Book People: Nova Weetman

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My first ‘Book People’ for 2018 is someone I have long wanted to chat with, Nova Weetman. Though she has been writing for literary magazines and television for many years now,  Weetman burst onto the children’s/YA literary scene just a few years ago with the astonishing (little scary for me #wimp) ‘The Haunting of Lily Frost’. She has since followed this up with ‘Frankie and Joely’ and ‘Everything Has Changed’ – both YA novels which blew my little librarian mind and which I constantly recommend to teen readers.

One of the greatest strengths in Weetman’s writing is the relationships she creates between characters, they are friendships so real and raw that you cannot help but become deeply connected to their lives.  When you walk through your day worrying about book characters and waiting until your next opportunity to see what is happening for them you know you’ve struck writing gold and the fact that her books have been nominated for a slew of literary awards is no surprise. It’s rare for me to finish books in a single sitting; despite reviewing books ‘for a living’ (by ‘for a living’ I mean voluntarily!) I’m actually a ridiculously slow reader. ‘Everything Has Changed’ affected me so deeply that I read it through an entire night and the two middle grade ‘Clem novels’ I pretty much read from cover to cover and barely drew a breath. I still often think about Clem, she is one of my favourite book charaters ever and I hope to meet her again one day in another Nova Weetman book.

‘The Secrets We Keep’ and ‘The Secrets We Share’ are superb middle-grade reads and introduce us to the life of Clem, her family and friends. Clem Timmins is at that awkward age, not yet a teen, not really a child. She is most comfortable in old and slightly daggy leggings and her Converse and she has some great friends, but also a terrible web of secrets in her personal life. Both novels are bound to end up being studied in schools, and there is extensive teaching notes for both on the UQP website, but they also giftable, must-read books for readers from 10+ and as I write this I’m thinking I’ll order them both for my niece who started high school this week – she’d love Clem. ‘The Secrets We Share’ and ‘The Secrets We Keep’ are full to the brim with beautifully gentle, wise and timely advice for young people, wrapped up in sophisticated writing and an engaging narrative.

To purchase any of these books click on title links or cover images. To purchase from local Brisbane independent bookstore, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, click on the ad below.

I have a thing for cover design and ‘The Secrets We Keep’ and ‘The Secrets We Share’ have the best covers, and when put side by side my little librarian heart just flutters with pure joy…just look at them would you?

Thank you Nova for joining us here today and being part of my Book People series. To see the other 100+ Book People interviews, see here

  1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, ‘The Secrets We Share is the sequel to ‘The Secrets We Keep‘, which came out last year. The latest book starts about six months after the end of the first. It begins as protagonist Clem Timmins is preparing to start high school with her two best friends. It’s a book about transitions, about being on the cusp, and about how to find your place when you’re feeling like you don’t belong.

  1. How did you get started as a writer?

Much of my childhood was spent writing stories on an old black typewriter. I wanted to be Agatha Christie and carried a prop box of possible weapons with me everywhere I went. (Creepy I know!)

I had a great teacher in primary school and another at secondary school who both encouraged me to write. My high school English teacher sent a piece of writing I’d done to a newspaper and it was published. That sort of secured my fate!

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?

During the week I walk my son to school and then walk to my studio which is exactly half way between home and primary school. I usually try and write a certain number of words before allowing myself to head downstairs for a coffee. My studio is above a great café and it’s a constant distraction! At the moment I’m writing two books, and working on a kids television show so my days are spent juggling love-jobs and money-jobs.

  1. Can you describe your workspace for us?

I rent a desk space in a large open-plan art studio. There are about twenty other artists working there too. Some are filmmakers, some are documentary makers, and some are writers. My desk is shoved away behind a petition and nobody really notices me which is great! I face the wall which is usually covered in scribbled notes to remind me to do things. There is nothing much for me to do in my studio except work. It’s perfect really because if I’m at home I’m endlessly distracted!

  1. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Read as much as you can, as widely as you can.

And if you want to be a writer, just remember that every book you read has been through numerous drafts, and had at least one editor, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

  1. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?

This is such a hard question! So many books!! I’m going to cheat and choose more than one.

Anne from ‘Anne of Green Gables’ is my favourite classic character. Clem Timmins from ‘The Secrets We Share’ is my favourite character that I have created. And my favourite book is ‘Came Back to Show You I Could Fly’ by Robin Klein. If you haven’t read it, then do.

{Megan interrupting here: Oh my GLORY I could not agree more. Not with Anne, was never really a fan myself, mainly because my sister adored her so that was enough to put me off her, but ‘Came Back to Show You I Could Fly’ I read at about 14 and I still remember how that book made me feel, it is an astonishing YA novel which has well and truly stood the test of time…Sorry Nova…back to you}

  1. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

I actually did a Psychology Degree many years back so if I hadn’t ended up writing books, I would have liked to work in schools as a counsellor.

  1. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?

I never listen to music while I’m writing. I can just about tolerate other people talking but that’s about all the noise I can cope with!

Food however is a different story. I often eat lunch while I’m working. And I frequently have a bag of jelly snakes tucked into my desk that I nibble on if I’m having a tricky writing day. There’s also usually an empty coffee cup nearby.

  1. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

I think all my characters probably have a little of me in them. Maybe I write the alternate me – the me I’d like to be if I were young again. I also rip off facts and details from people’s lives all the time. My daughter is the inspiration for the character of Clem and while they aren’t they same, they do share many traits.

  1. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

Ten more wishes so I could really sort things out.

Thank you Nova. Megan

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