#LoveOzYA in the USA: Shivaun Plozza
#LoveOzYA in the USA is a series featuring questions and answers with Australian YA authors who have been published in the USA.
In July, the #LoveOzYA team spoke to author Shivaun Plozza about her book, Frankie.
Is your American cover different to your Australian cover and if so, why?
The cover for the US edition hasn’t been finalised yet but the intention is for it to be mostly the same as the Australian cover. It’s the same cover artwork (an original drawing by the wonderful Emma Leonard) and they’re also using the same Melina Marchetta quote (because why wouldn’t you?).
Australian cover (left), US cover (right)
Did you have any input into either cover?
I was shown the initial concepts and, luckily, the concept I loved most was the one they went with. I was able to make comments and requests for changes that were mostly adhered to. They were very generous in how much they kept me up to date on the cover’s progress although I didn’t have to be too heavily involved because we had a very similar vision for what we wanted the cover to look like.
Do you have a preference for one of the covers?
As they’re basically the same, I love them both!
Do you have a favourite LoveOzYA cover design or designer?
I’m pretty biased but I think my designer, Marina Messiha, is the best there is. She’s done so many of my favourite covers and she really pushes the boundaries.
How does your book Frankie signal to your readers that the setting and characters are Australian? Did you include any interesting references to landmarks, history or pop culture?
The setting is pretty prominent in my novel – it’s set in Collingwood and, in many ways, the setting is like one of the main characters. I’ve said this a few times before but it’s worth repeating: Collingwood is a suburb bursting with character – not a sweet, girl-next-door kind of character but a scrappy underdog of a character, the kind who gets under your skin and forces you to look past the flaws to the raw, bold heart beneath. So it’s completely there on the page – in the characters, the landmarks, the kebab shops, everything. In particular it’s in Frankie herself – she’d be an entirely different character if she’d grown up anywhere else.
The thing that surprised me the most was just how many Aussie-ism ended up in there. I only discovered this when it came to editing the US edition and I had to explain all these ‘strange’ Australian concepts like speckies and Centrelink and what ‘buggered’ means when an Australian says it. That was a very interesting conversation …
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 aren’t many differences, certainly not as many as I thought there’d be. We obviously had to change the spelling (though not all – we kept a few things like ‘mum’) and swapped things like ‘jumper’ for ‘sweater’ – anything that might make an American reader confused. I had to remove a few things that didn’t have a direct translation – there’s no American equivalent for Centrelink for example so I couldn’t just swap that out. But these were all just small things. The story is the same and I didn’t have to completely re-write any of the scenes.
What do you think makes #LoveOzYA unique, and what do you think US audiences may gain or experience by reading it?
I don’t know how to answer this question without writing an essay! It’s hard to say because YA is a readership, not a genre, so every YA book – Australian, American or otherwise – brings something completely different to the table. Perhaps there’s something in tone or attitude that links Australian YA – I sometimes think we might be a little more adventurous, a little more willing to be bold and take chances, but then again I know plenty of American YA writers who do bold and wonderful things too. It would be great for American audiences to read Australian YA and learn something about this country that is beyond the clichés. But I think a good story is a good story, no matter where it’s set – I just want people reading all the books!
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.
How cruel to make me pick just one. Well, I think every American should read The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis when it comes out in October and not just because Will’s a friend of mine. It’s a bloody good book and they’re going to love it. Do Australian readers need encouragement when it comes to picking up American books to read? I’m not sure … But I’ll say The Hate U Give because it’s also a bloody good book.