I'm delighted to welcome an awesome Aussie author to the blog today, from my neck of the woods, to help celebrate the release of their new #OwnVoices YA!
I've got my copy!
Anna lives in Brisbane with her family, two dogs, and two rescue guinea pigs. She has always worked in literature and education, and holds a PhD in young adult fiction. Now, Anna is an ‘own voices’ author, proudly autistic, with ADHD and sensory processing disorder.
At sixteen, neurodivergent Peta Lyre is the success story of social training. That is, until she finds herself on a school ski trip - and falling in love with the new girl. Peta will need to decide which rules to keep, and which rules to break…
'I'm Peta Lyre,' I mumble. Look people in the eye if you can, at least when you greet them. I try, but it's hard when she is smiling so big, and leaning in.Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn't designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist's rules for 'normal' behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention.
When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta's carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all.
When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal?
A moving and joyful own voices debut.
'Honest, perceptive and gutsy; I loved tuning into Peta's world.' -- Emily Gale
Who are you and what do you write?
I'm Anna Whateley, and I write #Ownvoices YA fiction, and potentially children's stories in the future!
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I wrote in diaries a lot as a child, but then nothing for many years. Two years ago I found myself unable to continue paid work due to disability and care needs of my children, and took up narrative fiction. Now here we are!
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
I've had an easy journey compared to most, though it's all capitalising on a strange life and many years studying literature as an academic. I wrote Peta Lyre's Rating Normal because I'd booked an editor session at the CYA Conference in Brisbane - but I didn't have a manuscript! I really needed the strict deadline, and I'd recently heard the call for more own voices work. I put my fantasy writing aside, and wrote Peta Lyre very quickly, tapping into parts of myself I hadn't listened to in a long time. Her voice was natural and her world flowed. I took it to the conference and pitched widely. Danielle Binks signed me up as a result, and we garnered some publisher interest. I chose Allen & Unwin, and they turned out to be the perfect match! They've been wonderful, and nurtured Peta Lyre as closely as family would. All in all, it will be two years from writing to release, and I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to be. I feel lucky, though I worked hard, too.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest part has been juggling family life and my disabilities. That's not a new problem though! Also perhaps knowing what's expected of me. As a neurodivergent person, I really like to get things right and follow the guidelines. Those don't always exist, so again, I'm grateful my publishers are willing to answer questions, and be gentle with my anxiety. The most enjoyable thing is everything else. I love writing, editing, and the whole process. The community of #LoveOzYA writers is strong and I couldn't imagine my life without them now. Events are always engaging and inspiring, even when they move online in a time of crisis.
Would you go back and change anything?
I'd maybe write down the dates of everything I did in *one place* to understand my own journey better. I have ADHD, and my understanding of time is... problematic! I use file creation dates a lot, and emails I've sent and received, to piece it all together. I wouldn't change anything about Peta Lyre though.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
Hahaha, I tend not to look too far ahead. But I guess I'd like to publish more books, and in different genres. I love new puzzles to solve, and each genre and format is a new puzzle. I'd love to see more neurodivergent representations, so mine was one of many for young readers to choose from. For that to happen I need to keep the market interested, and readers asking for more.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Write from the heart, and face your own pain. If you side step, the work will lack depth. It's only with courage that we can write the authentic emotional moments that readers need.
And, most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Both, not together.
Night or Day? - Twilight?
Inside or Outside? - Inside. Or a beach.
Dogs or Cats? - Dogs
Twitter or Facebook? - TWITTER
Ebook or Paperback? - Both
Sun or Rain? - Rain, always.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? - Musical... I suck at this.
Chips or Chocolate? - Chips. Hot chips dipped in ice cream.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!