Sunday, February 24, 2008
There's Something In The Water
I've wanted to visit Australia since, like, forever. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to go down under to meet the kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. They have the spectacular natural phenomena of the Great Barrier Reef (the picture above is of an adorably heart-shaped barrier island), Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), and the wild and deadly Outback. Populated by surfers, crocodile hunters, Crocodile Dundee, and the descendants of the exiled criminals of Georgian England, it just has to be a supercool place. (Okay, maybe Crocodile Dundee doesn't support my argument.) Everything about the continent/country seems exotic.
These days, however, I have another reason for my fascination with Oz: the young adult literary connection. There is a wealth of talent springing from that quadrant of the Southern Hemisphere of late. Here's a limited and selective list of Aussie Authors.
1. Markus Zusak -- I detailed his talents (and his cuteness) in my Geeky Cute AuthorBoyz post last month, but he definitely deserves slot #1 on this list. The Book Thief author is a two-time Printz Award Honor winner, a Sydney native and an avid surfer.
2. Garth Nix -- This Melbourne-born bestselling author has penned more than twenty novels, most notably the Old Kingdom, Keys to the Kingdom, and Seventh Tower fantasy series for teens. He has millions of books in print.
3. Justine Larbalastier -- Justine is the award-winning author of the Magic or Madness trilogy and the awesome-sounding-upcoming How To Ditch Your Fairy (Bloomsbury, September 2008), keeper of an enthralling blog, and (quite notably, but not most importantly) the wife of superstar author Scott Westerfeld (also see Geeky Cute AuthorBoyz post). She hails from Sydney, and now spends much time in NYC with the previously mentioned superstar author husband.
4. Jaclyn Moriarty -- I've save the best (in my completely biased opinion) for last. I am in awe of her amazing talent. You can read a few entries in her too-infrequently-updated blog (I recommend the Letters to Charlie) to get a delicious taste of her style. Then you can go buy the Year of Secret Assignments and the Murder of Bindy Mackenzie to get the full flavor. She is a genius. I can but hope to aspire to her talent. (Though I do wish she would get a proper website or MySpace so I could obsessively emulate her in every way.)
There are, of course, dozens (or perhaps dozens of dozens) other fantastic authors born of or residing in Australia. My agency sister, Amanda Ashby, comes to mind (she lives in New Zealand now, but was born in Oz), as well as Printz award nominee Judith Clarke. And England-born author Sara Hantz almost qualifies (she lives in New Zealand which I'm sure is a completely separate country, but from the other side of the globe it seems pretty darn close). These are all my exhausted mind can come up with this week. Who have I missed? Or is there another country with oodles of literary talent streaming into bookstores?
OH. MY. GODS. -- Dutton, May 2008