#LoveOzYA in the USA: Erin Gough
#LoveOzYA in the USA is a series featuring questions and answers with Australian YA authors who have been published in the USA.
In June, the #LoveOzYA team spoke to author Erin Gough about her book, The Flywheel, published in the USA as Get it Together, Delilah.
Erin, is your American cover different to your Australian cover and if so, why?
Yes. I suspect a key reason the covers are different is because the titles are different! Each of the titles are integrated so seamlessly into the cover design that I doubt there was a real choice to keep the covers the same.
Did you have any input into either cover?
Each of my publishers gave me a choice of three or four (quite similar) cover variations and when I expressed my preference they respected that choice.
Do you have a preference for one of the covers?
Not really. They’re both gorgeous in different ways.
What do you like/dislike about each of them?
I like that they are both illustrated rather than a photograph. I must say I particularly like the black chalkboard background of the US cover. Colours on black is an aesthetic preference of mine.
Do you have a favourite #LoveOzYA cover design or designer?
No, simply because there are too many great covers and designers! For example, Sandy Cull (Girl Defective, Simone Howell), Astred Hicks (In the Dark Spaces, Cally Black and The Boundless Sublime, Lili Wilkinson) and Stephanie Spartels (Life in Outer Space, Melissa Keil and The Yearbook Committee, Sarah Ayoub).
Erin, 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?
It was actually very interesting to revisit the book to find out the answer to this question. I published in Australia first and wrote the book with an Australian audience in mind, so the locational signals are very much incidental. The first indication of setting is in the first chapter when my main character, Del, describes Rosa, the girl she has a crush on, as having “the greenest eyes in the Southern Hemisphere”. Things get a bit more specific a few pages in, with a reference to Australian working visas.
There is a brief scene at Bondi Beach, but I don’t think the book mentions any other famous Australian landmarks or cultural references. Except for flat whites, of course. A lot of flat white drinking goes on at the Flywheel cafe.
Your book has a different title in the US. Why is that?
In the States, there is both an Uber-style taxi company and a spin class called “Flywheel”. My US publishers wanted to avoid associations with those brands.
Are there any differences between the US and Australian edition besides the cover and title? 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 are actually quite a few differences. Some lines and chapter headings have been changed, and a few scenes have been lengthened or shortened. None of these were culturally-based changes. They were simply the result of another pair of eyes (i.e. my US editor) taking a look at the book and suggesting improvements. However, there is nothing so drastic that would be noticeable to the casual reader, unless she read one version straight after the other and was paying close attention. It was important to me that the versions would “read” more or less the same.
Rather than changing the Australian slang within the text (and I was surprised to discover there is a lot of it in there) my US editor suggested I write an “Oz glossary” in the back of the book from Del’s perspective. I had a lot of fun with this and it felt better than tampering with the language of the characters, who are Australian, after all.
An example from the glossary: “LONGNECK: A large bottle of beer, called ‘bombers’ in the States. Very classy blokes like to stumble around the streets after football games carrying them in paper bags while showing their bums to passing cars.”
What do you think makes #LoveOzYA unique, and what do you think US audiences may gain or experience by reading it?
I always enjoy reading books set in “exotic” locations, because it’s a way of immersing myself in a new culture and place. For Americans, I think Australian fiction can have this appeal. I also think we use language in a unique way. There is something economic and pithy about the Australian voice, which sets us apart from other nationalities.
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.
US writer Sara Farizan writes great books for YA audiences, for example, Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. On the Australian side, I recently read Finding Nevo: How I Confused Everyone by Nevo Zisin, an amazing autobiography about gender.
Thanks so much, Erin!