#LoveOzYA in the USA: Lynette Noni
#LoveOzYA in the USA is a series featuring questions and answers with Australian YA authors who have been published in the USA.
In this installment, the #LoveOzYA team spoke to author Lynette Noni about her book Whisper.
Is your American cover different to your Australian cover and if so, why?
Yes! Sometimes publishers use the same cover in different countries (or a similar cover), but other times they decide that a different approach altogether might be more appropriate for the respective market.
In the case of Whisper, my US publishers wanted their cover to convey an idea of what the book is about: we see a girl with her mouth closed and the title fading across it. The image is as striking as it is unsettling — which is perfect for this book.
My Australian publishers, however, wanted to focus less on the girl and more on what might be happening to her — on her isolation and solitude and the mystery of her surroundings.
I absolutely adore both covers, especially since they offer a sense of intrigue and pose the question: What is happening here?
Did you have any input into either cover?
I had a lot of input when it came to my ANZ cover, but I have been working with my Australian publishers for a number of years now and they’re known for being highly collaborative with their authors. They sent me a few different mock-ups to choose between, before we settled on one and then tweaked it until it was perfect.
I had less input with my US cover (which is pretty standard), but they were open to a few changes I suggested and they very much wanted me to be delighted with the final result.
What do you like/dislike about each of them?
I love that they’re both so different from each other, and yet both are perfect for Whisper. One focuses on the protagonist, the other on the mystery of her situation. I’m not usually a fan of faces being on book covers, but in the case of my US cover, the image is so effective that it really is captivating. The more I look at it, the more I love it. The same is true for my ANZ cover. And, even better, both will have so much more meaning after readers have finished the book!
Do you have a favourite LoveOzYA cover design or designer?
I’m so grateful for the designers that my Australian publishers use — XOU Creative. Along with Whisper, they’ve worked on all of my Medoran Chronicles books and never fail to deliver something incredibly stunning.
As for other LoveOzYA covers, gosh, there are SO MANY. But if I had to pick just one, I would have to say The Starbound Trilogy covers (written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner). Those covers are unbelievably stunning!
Is your book set in Australia? If so, how does your book signal to your readers that the setting and characters are Australian? Did you include any interesting references to landmarks, history or pop culture?
Unfortunately, I feel like answering this would be a spoiler, since we don’t find out where Whisper is set until about halfway through. (Until that point, the protagonist is imprisoned deep underground, and even she has no idea where she is.) But I will say that once the setting is revealed, there are some very obvious landmarks offered. *Winky face*
Are there any differences between the US and Australian edition besides the cover? Any slang that had to be removed, or scenes that wouldn't translate well to a US audience? If so, how did you feel about it?
There were actually a few interesting words that my agent and editor both flagged with question marks, such as ‘punnet’ (of strawberries) and ‘CBD’ (Central Business District). Apparently, these aren’t used in the US, so I had to get creative — especially with ‘punnet’ which ended up being changed to ‘pint’ (bizarre!). Moments like this during the editing process always fascinated me, and they still bring a smile to my face when I recall the head-scratching bafflement I felt.
What do you think makes #LoveOzYA unique, and what do you think US audiences may gain or experience by reading it?
#LoveOzYA is a supportive community that offers encouragement and acceptance to both readers and writers. In my opinion, it’s something that the world needs more of — and it’s also something they will gain with every word written in an Oz YA novel.
Australian authors have distinctive voices, and those voices need to be heard. There are so many stories brimming from within us, and we offer a perspective from a culture unlike any other in the world. Whether we’re writing a book set in Melbourne or set on another planet entirely, our characters deal with and grow through real, thoughtful, and impacting issues.
In a world where YA readers of all ages are desperate to escape from their own lives and disappear into a book, more than ever they need to know that there will be someone there, maybe going through something similar to them. Someone who will hold their hand until they’re ready to face their real life again, and who will stay with them beyond the pages. This is what Oz YA offers — something memorable, something encouraging, something real.
Name one US YA title/series you think Australians should read, and one Oz YA title/series (besides your own!) you think Americans should read.
Ahh, this is an impossible question! Honestly, there are so many, but if I absolutely have to pick, then for the US series, I’ll go with the first one that comes to mind: I’m actually a critique reader for Sarah J. Maas, so I feel like everyone needs to read her books (both her Throne of Glass series and her Court of Thorns and Roses series, which means I’m cheating a little on this question by naming both). Sarah has a unique way of stripping her characters down until they are raw and broken, before building them back up until you love them beyond compare. The fantasy worlds she creates and the twists and turns in her stories keep you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath and praying that somehow, some way, everything will turn out all right. Her novels are gripping and immersive and I personally can’t wait for all that is yet to come from her!
As for an Oz YA series… eeek, again, SO MANY possibilities… But I’d probably go with The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. The creativity that went into designing their books is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Not only are they visually spectacular on an artistic level, they also have an awesome plot and memorable characters. Added to that, I’m a huge fan of how each book focuses on a new set of protagonists, while keeping the previous book’s characters still there, just in the background. (Amie did this with Meagan in her Starbound series as well, which I also loved.) I always recommend Illuminae when I’m giving school talks since even students who don’t particularly like reading often love the unique design enough to give it a try. And when they do, it almost always gets them hooked and then becomes a ‘gateway book’ for them to continue reading in the genre.