- Congratulations on having your debut novel, The River, published, Krystal. Tell us a little about the novel.
Thanks so much! The River is a YA fantasy about a girl named Kiya who lives on an island which is surrounded by a mysterious, deadly river. As a child, she fell in and survived, a sign the villagers took as a message from the gods that Kiya was ‘chosen’. She is then assigned to travel across the river to collect their supplies from the Mainland when she turns seventeen. The creatures in the water aren’t the only things she’s afraid of though – the river is known to drive people insane too.
- Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
I started writing this story when I was 14, and a lot of it wasn’t planned out. I just had this vision in my head about this island people were trapped on, and a girl who was going to escape it. Maybe it was my subconscious’ way of dealing with high school!
- You did the CBC Online Writing for Children course with Catherine Johnson. Tell us a little about why you applied for it and how it helped you to get your novel published.
I was actually googling agents to submit to when it came up. Thank God it did too, because the book was nowhere near ready at that stage! I read through everything, including testimonials from published authors who had taken the course, and I figured I’d give it a shot. I honestly didn’t think anything would come of it, and I didn’t tell anyone because if I didn’t get in there’d be no harm done. I remember my Mum got a psychic reading once and told me the lady had said I’d be doing some kind of course at the end of the year. I just laughed it off, then a couple weeks later I got an email from Rufus Purdy. I had to confess I’d actually applied then!
- You are represented by Sarah McKenzie at Hindsight Literary Agency. Tell us about your submission process and how you came to work with Sarah.
After the course, and multiple re-writes, I started submitting to agents. Hindsight was the first one I subbed to actually, and I highlighted it in a different colour in my little notebook because it was the only Australian agency that were taking submissions for YA at the time. I very much wanted an agent who lived in my own country, but didn’t hold out much hope as Sarah was the only one I submitted to! Two weeks later, she requested the full manuscript.
- How did you react when she offered you representation?
I went into shock a little. I was by myself in my room, and I read through it twice, then I calmly walked upstairs and read it out to my Mum. She started freaking out! I didn’t understand if I was actually being offered representation – the thought was too unbelievable to comprehend – so I copied the email to the Scribblers private facebook group and asked everyone! My hands were shaking really bad so it was hard to type. One of the Scribblers, Owen, messaged me and he helped craft a reply email since I couldn’t even begin to think straight! It was a very exciting and surreal time.
- Tell us about you…
I’m Australian, 19, and study creative writing at university. I’m an older sister to three siblings, work at a fruit shop, and the most interesting part of my life is the worlds I always seem to be escaping into!
- Where and when do you write?
At home in my bedroom mostly. Either the middle of the day or middle of the night seem to be the times when inspiration strikes!
- What are you working on now?
I’ve finished a draft of another fantasy novel called Moon Blades, and also started the first few chapters of another fantasy that hasn’t been planned out yet. There’s a paranormal/thriller type story whirring around in my head too, as well as half a dozen one line seeds I haven’t had the chance the plant yet.
- Favourite books?
The Book Thief, the His Fair Assassin trilogy, any Meg Cabot book!
- One piece of writing wisdom you would pass on.
Ignore the people who don’t believe in your dream. Let the looks on their faces spur you to be better. Some people said I didn’t have enough experience to be a writer, but writing is a craft, and you can develop the skill no matter how much ‘experience’ you have of the world. Besides, there’s no age limit or age requirement for an imagination.
- Finally, where can we get your book?
You can purchase a copy through the publisher Chamber Press’s website if you do not live in America, or Amazon when it becomes available online.