Monthly Archives: August 2011

I went a wee bit ranty about gay marriage …

How is this anything but beautiful?

I went a wee bit ranty on Facebook today. I don’t do this very often, mostly because I am more of a Twitterer than a Facebooker and it’s hard to get ranty in 140 characters; and also because – as my husband keeps reminding me – I don’t want to turn potential readers off by being a boring lefty hippy, tree-hugging, pinko, occasionally anarchist kook all the time.

Usually, I take his advice. Some days, I just get so fired up that I wouldn’t take the Dalai Lama’s advice, or Neil Gaiman’s, let alone my darling Husband Bear’s. Today was one of those days, and the topic that was making me see red was gay marriage. And it made me angry on MULTIPLE LEVELS, all, in my opinion, worthy of going a bit ranty on.

The first level is this: If I’d been born gay, I’d be devastated if I wasn’t allowed to marry. I love my husband fiercely. The day we married was such an amazing day, both for us and for our families. It was incredibly important to me that I was able to share my adoration of him with the people I love. Everybody deserves to experience such perfect happiness.

The second level is this: Why the flub shouldn’t gay people be allowed to marry? Marriage is about love; about wanting to show the world how much you adore another person, enough to commit to them for life. It’s a beautiful thing. The more people who want to do it, in my opinion, the better. There’s too much hate in this world; too much nastiness. The only way to see your way through the blackness is to give, and receive, a little loving. If you’re a girl who loves a boy, or a girl who loves a girl, or a boy who loves a boy, or a boy who loves a girl, WHO THE FLUB CARES? It’s beautiful and it’s miraculous and it’s what makes the world go around and it should be celebrated, goshdarnit!!!

The third level is this: People are going all wibbly over “the children, the children!” like a) ALL gay couples will necessarily want to have kids and b) all kids of gay couples will be somehow damaged by being so. In a world where divorces just about outnumber happy marriages, and a lot of those divorces are ugly, really, I can’t see how a kid is going to be too damaged by seeing his or her parents LOVING EACH OTHER, whether they’re gay or straight. Plus, still on the marriage = kids thing, my husband and I don’t have kids. Does this mean our marriage should be annulled? We’re also not religious. Should we have never been allowed to marry in the first place? Anti-gay-marriage logic FAIL!

The fourth level is this: My own personal mantra, the one I live each day by, is “Do what you will, as long as it does no harm”. As long as you’re not hurting anybody else, why shouldn’t you live your life exactly as you goshdarn please? Why shouldn’t you love and marry who you choose to? Why shouldn’t you enjoy a cider at the end of a long week? Why shouldn’t you have the right to die with dignity, or to terminate a pregnancy that would have an adverse effect on your life (particularly if you are a child yourself, or if that baby was conceived as the result of sexual assault)? It’s this belief that makes me, on occasion, tend towards anarchist principles. Why does the government believe it has the right to tell us what we can and can’t do with our lives AS LONG AS WE ARE NOT HURTING OTHERS?

The last level is this: We are a secular country, are we not? And yet so much of government policy is rooted in antiquated doctrine. It’s hypocrisy and it’s backward. I am all for freedom of religion, religious tolerance to right to a personal belief system – indeed, I have some kooky beliefs of my own that are very precious to me – but not if any of those freedoms impinge on another person’s liberty.

There endeth the sermon.

I may not have kids, but my best friend has just had a child. As “Auntie Katie”, what I want most for “Wee George” is for him to grow up free. If he turns out to be gay, I want him to be able to marry whoever he darn well pleases. I want to be able to go to his wedding as his crazy auntie, and embarrass him with stories of how, the first time I ever held him, he did an earth-quaking poo, the like of which I had never imagined before that moment.

I want him to be free. I want him to be happy.

I want the suicide rates amongst young gay people to drop.

I want this country I love to be truly unbound by outdated, damaging strictures.

If it means we all have to get a bit ranty to make this happen, so be it.

Guest Post – Slacking Off for Fun and Profit: a writer’s guide to research

Albert Einstein in research mode

– by Nansi Kunze

You know, I don’t mean to sound immodest, but I have an incredible talent. It’s a gift I’ve possessed since infancy, as a matter of fact. It’s of crucial importance to my work as a novelist, and it is this: I am a hell of a slacker.

Oh, you may laugh, but I’m not kidding – I’m an A-lister when it comes to slacking off. I’ve avoided emptying the scraps container in my kitchen for so long, it’s starting to inch out to the compost bin all by itself. My son was 3 and a half years old when he saw me use the iron for the first time. I was consistently the last person to arrive at lectures in my first year of Uni, and I lived across the road from the lecture theatre.

Reprehensible? Probably. Profitable? Definitely. You see, writing novels involves a lot of research, and novel research isn’t all frowning over weighty tomes and trawling through databases. One of the great joys and privileges of being a writer is that what’s relevant to your work can be absolutely anything, from ice cream flavours and pick-up lines to breathtakingly expensive sports cars and daring escapology attempts. And that’s where the art of slacking off comes into its own.

Want to hone your dialogue skills? Sit in a café and listen to the people around you. Watch DVDs that would appeal to the characters you’re writing. You could even go to a party, if you’re so inclined (that’s too much like hard work for a hard-core slacker like me, of course). If you think this kind of dedicated slacking off is unnecessary, you’re mistaken, my friend; there’s nothing like seeing a dated expression appear on the lips of a YA character to make a reader plummet from even the highest point of suspended disbeliefi. Listening skills are the key to writing believable dialogue, particularly in Young Adult literature. If that involves hours spent chatting to your friends, well, that’s the price you have to pay for your art.

Observe the author checking out random links her friends have posted on Facebook, or scrolling through her Twitter page at a leisurely pace. Is she frittering away her time? Not at all, I assure you! Social media sites are a rich vein of inspiration and information for the novelist. People’s holiday snaps become the basis of unusual settings and interesting props to enhance world-building. Tweets about unsuccessful cooking attempts or feline misdemeanours transform themselves into whole scenes for the hapless heroes of humorous novels. The patch needed to fix a gaping plot-hole could be just a status update away.

Of course, there are times when the diligent writer will have to go to extra effort to achieve the amount of slacking off their manuscript requires. If you’re writing historical fiction, for example, or a novel set in another country, you may be forced to go on holiday. It’s common knowledge that one has to experience a place with all one’s senses in order to write about it: the taste of a real Venetian gelato, the smell of a market in Beijing, the feel of the rocks beneath one’s feet on the Inca Trail in Peruii. The slacker’s method, however, takes travel to a far more proactive level of research – finding out about things you might want to write about. You know, one day. So you write technology-focussed contemporary fiction – does that mean your visit to a medieval castle doesn’t constitute research? Of course not! You never know when your modern-day characters will end up on a sword-and-sorcery filmset.

Nansi researching what it’s like to wear a corset and crinoline – Museum of Fashion, Bath, UK

But if, by some mischance, you are a writer who wasn’t blessed with this inborn talent, do not despair. With practice, you too can train yourself to slack off effectively. Why not begin right now? Make yourself a snack, sit down in front of Twitter and pretend that quasi-intelligent forms of fungus aren’t taking over that container of food scraps on your kitchen bench. For as Einstein once remarked: ‘Nothing is so indicative of genius as idleness.’iii

  1. Seriously. Having a teenage girl call some guy a ‘spunk’ is only okay if your novel is set in 1988 … and describing furnishings as being ‘gaily striped’ indicates that you are, in fact, 102 years old (just like saying you write for ‘young people’ is inviting everyone to think of you as an ‘old person’). ‘Cool’, on the other hand, is always cool.
  2. Hiking may sound like hard work, but it still counts as slacking off because it’s such fun. Especially if you have someone else to set up the tents and do the cooking for you.
  3. All right – he didn’t really say that. But you can see how he might have, what with the hairstyle and all.


In which I met the characters from Thyla …










So, I was on my last school visit for Book Week, at a small Catholic high school near Hobart. The audience ranged in age from Grade Seven to Ten, and they were all lovely, lovely kids. They were attentive. They laughed at my jokes (and even at some things that weren’t actually meant to be jokes but hey, that’s still okay, right?).

I gave my usual spiel about how I got to be an author – the many jobs I had and was atrocious at, the terrible “books” I wrote when I was first starting out, and the Sunday morning when I was sitting at home in my pyjamas eating corn flakes and watching Rage and a lovely lady called Nanette rang, offered to be my agent and changed my life (I also told them about the subsequent screaming and running around like a chicken).

Then, I started talking about Thyla.

I told them that the main character was called Tessa. When I said this, a little ripple went through part of the crowd. Strange, I thought, but I carried on.

When I introduced the character of Rhiannah, who befriends Tessa in the story, another, stronger ripple went around. I was starting to wonder if, maybe, I had my dress tucked into my underpants, or breakfast in my teeth. But, if so, why did the kids only react when I mentioned Tessa and Rhiannah?

I found out after I’d finished my talk.

Two young girls came up to me. One had long, sandy blonde / brown hair. The other had black hair, dark eyes and pale skin. “I’m Tessa, and this is Rhiannah,” said the girl with the blondey brown hair. “We’re best friends.”

If you’ve read, Thyla, you can understand why I nearly keeled over then and there. It was, honestly, the strangest and most wonderful moment of my life. To have a Tessa and a Rhiannah in the same school would be enough. To have them in the same class, best friends and looking exactly like the characters in the books?

Life is crazy and astonishing, isn’t it?

Back in the world of the Thylas!

Hi all,

Just a quick post today before I dive back into editing. I have just started my first read-through of the first draft of Sarco – book three in the Thyla cycle. It’s the second last book and, like Vulpi, features a new protagonist and narrator. I won’t tell you who as it will spoil a big twist at the end of Vulpi, but let me just say I am loving writing her.

This entire series is such fun to write. I am so glad that each book has a different heroine (while continuing to follow the stories of the other girls), as it means I get t learn more about my favourite characters and tell their stories in as much depth as I told Tessa’s. Don’t worry, those of you who fell in love with Perrin (which includes me). He’s still around, but Vulpi and Sarco have new spunky boys to fall in love with as well.

In fact, Vulpi features introduces my very favourite spunky boy. He’s an Englishman called Archie who has the sexiest accent, a rakish sense of humour and, of course, the essential ingredient of danger.

Yesterday, my wonderful editor sent me a picture she’d found of a man who she thought looked exactly like Archie. He was just gorgeous and exactly how I imagined him. For a moment, I felt like I knew how JK Rowling must have felt when she saw Harry, Ron and Hermione on the big screen. It’s such a thrill to see how other people imagine your characters, and to have them transform from the written word into “real people” (even if they are stock photos of very sexy men in cravats).

Apparently, discussions are about to start on the Vulpi cover. I can’t wait to find out what the super talented people at RH do with Cat. The Tessa on the Thyla cover is now the Tessa I see in my head when I am working on the books. She is just how I imagined her. It will be wonderful seeing how the RH design team imagine Cat!

But back to Sarco now. Something horribly sad has just happened to someone close to the main character. Of course, she wants revenge, and I am all fired up to help her get it. Better go now. She’s calling me!

There’s more to life …


Whatever gods there are up there, please let them bless Julie Goodwin!

What a wonderful, happy-making change it was to go on a news website and read an article about a celebrity’s physical appearance that wasn’t “Celebrity loses weight!” or “Celebrity gains weight!” or “Celebrity has a slightly rounder tummy than she did last week so she MUST be pregnant … Oh no, sorry, she just ate a hamburger”!

Julie Goodwin is happy the way she is. Amen to that. She also believes other people should and do like her the way she is. She’s one hundred percent correct.

Julie Goodwin also believes there are more important things to focus her time on than losing a few kilos. Like helping those in need.

Southern Somalia is experiencing its worst drought in sixty years. Famine has been officially declared in many parts of the country. There are estimates that 3.7 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, including 1.85 million children. 780,000 children have been classed as acutely malnourished. This is one of the worst food and humanitarian crises in recent history.

Julie Goodwin thinks there are more important things in the world than her weight. Instead of focussing her time and energy on being a spokesperson for some weight loss brand, she’s become an ambassador for Oxfam, a charity who are working hard to raise money to stop this food crisis.

I never watched Masterchef. I’m a total cooking basket case. When people talk about people who could burn water? That’s me. I have no interest whatsoever in food, possibly because I have Coeliac disease, which limits my dining options and has, for a long time, made me view food as something to be afraid of. I’m also vegetarian, an ethical decision based on my abhorrence of animal cruelty.

It’s only now that I’m taking my first, tentative steps towards an actual enjoyment of eating. My dad made me the best gluten-free vegan slice for at the weekend. The occasion was his sixtieth birthday. My husband also made a spectacular curry for the event, and my dad’s gluten-free Minestrone soup was phenomenal, too. I enjoyed the night so much – sharing food and joy and laughter with the people I love. But, on a day-to-day basis, I just eat when I’m hungry and I couldn’t care less if I ate the same meal every day for the rest of my life, as long as it sustained my health.

Given my attitude towards the culinary arts, the only reason I’d heard of Julie Goodwin was because I worked in a bookshop when her first cookbook came out. It was a phenomenon, selling out time and time again. I’m assuming Julie is a great cook, but her connection with the people is obviously more than that. She struck me then as a normal, regular, well-balanced mum who just happened to have a flair for cookery. Now, my opinion has changed. Now, I think Julie is extraordinary. And brave. Because it takes bravery, these days, when you’re in the public eye, to say “Stuff you. I’m fine the way I am”. Even stars who do say that (or something along those lines) initially, usually end up caving to public pressure and losing the weight. “I love my curves”, they say, a month before signing an endorsement deal to say goodbye to them. I’m looking at you, Ricki Lee Coulter, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jennifer Hudson.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a second saying that these celebrities don’t have every right to control over their own bodies – let them be fat, thin, in between, whatever. It’s not the public’s place to dictate how a person manages their own health. I just wonder why they need to comment on every kilo they gain or lose. Who actually cares?

When there is famine in the world, and animal cruelty, and war and terror, and rioting and human rights abuses, why the flub do we care how quickly Posh Spice lost her baby weight? Is it harmless escapism, as some argue? Easier to focus on fluctuating weights than all the horrors that are occurring in the world?


But I, for one, wish that a time would come when the people we admire are not the stick-thin, over-botoxed, orange people of the world, but those who are making a stand and making a difference. Julie Goodwin’s stand might be small, but it’s something and, amongst all the bad news in the world today, it was that stand that made me smile this morning. To know somebody out there cares about making the world a better place. Posh Spice and her post-baby diet?

Let’s make our own stand.

Let’s say, “I don’t give a monkey’s”.

Let’s put the $5 we would have spent on the magazine that features it into a charity jar instead.

If enough of us do it, maybe we can make a difference, too.

The Oxfam webite:

The original article, on

Fair Games?

William Holman Hunt's "The Scapegoat"

Something I’m learning, as I get older and *ahem* wiser (don’t say anything, Husband Bear), is that people love a scapegoat. People love something to blame. Sexualised pre-teens? Obviously, it’s the media’s fault, not parents not doing their job. The obesity “epidemic” (got to love media sensationalism, don’tcha?)? McDonald’s is clearly the culprit, not people’s lack of self-control.

The latest scapegoat to get dragged out (again) is “violent video games”, after Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people in last month’s horrific attacks in Norway, asserted that video games played a role in his “training” for the atrocities he was planning to commit.

Much has been said on this issue, by people much more qualified to comment than I am. I’m not a politician, a psychologist or even a “social commentator. I don’t think I even really know what a social commentator is. But I do know this: I’m a gentle, pacifist, animal-loving, tree-hugging, racism-abhorring vegetarian leftie. And yet, growing up, one of my favourite songs was Helter Skelter, a song that Charles Manson said partially inspired the murders he committed and encouraged his “Family” to commit. As a teenager, I fell in love with the book, The Catcher in the Rye. So did Mark Chapman. Recognise his name? He’s the man who killed John Lennon. I listen to Metal music. I read vampire books.

I’ve also read the Bible. Anders Behring Breivik read that book, too, and also cites it as an influence.

Also, I have a husband who plays “violent video games”. He was playing one for most of last night – a game called “Left For Dead”, the sequel to which has been banned in Australia for its content (apparently the guns that are used in the first game are A-OK by the censors’ standards. Axes? Notsomuch).

This is also the husband who is devoted to his family, spends most nights cuddled up on the couch with his cat, doesn’t eat meat, gets emotional over sad movies, and who, a couple of weekends ago, I found in our backyard trying to save an injured bird. My husband is one of the gentlest, kindest men I know. And he plays the same games Anders Behring Breivik plays.

I heard a great quote that I think encapsulates this whole issue, and I wish I could remember who to attribute it to. It was something along the lines of, “If you can show me the video game Hitler played before he killed the Jews, I might start believing that video games are responsible for these atrocities”.

Some “commentators” on this issue have come out and said, “if you’re going to ban video games because of what happened in Norway, you should also ban The Bible, because that influenced Anders Behring Breivik just as much, if not more”.

I don’t agree. “Banning” anything never works. Censorship never works. I believe the biggest cause of violence, bigotry and hatred is ignorance, not video games, music, books … or even McDonald’s (though I wouldn’t eat there if you paid me). The Norwegians responded the the attacks on their country in an awe-inspiring, inspirational manner. They basically said, “We will fight this attack on our democracy by becoming more democratic”.

They didn’t try to assign a scapegoat. They realised that Anders Behring Breivik was just man; a man whose own personal “demons” (for want of a better word) were the real reason behind his actions. No song or book or video game can change a person’s personality or propensity to commit crimes of this nature. Most people know the difference between reality and fiction in the same way that they know that pre-teens dressed provocatively on the cover of Vogue is probably not okay, and that that Big Mac probably will make their jeans a bit tighter and they should have a salad instead.

Video games don’t kill people. People do.

A life-changing school visit

Taking the road less travelled ...

Yesterday, I did a school visit. I’ve done a few of these now. It doesn’t mean I don’t get absolutely crazy silly scared before each one. I write because I’m not all that good at talking. But to get my work out there I have to talk about it. And it’s not like school visits are horrible experiences. In fact, usually, I walk away from them feeling completely inspired, invigorated and with a renewed sense of wonder at just how totally awesome young people are and how grateful I am that they let me into their worlds. So why do I get scared then, if every school visit experience is wonderful?

I don’t know. Blame low self-esteem, a lack of self-belief, or the utter terror that THIS group of kids is going to be the one that thinks I’m a boring old fart who bored them stupid for an hour and a half.

Yesterday wasn’t like that. Thankfully. In fact, yesterday was without a doubt the most rewarding and eye-opening school visit I’ve done so far. So I guess it makes a weird kind of sense that it was the visit I was most anxious about before I went.

See, my talk yesterday was to a group of kids at an Exclusive Brethren school. I didn’t know much about the Brethren before I was asked to do the talk, beyond the fact that the girls wore long skirts and had long hair and there was some controversy about their involvement in politics, particularly in Tasmania. I’d also read Grace, by Morris Gleitzman, which is apparently based in part on the practises of the movement.

I didn’t grow up in an organised religion and religion has never been a big part of my life. I guess I’m what you would call (and I do know this term sounds a bit hippy trippy but I can’t think of a better one) “spiritual”. I believe in a “something”. I just haven’t worked out what that “something” is yet and whether religion will help me find it out. I have friends who are Christians and I respect their faith. Equally, I spent some time as a teenager living in Indonesia and was exposed to the myriad of religious customs that are in existence there, in particular Islam as we lived with a Muslim family in Sumatra. I find religious customs fascinating.

Therefore I have to admit that, when I was asked to talk to the Exclusive Brethren kids, I was as curious as I was anxious. I bombarded the (inspiring) teacher who organised the talk with questions, ranging from “Are the kids allowed to read about magic?” (no) to “Should I wear a long skirt?” (yes – cue a rare clothes-shopping trip, me being a staunch jeans and sneakers kinda lass). I spent hours on the internet researching the movement. I got completely confused by conflicting stories and messages.

Finally, I gave up and decided there was really no point doing all this research. It was just stressing me out more. I decided I should just go there with an open mind, treat the talk as if it were a talk at a public high school. After all, of the list of things the organising teacher gave me when I asked what I shouldn’t talk about, the only topics I probably would have talked about if the kids weren’t Exclusive Brethren were the supernatural aspect of my books, and my love of paranormal literature. Aside from that, well, I’d hardly go in to a public high school and launch into a blasphemous, profane, pornographic tirade, would I?

I don’t really know how I expected the kids in the classroom to look. I obviously expected long hair and long skirts – and both were in evidence – but I don’t think I actually expected the students to look like normal kids. I thought they’d somehow look different, as if their religion would somehow give them a strange sort of aura.

They looked like normal kids.

And they behaved like normal kids, too. The girls were, perhaps, a bit more softly spoken than other teenage girls I’ve met, but that was really the only difference. When I arrived, all the girls were sitting in the classroom waiting. The boys had yet to arrive. Before the boys arrived, the girls were quietly, studiously, discussing a homework project. As soon as the boys barrelled in – with just as much loping, gung-ho bravado as you’d expect a gang of seventeen year olds to display – the girls turned immediately into giggly, scatterbrains, complete with batting eyelashes and tossing hair.

It was beautiful to watch. It was like anthropology, observing the flirting rituals of teenage kids. And it was exactly the sort of behaviour you’d see in any high school, anywhere in the world.

I was, immediately, completely at ease with these kids.

And, as I began talking, and they began asking brilliant, intelligent, thought-provoking questions of me, I was struck by the vivacity, the cleverness, the quirkiness and the awesomeness of this fantastic group of young people. The two hours flew by and, when the time was up, I can honestly say I didn’t want to leave. It was the best school visit I’d done. Those kids opened my eyes and my mind, renewed my love of writing and my love of life.

I had a cup of tea in the staffroom with the teachers afterwards and chatted about how the talk had gone and about the kids I’d talked to. The teacher who organised the event was so lovely, saying she was sure I’d inspired the kids, and how important it was for them to meet people who had gone through very different life experiences from the ones they were destined for. I’d told the kids a bit about my life – how I’d have many careers and failed dismally at all of them before finally finding my passion in writing.I told them about how I’d taken the road less travelled; about how I’d embraced a life of uncertainty and chaos.

The kids I spoke to won’t have lives like that. The boys will go into family businesses. The girls will get married and have children. That’s just the way it works in their culture.

I asked the teacher whether any of the kids in that class would end up continuing with their writing after they finished school. She said “probably not”. That made me a bit sad, but it also made me even more glad that I’d gone to the school and met them all. It made me admire this teacher, who taught these students skills they would most likely never use again after school, and who fought so hard for me to come and meet them; who fought so hard for the student to be allowed to read contemporary literature; who brazenly displayed Tibetan prayer flags in her classroom along with pictures of footballers; who was deeply committed to opening the eyes and enriching the lives of these kids, even if it was only for a couple of years, before they moved on into a life that was determined for them before they were even born.

As I left, I wanted to give her a hug and tell her she was one of the most incredible people I’d ever met. I hope she reads this and knows how I felt. As I left the school and said goodbye to some of the kids who’d been at my talk, I wanted to hug them too and tell them they were brilliant and unique and special. I can only hope that their time in the classroom of that incredible teacher equips them with this knowledge, and the knowledge that art is important; that passions are important. I hope the few years they spend at school equip them with enough joy and self-belief to carry them through life.

But then, that’s the same thing you hope for every young person, isn’t it? That they know they’re special and miraculous?

Yesterday, I did a school visit I will remember and treasure always. I’m glad I didn’t succumb to my fears. I know now that my small bravery in doing these things that terrify me is nothing compared with what the bravery shown by those kids. They’ll stay in my heart forever.

An English Teacher shares his top 30 YA authors (with a very biased number one)

Okay, I need to put a disclaimer on this post. The English teacher who produced this top thirty list is … my dad.

Hence the number one!

I was tempted to ask Dad to redo the list, WITHOUT me in the top spot but I’m actually really touched by how proud he is – and it is probably the only time in my life I’ll be in a “best of” list ABOVE the other amazing authors features here!

Apart from the very biased number one, I think Dad has produced an incredible list. Dad’s a teacher with over thirty years experience working with young people. He also manages his school library, along with his wonderful technician, Julie. I spent many, many hours in that library as a kid devouring novels by almost all the authors on this list and I agree with every selection he’s made.

That said, Dad is a firm believer in “the right book for the right reader”. He acknowledges that not every child will find all writers accessible. Dad is a champion of the “reluctant reader” (I am using this term … reluctantly) and never tries to force his students to read “literary” fiction. Many of the authors on this list are award winners. Some of them are authors I believe SHOULD be award winners, if awards recognised books that turn kids on to reading, thrill them, excite them and entertain them without necessarily being “Great Works Of Literature”.

Dad believes, like I do, that what’s important is that kids read and love it. It’s less important that they read books that adults deem “quality” and “worthy”. Dad instilled in me a love of reading for pleasure that has stayed with me to this day and means I am just as comfortable on the bus reading Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, Twilight or Hocus Pocus and the Stinky Pong as I am reading the latest Geraldine Brooks or a Thomas Hardy classic. Reading should be fun, not a chore. I’m grateful that Dad taught me that, and I know his current students are thankful for that attitude, too.

My “right books” ranged from Tamora Pierce to Steven Herrick to Ann M Martin to Nick Earls to Judy Blume to Robin Klein. I loved The Babysitters Club just as fervently as I loved Sonya Hartnett and Jane Austen. Who says you have to choose? Dad never forced me to, and I’m so grateful.

But what do you think? Who was your favourite author as a teenager? What writers would you recommend to teenagers? Do you believe there is a “right” book for every reader?

Here is Dad’s list. Numbers two to thirty are all writers I adore. Number one is a daughter very grateful for her inspiring father.

Steven Herrick
  1. Kate Gordon
  2. Steven Herrick
  3. Nick Earls
  4. Nan Chauncey
  5. Tim Winton
  6. Colin Thiele
  7. John Marsden
  8. Ivan Southall
  9. Maureen McCarthy
  10. Sonya Hartnett
  11. Morris Gleitzman
  12. David Metzenthen
  13. Kathryn Lomer
  14. Anthony Hill
  15. Meme McDonald
  16. Melina Marchetta
  17. Colin Bowles
  18. Doug McLeod
  19. Libby Gleeson
  20. Thurley Fowler
  21. Brian Caswell
  22. James Maloney
  23. James Aldridge
  24. Simon French
  25. Victor Kelleher
  26. Robin Klein
  27. Mary K Pershall
  28. Maureen Stewart
  29. David McRobbie
  30. Patricia Wrightson

What do you think of Dad’s list?