The YA Collective

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At Scribblers Festival we love to see young people developing their talents and engaging with creative professionals. At this year’s Festival, a group of fantastic youth curators were invited to program a full day of sessions for an audience of over 200 YA fiction fans.  These rising stars also led the panel discussions, chaired Q&A sessions and interviewed guest authors. Here are their reviews of the YA Collective sessions.

When Hollywood Comes to Call – Who Calls the Shots?

Neal Shusterman and AJ Betts

Reviewed by Eva Mustapic and Summer Allen

Neal Shusterman and AJ Betts sat down and discussed their dealings and interactions with Hollywood regarding their work. They had very different experiences with Hollywood; where Neal discussed the excitement of having his book auctioned to five different parties, Amanda talked about her shock, having not been involved in the process, to find out her book had been adapted and filmed for TV, and was already beginning to air. They talked about the ups and downs of having a book adapted for the screen, Amanda quickly summing up one of the first points that comes to mind: "People ask 'aren't you afraid of having your book ruined?' Well, no, they can't ruin it, it's already written." Neal added on to this, saying "I like to look at the entertainment industry as promotion for the book."

Both authors also discussed the importance of an agent,likening the book industry to real estate.

The panel had a wonderful casual atmosphere, and the audience questions at the end were interesting and varied. It was a great success, and everyone had a great time.


How to be The Ruler of Your Own Universe: The Art Of The Paracosm.

Lynette Noni, Celine Kiernan and Dhonielle Clayton

Reviewed by Oscar Sweet

The second session of the 2019 YA Collective was abuzz with energy and excitement. This session, featuring Lynette Noni, Celine Kiernan and Dhonielle Clayton was packed. The theme of the session was about what it’s like, and how to create, entirely new and exciting worlds, and these three fantasy authors know what they’re talking about.

When asked about setting limits, especially when creating magic in their worlds, the three authors agreed on one thing: there has to be limits. Lynette, Celine and Dhonielle all agreed that magic without limits is boring, and Celine added to it by saying,“You need to establish the rules early on. You lose your readers trust if it’s sloppy and undefined.”

The authors were then asked about the biggest advantages and disadvantages of creating worlds, especially fantasy ones with magic. Lynette Noni said, “The real world can’t be changed,and I find it annoying when writing in an unchangeable place, I have to obey the position of things, whereas in my own worlds, I can do whatever I want. I love creating my own worlds.”

The session was full of knowledge and experience, alive with excitement. It was an awesome experience to help organise and witness the entire thing. I will wrap up this review with a very wise quote from Dhonielle Clayton: “Quokkas forever.”


Scribblers YA Collective Session Review: Writers Who Are Keeping It Real.

Neal Shusterman and Renée Watson

Reviewed by Oscar Sweet

Writers Who Are Keeping It Real focused on those authors and books who delve into the real world. Neal Shusterman and Renée Watson discussed coming of age stories, writing what you know as well as heavier topics such as racism and climate change.

Shusterman had a very interesting definition of coming of age stories: “Coming of age stories are stories where characters realise they have to solve their own problems.”Shusterman also impressed the importance of research, saying that he and his son, with their book Dry, “did a lot of research” saying that it helped create the most real story possible.

Renée had her own wisdom on writing, saying: “Write what you know and have questions about.” She also talked about how setting is a large part of a story, not just a back drop: “I play on setting to impact my characters.”

Neal Shusterman, whose latest book, Dry, is about what would happen if water ran out in southern California, said: “I want to make you conscious of all the water you use… nothing will change until we are all conscious about how precious water is and how climate change matters because of its role in that preciousness.”

Renée’s perspective on racism and under representation came from personal experience: “I grew up reading books and watching T.V that never had anyone that looked like me. I began to think there was something wrong with me. It’s very important to see yourself in books and media, which is what I try to do with my books.”

Keeping it Real was a session that explored some very important themes and gave us some solid writing advice from two writers with a wealth of knowledge in writing realism.


Me Two  

AJ Betts and Lynette Noni

Reviewed by Jacki Elezovich

This session was an insightful discussion on the pressures and expectations attached to writing sequels, as well as talking about how online feedback can both help and hinder an author. Both authors agreed that writing a sequel can definitely be easier and more fun than writing the first book in a series at times,because the author is stepping back into familiar territory, or as Lynette Noni puts it, “it’s like you’re painting on a canvas you’ve already seen. You already know the colours and the patterns, now you’re just making it bigger,letting it grow.” However, both Amanda and Lynette also groaned in frustration when talking about the constraints of staying true to the first book when writing a sequel, something we imagine would become quite difficult to keep track of! The conversation shifted to audience expectations from sequels after reading the first book in a continuing series, and receiving online feedback,where Amanda told the audience, “we’re real people! We didn’t sign up to be public figures, we signed up to write stories! So please be aware that most of us writers have human emotions and aren’t trained at taking negative comments to our faces! But on the other hand, it’s so great to meet people because we spend so much time alone with our self-doubt.” Overall, this session was both honest and informative, and the audience learned a lot about carrying on a much-loved story in a second book.