#LoveOzYA Author Q&A With A B Endacott
Alice has independently published six young adult fantasy books under the name A B Endacott. When not reading or writing, she is contributing to The Nerd Daily about all things pop culture or spending time with her cats (and thus slowly morphing into a crazy cat lady). She passionately believes that books have the capacity to change people for the better. Alice is also a LoveOzYA Committee member and we’re very excited to celebrate the release of her new book Dark Heart (Book 3 in the Dark Trilogy) this month.
Welcome to the LoveOzYA blog, we’re so happy to have you here!
Let’s go back to the beginning…have you been telling stories since you were a kid or was writing something you fell in love with as an adult?
Look, it’s a total cliché, which is particularly ironic that writers try to avoid them, but I’ve been writing since I was six. When I realised age seven that people could get paid to write, I was astounded, and thrilled, and my path was more or less set. I moved away from writing a little bit as I came to the end of school, but I slipped back into it in in my early twenties, and I realised with a particular clarity that playing with words and writing makes me purely happy in a way that really, nothing else does.
Tell us about your new book.
Dark Heart is the conclusion to a trilogy – the first full books I wrote, actually (the others I’ve published are set in the same world but in separate series; although there is overlap, but I wrote them after). The series begins with Dark Intent, which presents us with our central character, Freya, who is a collaborator with the repressive regime governing her country, and she is forced to confront the choices that led her to this.
As the series progresses, she’s faced with different questions about who she wants to be, and what she will do in service to her goals and values.
It was actually inspired by a question I asked myself in the middle of a uni course on Middle Eastern politics: if Islamic State knocked on my door and said ‘live in exactly this way or we’ll do horrible things to you’, what would I do? Of course, the answer is I’d do what they said.
Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
I ripped through many books by Victor Kelleher (Into the Dark is a phenomenal retelling of the Dracula story) who I think has a real way with words, and works by the classic Isobelle Carmody.
I probably read a bit more MG than YA; Emily Rodda, Jackie French, and a series about a world where the sun has become too hot and people have become nocturnal except for a few who go out in search of stuff by daylight – if anybody can remember that series, please hit me up!
Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
Oh, everybody. My family are all big readers, and I found out as an adult that my father had a policy that he would never refuse me a book if I asked him for it…I did not take sufficient advantage of that!
But more importantly, I had fabulous teachers and librarians who put books in my eager hands.
What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?
I’ve read a lot of the LoveOzYA author interviews, so this response is definitely influenced by what those who’ve come before me have said!
Obviously, the Australian landscape is quite unique, so any story set in this country is going to be distinct in that regard.
But I think that Australian YA is quite unflinching; it examines and engages with some really significant and heavy themes and does so in a way that is nuanced, but doesn’t water it down and in so doing, patronise the teenagers who read these stories.
I also think that Australia is an incredibly diverse country, and this diversity is reflected in the authorship and stories of our YA.
Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?
I mean, if I see a bookshop, I’ll probably go into it. But Dymocks in Camberwell (my local Dymocks) are the best; they were the first store to stock me, and they are just so outrageously supportive. Plus, they have an amazing fantasy and sci-fi ranges, and they don’t conflate them like a lot of other stores do!
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
I just finished reading QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling, which will come out in English in January. It’s pretty funny and explains the net bubble in a really accessible manner.
Before that, I finished Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard, which is still in the forefront of my mind.
Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?
Mostly, woodwork. I post about it a fair bit on my Instagram. It’s a great way to get outside your own head, because working with very sharp, very fast machines requires absolute concentration.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
The best: read widely and read outside your genre. If you only read YA romance, you’ll only ever write a YA romance that is a patchwork of everything else. While I don’t love nonfiction, when I do read it, I often am struck by the efficiency of expression, and the way dry information is presented in an engaging way.
The worst: writing isn’t a real job. It’s also really hard to become an astrophysicist, but we don’t discourage people from pursuing that dream, so why should we do the same with writing?
What do you love about OzYA?
How much space do you have? We have an incredible community of people who are enthusiastic and supportive. While the smaller size of Australia can be a disadvantage in some ways, it also means that we are tightly-knit and have actual discussions and support, which is incredible.
I love the caustic wit in our stories that exists alongside the heartbreakingly tender depiction of difficult issues. I love the way we are proud of who we are and where we came from. I love that we are willing to admit that we were wrong and try to be better as we move forward. I love that we’re hilarious and unapologetically so. I love that we’re reflexive in our gaze. I love that we have such incredible talent that we nurture and jump up and down about. I love that even when I feel self-conscious about being independently published, so many people tell me that what I’ve done is great and exciting, and that pulls me from my cave of concern and gets me back to what I love the most: writing.