Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 24, 2017

Meet an Aussie Author: Danielle Binks

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might remember from 2015 a snippet of news about the #LoveOzYA campaign and a follow-up post later that year? It is now my pleasure to introduce readers to the driving force behind it… along with some very exciting news about a new initiative to support Australian writing.

Danielle Binks is a book-blogger, writer, freelance arts media commentator, youth literature advocate, literary agent with Jacinta di Mase and – most recently – she has edited and contributed to the just-released ‘YA event of the year’ titled…

*drumroll*

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology

I’ve varied the usual Meet an Aussie Author format so that Danielle can tell the story of #LoveOZYA and the publication of the anthology…

Q: What is the hashtag, #LoveOzYA?

A: It’s a grassroots movement – #LoveOzYA = ‘Love Australian Young Adult Literature’

Q: What was the grassroots movement in response to?

A: It all started in 2015, when the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) surveyed public libraries to find out the list of Top Ten Most Borrowed Books.

There were lists for Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Children’s and Young Adult (YA) – and in all but one category, there was an even-split of five international authors and five Australian. Except on the YA list, which was dominated by American authors and featured only two Australian. And the American YA books listed were all bolstered by film and television adaptations and tie-ins – basically, MEGA international marketing campaigns that our Aussie titles just weren’t competing with.

The Aussie YA community’s response was the creation of #LoveOzYA — a hashtag coined to harness the conversation, and talk about our love of Australian young adult literature, and to champion our stories.

The hashtag and grassroots movement eventually transformed into an official website – loveozya.com.au – and then HarperCollins came along and decided to pay tribute to the campaign with a book.

Q: Is #LoveOzYA about stopping reading all international books, and just reading Australian-lit?

A: Not at all! #LoveOzYA was born from readers and writers and all who love Australia’s national youth literature, and YA generally! It was not born out of patriotism or a rejection of international voices — far from it. #LoveOzYA has been about the inclusion of voices.

Basically, we want Aussie teens to be able to see themselves on the shelf and on the page.  But right now there are about *nine* international titles, for everyone *one* Australian sold in the YA section of your typical bookshop … We hope to encourage teenagers to fall in love with their national youth literature, so that they grow into adult readers who seek out Australian stories and support local authors, and keep our books community thriving.

It has been a movement, as the name suggests, about love.

Q: So, what’s the #LoveOzYA Anthology about?

A: The Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology is a collection of ten original short stories, written by some of Australia’s best-loved YA authors – including Alice Pung, Jaclyn Moriarty, Amie Kaufman and Will Kostakis, to name a few!

It’s an anthology that spans genres – from contemporary to science fiction, magical realism and there’s even a time-travel tale thrown in! We wanted to show all that Aussie YA has to offer, and that it can be as BIG, BOLD and MARVELLOUS as anything that American blockbusters can produce. Hence the rather cyclical title invoking beginnings and endings, to highlight our own momentum and re-imagining .

At the launch: Lili Wilkinson, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Michael Pryro, Danielle Binks, and Amie Kaufman (Photo credit: @cakeandmadness, who also made the cake!)

Even our beautiful cover-art was created by local Australian typography troupe, ‘The Letterettes’ – and one of their calligraphers, Kate Pullen. So the whole book really is an ode to the Australian creative industries, in many ways.

Not only does the Anthology help spread the message of the grassroots campaign, about supporting Australia’s youth literature (and in many ways, linking back to ‘Books Create Australia’ too) – but the short-story collection is perfect for “reluctant readers”, time-poor students, and this ‘Begin, End, Begin’ (with its kaleidoscope of stories) is also encouraging teens to read outside their genre comfort-zones and discover new voices.

In that sense … it’s also the perfect read for adults, and all who love Australian stories and our books communities!

Q: Tell us a bit more about you, as the Anthology editor

A: Well, I’ve been a book-blogger since 2009 – when I started ‘Alpha Reader’, also known as “my solo book club.” I studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT, and for two years I was a ‘Kill Your Darlings’ online journal contributor, writing all about youth literature.

Last year I was invited to join Jacinta di Mase Management, as a literary agent seeking out young adult and middle grade authors (those writing for 8-12 year-olds). I consider myself very lucky that I’m getting the opportunity to contribute to the #LoveOzYA of the future with this unique role, finding the books that Aussie teens will (hopefully) be falling love with for years to come, just as I did when I was a young reader consuming the likes of Melina Marchetta and John Marsden …

YA has always been my reading home, even after I technically “aged out” of the readership – I’ve always found it’s an area of publishing with the most rapid change and exciting intersections of audience and industry.

I refer to myself as a “youth literature advocate”, someone who loves YA but understand it’s primarily for teens and they should be respected, and encouraged to embrace the books that are for them. Which is why I was so honoured when HarperCollins invited me to edit ‘Begin, End, Begin’ – offering me another opportunity to talk about #LoveOzYA and supporting our national youth literature … and also, to be the “emerging voice” contributor to the Anthology. I feel like I’m being given the opportunity to give back to the community that embraced and shaped me, turning me into a reader for life.

The ‘Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology’ (HarperCollins, 2017, ISBN 9781460752319) is edited by Danielle Binks, and includes stories from young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks herself.

Available from Fishpond: Begin, End, Begin: A #Loveozya Anthology
and all good bookshops – and there’s a limited, foil-edition available from all Dymocks Bookstores.

You can find out more about Danielle and follow her reviews and other YA news at Alpha Reader.


Responses

  1. Well this is fabulous. I don’t have any young adults in my home and I don’t read much of it myself but, as you know Lisa, I am passionate about Australians having access to works that showcase the Australian voice. Well done, Danielle Binks and thanks for this post. I have just noticed the LoveOzYA hashtag in the past couple of days so it was perfect timing.

    • Yes, that’s what I think too. And what I have read of it has been pretty good. I particularly liked Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood and Jared Thomas’s Calypso Summer and Songs That Sound Like Blood.

    • Yes, I agree karenlee. I think this is one of the reasons I so loved John Marsden’s books when my kids were of the age. He spoke/speaks to Australians yet I’m sure could be easily read by YAs elsewhere.

      Nice interview Lisa. And I particularly liked the bit about Danielle herself and her career trajectory.

      • She’s a powerhouse, isn’t she!

  2. I’ve YAs to buy for. I need a list.

    • Well, I have got 28 posts tagged YA on this site… but have a look at loveozya.com.au and Danielle’s blog, she’s reviewed heaps of books there.

      • Sorry, I commented in haste while picking up YA from circus school. So: great interview, love her enthusiasm. You’re right, I didn’t think to check your YAs (it’s a long way down). Looked at loveozya on the phone, will try again tomorrow on a real computer. Will also check out Danielle’s blog and Begin End Begin.

        • You’re right too, my RHS menu is very long, especially now that I have succumbed to a request and added the novel settings category!

  3. This is wonderful, :-)

  4. Those Aussie YA authors should be in raptures about this initiative

    • Yes indeed, is there anything like it in the UK or Ghana?

      • There are a few prizes specifically for ‘children’s literature which also encompasses young adult but i’ve not heard of any initiative comparable to the one you’ve described. It might exist though, just I don’t know about it because I dont pay an awful lot of attention to YA

        • There are so many initiatives everywhere, it’s hard to keep track of them all…


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