an American set story:
- someone who takes a gap year,
- someone who attends schoolies week,
- someone who has Christmas in summer,
- someone who experiences high school where the grades have numbers attributed to them, not names,
- someone who goes to university where there’s no frat houses or sororities.
The second reason why it’s what I know. I know what it’s like to grow up in Australia, so that’s what I’m going to write about. One of the best pieces of advice for writing that I’ve ever heard is to write what you know and I’ve chosen to stick with that for most of my settings in stories.
I know about the streets in Mackay lined palms, fig trees and art deco buildings. I know about the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, the bustling people and the feeling of anonymity as I walk among them. I know about the dusty roads on the way to Emerald, the wonderful farming land and the beautiful outback landscape.
A third reason is I was told it would be harder. I’ve shared this story before, but I don’t tire of it. A few years ago a big publishing house editor told be stories set other than America or the UK don’t sell well in YA. I thought about that comment a lot. I felt like it was an outdated traditional publishing house view.
That’s not to say that a great story set in Australia wouldn’t be picked up. Plenty do. Graffiti Moon, Beautiful Malice. But it certainly feels like more of a battle.
For me it is even more reason to preserve. The feedback I get in people overseas love finding out about Australia and Australians. I want to share stories with these people that shares the Aussie culture with them.
S. M. Johnston’s novel, Sleeper, is available now from Entranced Publishing.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.
Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.
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