Questions I have been asked lately

These questions come from my email and from this blog. Cause I’m short on time I thought I’d just answer ’em all here:

Q: Don’t you think it’s wrong that Stephen King attacked Stephenie Meyer?

A: No, I don’t. I also don’t think he attacked her. Writers are allowed to not like other writers’ books. We’re even allowed to say so out loud. Saying you don’t think much of someone’s writing or their books is not an attack on them. Writers are not their books.

The only reason I don’t blog my opinion of books by living people is because I am a coward. Why I even got into trouble for admitting my hatred of Moby Dick and of a certain famous detective series. It’s not even safe to hate books by dead people!

Writers are crazy. And fans of writers are almost as lunatic. Truly. See what happens if you say anything against Angela Carter on my blog. Hint: I WILL KILL YOU DEAD.

Since I know just how bad we writers and fans are I do not engage. But I do not object to others’ bravery in doing so.

Sash asked: Sorry if you’ve already answered this somewhere, but are there any Brisbane appearances coming up??

A: No, there are no Brisbane events for me. You can find all my confirmed appearances here. I update it as soon as an event is confirmed. And I always announce any new appearances here on the blog.

I don’t choose where I go. All my appearances in Australia are organised by my wonderful publisher here, Allen & Unwin. My appearances in the US are organised by Bloomsbury. If you want me to appear in your town or city you need to bug them. Go to their websites and find the contact email address for publicity. Then write and tell them why you think I should go to your neck of the woods.

Q: I’m a published YA writer but many of my friends are literary writers and they sneer at me for writing YA. How can I get them to read my books and realise that YA is not crap?

A: You can’t. Just give up now. Nothing you can do or say will change their minds. Unless you start publishing capital L Literachure and win the Booker. And even then they’ll think it’s a fluke cause you’re really a YA writer. Or they’ll be impressed and congratulate you for finally having grown up as a writer.

What you really need is new friends. Preferably ones who read and write YA.

Jessica asked: “…the Australian press sometimes has a strange habit of always being about 15 years behind everyone else when it comes to realising that things like children’s books, graphic novels or genre fiction might actually have some validity or even readers.” I was curious about the Australian publishing industry in general. And since sometimes you talk about it (or Australian authors), I thought you’d be a good person to ask!

A: I guess my response would be: show me a mainstream press anywhere in the English-speaking world that’s realised that children’s books, graphic novels and genre fiction are important. The mainstream coverage of those areas is pretty woeful everywhere. I don’t think Australia’s any worse than the US or the UK. It’s just smaller and thus has less press so it probably looks from the outside like there’s less coverage. Thanks to Jason Nahrung The Courier Mail in Brisbane is especially good on covering all those areas.

Q: Are those birds on your blog real?

A: Yes.

Q: Whereabouts in Surry Hills are your new digs?

A: In the good part of Surry Hills where all the rainbow lorikeets are.

Ally asked: How easily are they [rainbow lorikeets] scared? (Like are they used to people)

A: They’re pretty used to people and being handfed. I don’t because there are signs all over the Botanical Gardens explaining why that’s a very bad idea.

Kelsey M. asked: Are you thinking of making the books [Magic or Madness trilogy] into movies?

A: Typically, writers do not make their own books into movies. I don’t know anything about how to make movies so I leave it to the experts. If a movie maker wanted to make my books into movies they’d have to negotiate with my agent for the right to do so. Currently no movie maker has been given the right to make a movie of the trilogy.

Q: From your blog it sounds like you’d prefer to stay in Australia and never go back to America. Is that true?

A: I cannot answer that question on the grounds that it will make my USian friends upset with me. Er, I mean, of course not. I am very lucky that I get to spend so much time in two such wonderful countries.

Q: Why aren’t you going on the Irish castle retreat with all those other YA writers. I thought some of them were your friends?

: Many of them are indeed friends of mine. I’m not going because I’ve heard the food in Ireland is really bad and that the castles are cold and damp. I fear that my friends will get pneumonia and die. If they haven’t already been killed by scurvy from eating nothing but potatoes.

No, I’m not jealous. Why would you suggest that? I’m sure they meant to invite me. The email probably got lost or something . . .


  1. Q on #

    I have to say, I’m jealous of your never-ever-having-winterish state at this point in time. To those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, now that Christmas is over, can we just skip to Spring, please?

  2. Jenny on #

    Justine! I was walking along the street the other day thinking about a question I wanted to ask you for a long time – I wonder if there is any chance you might answer it, on- or off-blog?!? It is this:

    I am not a clothes person – I see why nice ones are nice, but I hate shopping and really I just wear jeans and a cotton shirt every day. BUT your description in the opening pages of Magic or Madness of the pants that Tom makes for Reason is so good (and the pants are so much what I would like for myself!) that I cannot resist asking you – yes, I know that really they are the creation of his magic talent… – BUT do you think there is a store I could go to in New York where I could get an approximation of those pants?!?

  3. Alys on #

    I know you were just joking about getting scurvy from eating nothing but potatoes, but I am compelled to share an Amazing Fact with you:

    Potatoes are actually one of the most nutritious foods around! In fact, they really only lack vitamin A and vitamin D, both nutrients that are found in milk. So if you were to eat a steady diet of nothing by milk and potatoes, you would actually be quite healthy. Isn’t that fascinating? Scientific proof that cheesy mashed potatoes really are the best food choice ever!

  4. Nif on #

    Potatoes are what ended scurvy in Europe.

  5. Justine on #

    Alys & Nif: I can not believe you are throwing smelly facts in my face! It’s an OUTRAGE! I shall just hope that the potatoes served at their castle have the blight.

  6. Maggie Stiefvater on #

    Okay, first of all, I agree so much with the find new friends who write YA! Since I’ve been published, I’ve gotten the usual thousand repetitions of “so when are you writing adult?” — but not from my great YA writing friends. Yep, I’ve got my possey of peter-pan complex, never-growing-up literary types to back me up when I need it.

    Second of all, I figured I had to visit your blog today because I dreamt last night that I met you at a dinner party. I rehearsed saying your name several times (I expect this came from me listening to that teacher site where you had your last name’s said out loud), and proceeded to botch it in the dream, because I was apparently chewing gum (which I never do).

    So if we ever meet at BEA or ALA or something, and I’m chewing gum for some bizarre reason, kindly ask me to spit it out before I try to speak.

  7. Jolie on #

    “I’m a published YA writer but many of my friends are literary writers and they sneer at me for writing YA. How can I get them to read my books and realise that YA is not crap?”

    I’m a lit fic writer and recovering literary snob, so I can tell you from experience that it’s possible to get past this unfortunate mindset. For me, it happened very quickly once I got into the writing-publishing blogosphere and exposed myself to the variety of viewpoints it contains. You can sneakily do this for your litsnob friends by pointing them toward some fun, intelligent blogs written by people who work with or at least appreciate YA and other genres. But don’t tell them you’re doing it to change their minds; just say something like, “Hey, Blogger X wrote this awesome post on such-and-such topic, and I thought you might enjoy it.”

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