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Inside the Australian book industry

Oz YA under the spotlight

In this newsletter, we shine a spotlight on Australian young adult (YA) fiction. In our profile, we speak to literary agent, editor and YA advocate Danielle Binks about the state of Australian YA publishing. In bestsellers, we take a look at the top-selling YA books in Australia in August (including an anthology of short stories by some of Australia’s best-loved YA authors, edited by Binks). And in award-winners, we highlight the shortlist for the Centre for Youth Literature’s Inky Awards, uniquely chosen by a panel of teen judges. This year the judges have shortlisted five Australian YA novels, including several previous award-winners, such as Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow (Hachette), Claire Zorn’s One Would Think the Deep (University of Queensland Press) and Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue (Pan Macmillan).

Andrea Hanke
Think Australia

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Era Publications launches children’s reader series in China

Era Publications, a family owned educational publisher with a focus on English-language teaching, has partnered with Chinese publisher New Century Publishing to publish 1.7 million copies of its ‘WINGS’ children’s reader series in China. Launched at the Beijing International Book Fair, the partnership will see print and digital English-language editions of its ‘WINGS’ series sold into state schools across China for English classes.

Hardie Grant Egmont has acquired world rights to four books in a new adventure series by Sydney bookseller and debut author Jeremy Lachlan following a ‘hotly contested auction’. The adventure series, which is tentatively titled the ‘Jane Doe’ chronicles, is pitched as ‘Narnia meets Mad Max’ for readers aged 11 and up. It follows a ‘feisty teenager as she plunges into a deadly labyrinth between worlds to try to rescue her dad before an “exquisitely vile” villain gets to him first’.

Scholastic Australia has acquired world rights to a new middle-grade fantasy trilogy by historical-fiction author Kelly Gardiner. ‘The Fire Watcher Chronicles’ is a ‘time-slip’ trilogy about a young Londoner, Kit, who is living through the Blitz during World War II, but who also travels back to the Great Fire of London, the Viking invasion of Britain, and the arrival of Boudica and her armies in Roman London. The trilogy was negotiated by Danielle Binks at Jacinta di Mase Management.

Text Publishing has acquired world rights to a new novel by award-winning YA author Vikki Wakefield, which explores the cycle of ‘generational poverty, neglect and abuse’. Youth centres on 16-year-old Nate McKee, a ‘third-generation welfare legacy in a system without a safety net’, who is forced to choose between ‘belonging and resistance’.

Other recent rights sales of Australian books include:

Picture books

  • Allen & Unwin has sold Slovenian, Chinese, French, Turkish, German, Polish and Japanese translation rights to Do Not Lick This Book (Idan Ben-Barak & Julian Frost)—a ‘funny, interactive picture book that introduces children to the strange, unseen world of microbes’.

Younger readers

  • MidnightSun Publishing has sold Swedish rights to Allayne L Webster’s middle-grade novel A Cardboard Palace to B. Wahlströms Bokförlag. The novel ‘follows the struggle of a young boy, Jorge, to escape a life of thievery and poverty in modern Paris’, and is ‘well-suited to the international stage’, says publishing director Anna Solding.

Young adult

  • Black Inc. has sold UK and Commonwealth (ex ANZ) rights to Alice Pungs’ award-winning YA novel Laurinda to Legend Press. It tells the story of a scholarship girl who encounters a new world of privilege at an exclusive girls school.
  • Penguin Random House Australia has licensed Portuguese language rights in Morris Gleitzman’s bestselling Once and its sequel Then, which follow a young Jewish boy’s attempts to save his parents from the Nazis.


  • Penguin Random House Australia has licensed North American rights in the forthcoming How to Feel Awesome Everyday—‘jam-packed with journal pages, advice, D.I.Ys, recipes and all sorts of rad activities’—by Australian vlogger and presenter Elly Awesome.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.

One Would Think the Deep cover

CBCA Book of the Year Awards announced

The winners of the prestigious Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards have been announced. They include: One Would Think the Deep (Claire Zorn, University of Queensland Press) for older readers; Rockhopping (Trace Balla, Allen & Unwin) for younger readers; Go Home, Cheeky Animals! (Johanna Bell, illus by Dion Beasley, Allen & Unwin) for early childhood; and Home in the Rain (Bob Graham, Walker Books) for picture books.

The Centre for Youth Literature has announced the shortlists for the Inky Awards for young adult literature. The shortlisted books for the Gold Inky for Australian YA, selected by a panel of teen judges, are: Frankie (Shivaun Plozza, Penguin), The Bone Sparrow (Zana Fraillon, Hachette), My Sister Rosa (Justine Larbalestier, Allen & Unwin), Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley, Pan Macmillan) and One Would Think the Deep (Claire Zorn, University of Queensland Press).


Introducing #LoveOzYA

Several years ago a group of Australian YA authors and supporters launched the grassroots campaign #LoveOzYA to promote Australian YA books in a market dominated by US titles. Think Australian asked literary agent, editor and youth literature advocate Danielle Binks about the current state of Aussie YA.

Can you give examples of Australian YA novels that have found success overseas?

We’ve actually coined a hashtag to keep track of those books that specifically come out in North America! #LoveOzYAInUSA

Will Kostakis is one of Aussie YA’s most beloved authors. He got his first book deal with Penguin when he was a high-school senior, and his second book The First Third won the Gold Inky Award, which is the only book award of its type in Australia with the winner being chosen by teen readers. Will’s third book The Sidekicks will be his first released in the US—with rave reviews from the likes of Jennifer Niven and Laurie Halse Anderson!

Claire Zorn’s The Protected (University of Queensland Press) has received a star-review in Kirkus, which said: ‘Zorn treats the issue of bullying with brutal realism.’ It’s such a gut-punch of necessary reading.

Erin Gough’s Get it Together, Delilah! is about a lesbian teen struggling to balance school, work, life and love—and I loved this book when it came out in Australia as The Flywheel (Hardie Grant Egmont) in 2015 after winning an unpublished-manuscript prize.

Finally, Carole Wilkinson’s ‘Dragonkeeper’ series (Walker Books) is set to take China by storm—with an animated film, produced between Spain and China, currently being filmed. It’s set in ancient China during the Han dynasty, the novel centres on a slave girl named Ping who journeys across the country with the last imperial dragon while pursued by a ruthless hunter.

Can you recommend any Australian YA spec-fiction?

Alison Goodman’s ‘Lady Helen’ series (HarperCollins). These books are like Jane Austen does Buffy—so good!

Justin Woolley’s ‘The Territory’ series. Book one, A Town Called Dust (Pan Macmillan), has the tagline: ‘Stranded in the desert, the last of mankind is kept safe by a large border fence… Until the fence falls.’ And there are rumours this climate-thriller will be made into a movie.

There’s also the blockbuster YA title The Undercurrent by Paula Weston (Text Publishing), about a girl who is literally a live-wire, who has to go on the run when an experimental privatised military unit comes after her and the power she holds.

Also look out for forthcoming 2018 YA title Borderland by debut Indigenous author Graham Akhurst (Hachette). This is a noir eco-thriller that pulls on recent environmental activism events like the Dakota Access pipeline and Adani coal-mine protest, and puts a creepy sci-fi spin on the question ‘who is the true owner of our land?’

What makes Australian YA unique?

I think it all comes down to the unique way we see the world and our position in it. As I’ve been touring Australia talking about the short-story anthology designed to show off our local youth literature Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (HarperCollins), I’ve been talking about the way our politics in particular shapes our stories. Australia’s treatment and reactions to asylum seekers and refugees, for instance, plays a big role in a lot of our sci-fi and fantasy titles. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s ‘The Illuminae Files’ is all about displaced persons in outer-space; the epistolary novel is narrated by ‘fake news’ and the unreliable-narrator of the book is the government itself. Melina Marchetta’s high-fantasy ‘The Lumatere Chronicles’ (Penguin) is about a kingdom that is burnt to the ground and its people left without a state, left to wander the land looking for a new home.

But as for what else makes us unique? I think that we really are a patchwork, and you can’t really pin down any one thing that summarises us—because we’re so disparate. We’re still such a young country, built on the backbone of multiculturalism and we embrace that in our stories too.

How would you like to see the #LoveOzYA campaign spread to international readers?

Of course, it’d be nice if we got a few more blockbuster movies and TV shows under our belt! Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (Pan Macmillan) just won big at the Emmys, Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones (Allen & Unwin) has now been turned into a successful stage-play and film, and Benjamin Law’s The Family Law TV adaptation is probably the most honest and brutally funny slice of Australiana to ever be made. Australian art and artists have so much to contribute, and we really do punch above our weight. I’d love for us to keep adapting and being adapted, to really have our voices heard on the international stage.


‘The Silent Invasion’ tops YA bestsellers chart

The Silent Invasion—the first book in a new YA dystopian trilogy from novelist James Bradley—is at the top of the Australian YA bestsellers chart for August. It’s followed by In the Dark Spaces, a ‘genre-smashing hostage drama’ from debut novelist Cally Black; Gap Year in Ghost Town, a ‘smart, funny and scary’ ghost-hunting adventure from prolific spec-fiction author Michael Pryor; Akarnae, the first book in Lynette Noni’s ‘Medoran Chronicles’ fantasy series; and Take Three Girls, a story about female friendship by three award-winning YA authors.

Australian YA bestsellers: August

  1. The Silent Invasion (James Bradley, Pan Macmillan)
  2. In the Dark Spaces (Cally Black, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  3. Gap Year in Ghost Town (Michael Pryor, Allen & Unwin)
  4. Akarnae (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)
  5. Take Three Girls (Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood & Simmone Howell, Pan Macmillan)
  6. Once and Then (Morris Gleitzman, Penguin)
  7. The Ones That Disappeared (Zana Fraillon, Hachette)
  8. Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (ed by Danielle Binks, HarperCollins)
  9. The Road to Winter (Mark Smith, Text Publishing)
  10. Draekora (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)

© Nielsen BookScan 2017
Period covered: 30 July to 2 September 2017
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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