#LoveOzYA Q&A with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
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?
We’ve both been telling stories as long as we can remember—from Meg making her own books as soon as she could wield a stapler, to Amie spinning stories for her whole grade two class every lunchtime. We met through stories, as part of the fandom community, where we were both writing our own!
Tell us about your new book.
After wrapping up the Starbound Trilogy (that started with These Broken Stars), this is the first in our new series together! Unearthed is sort of an “Indiana Jones teams up with Lara Croft, in space!” type story – it’s got archaeology, alien planets, action, and of course romance. We had so much fun writing it!
Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
For Amie it started with The Silver Brumby and all its wonderful sequels, written by Elyne Mitchell, and from there of course it was amazing authors like Melina Marchetta, Robin Klein, Victor Kelleher and Garth Nix. Garth Nix is where Meg climbs on board the LoveOzYA train—she’s adored Sabriel since the moment she read the opening page.
Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
Absolutely—our parents kept the books coming, and we both had wonderful librarians and teachers as well. There was a fair amount of unsupervised reading under the covers, though these days we’re actually not sure whether our parents secretly knew about that.
Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?
Amie’s had the same local bookshop since the day she was born—Beaumaris Books, where the booksellers greet you by name and always have a recommendation! Ditto Beaumaris Library, where the librarians are always so lovely, and the collection is amazing. And when Meg came to live in Australia, they became her locals as well!
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
Shout out here to Cally Black’s amazing In The Dark Spaces – awesome science fiction with a distinctly Australian voice, and recent winner of the Ampersand!
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
Definitely the worst we’ve ever received is anything that starts with “you must.” Unless we’re talking about following submission guidelines, there’s no must in writing advice. Anyone who gives advice is simply telling you what works for them, and you can try it out if it sounds like it might suit you, whether it’s writing 500 words a day or cutting all your adverbs, don’t treat it as a rule.
Perhaps the best advice – though there’s so much that’s good – is to get used to completing work (it’s easier to start than to finish!) and then sending it out for critique. Learn to embrace that feedback, even if you don’t always go with it. You build writing muscle every time you review your work with someone else’s critique in mind, and you get better and stronger.
What do you love about OzYA?
The community is absolutely amazing, and so supportive – it’s grown so powerfully in recent years, and it’s great to have a way to find out about events, cheer for other Aussies and their latest books, and directly access the wonderful vein of storytelling talent that we have here in Australia. For Meg, she always feels like a long lost honorary Aussie whenever she comes back for a visit—the community always makes her feel so welcome!