#LoveOzYA Spotlight: Readings Young Adult Book Prize
#LoveOzYA Spotlight is a monthly series of blog posts highlighting bookish initiatives that promote Australian youth literature.
In June, the #LoveOzYA team spoke to Readings Prize Manager Bronte Coates about the Readings Young Adult Book Prize.
Q: The Readings Young Adult Book Prize was established recently, in 2016. For those in the #LoveOzYA community who may be unfamiliar with it, can you please explain what it is and what it aims to do?
A: As booksellers we’ve noticed that it can be tough for new authors to establish themselves in the market, so a few years ago we brainstormed ideas on how to give our favourite books from emerging Australian authors a boost. Consequently, we launched two annual literary prizes: The Readings Children’s Book Prize and The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. And we were so happy to introduce a third one last year.
The Readings Young Adult Book Prize recognises exciting emerging voices in Australian young adult literature. First and second published works of young adult fiction and memoir are eligible. The Prize is awarded to the best new contribution to Australian young adult literature, and in 2017, the winning author will receive prize money of $3000.
Q: Many #LoveOzYA books are published every year, a number of which are eligible for the YA Book Prize. Who at Readings helps select the shortlist? What qualities make a book shortlist-worthy?
A: The shortlist is selected by a revolving panel of Readings staff. Staff judges for 2017 include Angela Crocombe (shop manager at Readings Kids), Natalie Platten (assistant manager and children’s book buyer for Readings Doncaster), Leanne Hall (children’s and YA specialist and grant officer for the Readings Foundation) and Lian Hingee (digital marketing manager). All four are passionate about young adult literature and have selected books they feel are engaging, authentic and unique. These are books that bring something new to our local young adult literature landscape, and most importantly – they all have a teen readership in mind!
Once the shortlist has been decided, a guest judge then joins the panel to select a winner. We’re so pleased that Lili Wilkinson has taken on this role this year. She is a loud and proud champion of OzYA, and a fabulous author to boot. Seriously, go read her books immediately ...
Q: The shortlist for the YA Book Prize was announced a couple of days ago. Congratulations! Please tell us a bit about the six books.
A: Our inaugural shortlist includes (drum roll please...)
- Boone Shepard by Gabriel Bergmoser
- Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
- The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
- Becoming Aurora by Elizabeth Kasmer
- The Road to Winter by Mark Smith
- Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Our chair of judges (and talented YA author herself!) Leanne Hall writes: “The six books shortlisted for the inaugural Readings Young Adult Prize reflect the broad and freewheeling nature of Australian YA. The shortlist includes stories of post-apocalyptic survival, time travelling investigative journalists, teenagers caught up in major historical events and the rollercoaster of first love. Issues that impact young people today are reflected in these engaging and creative works – including offshore detention of asylum seekers, hate crimes, grief, depression and political freedom.”
All these books come from different publishers of young adult literature – some are established, some are independent, and one is a brand-new publishing house that only opened in Melbourne last year.
Q: The winner of the YA Book Prize will be revealed in late July. Are there any bookish celebrations planned? Or events with #LoveOzYA authors?
A: Keep an eye on our calendar! We’ll be revealing any plans in the next few weeks.
Q: We are so excited that the Readings Young Adult Book Prize exists! In what ways can the #LoveOzYA community help support the prize?
A: Read these books! Talk about these books! Share these books with your friends! The best way to support our Prize is by supporting the brilliant, talented authors on our shortlist – Gabriel Bergmoser, Wai Chim, Zana Fraillon, Elizabeth Kasmer, Mark Smith and Krystal Sutherland. These authors and their books are why we started this Prize in the first place, and they come with our highest recommendation.
Thank you for your time, Bronte!
Thanks to the kind people at Readings, we have one pack of the six books shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize to give away. To enter the giveaway, simply subscribe to the #LoveOzYA newsletter during 1–30 June. The winner will be notified in July. Open to Australian residents only.