'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Look What I'm Reading! Zana Fraillon

Thanks for having me! I am an author of children’s and young adult books, and have had eleven books traditionally published so far, with another picture book due to be published next year. I have been lucky enough to win awards both in Australia and the UK. I love writing for young people. I love the way their minds are so open wide to possibilities and how ready they are to explore.

 Which children’s book are you currently reading?
This week has been a huge reading week for me! It started with Danielle Binks’s debut MG book The Year the Maps Changed, then to Nation by Terry Pratchett, followed by a Sonia Hartnett book – Thursday's Child. That was sold as YA, but I actually feel is it more of an adult book, and last night I started reading Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller.

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
Ghost Bird is about twin sisters living in a remote Australian community. When one of the sisters goes missing, the remaining twin starts dreaming of what has happened to her.

How much did you enjoy/are enjoying this title?
I have only just started reading, but I am hooked! I love the intertwining of real and possibly imaginary, the family and cultural stories handed down and how they are eeking into the everyday, and the voice of the character is wonderfully strong and appealing.

What made you choose this title? Was it a review, advertising, the cover, the blurb, the author/illustrator, or the subject/genre?
I saw Ghost Bird recommended on Twitter by a friend whose reading advice hasn’t yet led me wrong. And as soon as I looked up the blurb, I phoned my local bookshop to set a copy aside for me. It promises excitement, mystery, and hinted at magical realism which is a genre I love. I was also excited to read a new YA voice on the scene.

What other titles are on your bedside table /To Read Pile?
It is a very large pile at the moment! I have just started a PhD, so a lot of the books are non-fiction – The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben; The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane; and A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. Then I have the fiction pile! Everything Under by Daisy Johnston, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, The Way We Roll by Scott Gardner and Night Waking by Sarah Moss are a few of the ones on the top of the pile, along with a handful more by Terry Pratchett (I am a relatively new fan...). And then there is my writing craft pile! I have a couple of books on writing by Urusula La Guin, and two more by Terry Pratchett, as well as my old favourite by Margaret Atwood called Negotiating with the Dead, which has to be one of the greatest titles for a writing craft book that has ever been written.

How did you come by these titles: personal choice/request, publisher’s review copy, or other?
All of the titles mentioned there are personal choice, or were books recommended to me by someone (although I do have a couple of ARCs waiting to be read too!). A few I heard mentioned on podcasts with authors I admire, or after hearing an interview with the author themselves.

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
I love magical realism, and always have. The way the lines between what we know and what we don’t know blur, the surprising direction stories can take, the fantastical and the real overlapping – all of it! I find it a very exciting genre to read, and it has definitely influenced my own writing. The first author I read in this genre was Isabelle Allende, and she was writing about serious issues and politics, and what struck me was that the same seriousness was given to the magical elements. She took the magic seriously, and that is what makes it work.

Do you read from printed books or some other medium? Please expand a little on the why of your choice.
If I could choose, I would always go printed. I love the tactile sense of holding a book in my hands, the smell of the pages, the heaviness of the book in my bag. Also, when I read I am often book-marking pages for myself – when there is a particularly beautiful turn of phrase, or a subject that I want to investigate further, I will dog ear the bottom corner of the page so I can go back to it and think about it a bit more. And although there is the bookmark function on a kindle/ipad/etc I find it not nearly as easily accessible to go back and find again. (Having said that, I am sure that is probably in all likelihood, much easier on a device...)

However! The wonderful thing about using a device to read on, is how quickly you can have the text in front of you. I use a kindle a lot for my PhD, purely because otherwise I would have to wait days or weeks to have the book in my hand.