#LoveOzYA Q&A with Archimede Fusillo

Archimede Fusillo has had nine YA novels published both in Australia and overseas. His novels have won both critical and reader acclaim, with The Dons winning Book of the Year in 2001. He has won many prestigious awards, including the Alan Marshall Award, the Henry Savery Award and the Mary Grant Bruce Award, and is the recipient of an International Literature Fellowship – which itself was awarded the Sanciolo Literature Award. He has also written several textbooks on writing, has lectured all over Australia and overseas and has also been the judge of the Victorian Premiers Award and the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards. 

Archimede’s latest book is Tribal Lores (Walker Books), available August 1!

Welcome to the LoveOzYA blog, we’re so happy to have you here. Please tell us about your new book!
This novel is about the power of friendship to stem the corrosive nature of ignorance and intolerance. It’s a novel about the struggles males have with admitting they are hurting, even when it is obvious to all around them-even their closest mates. Frankie and Lochie are characters that I have carried with me since childhood really, each scaffolded upon the many boys and men in my life, from childhood mates to adult friends. There is no story of Frankie and of Lochie-this is their shared story-because life is like that, we do not exist in exclusivity to those around us. The Rechio and the Marsh families come from different cultural tribes, yet they share more than they realise, not least of which is the ease with which they can be hurt-and the depth to which they can heal and become stronger.

Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
The books I read as a teenager weren’t classified as YA. In fact I don’t think I ever heard that term in all my years of schooling. When I did read it was because the story captured my imagination. I have always loved stories. One book that does stand out though is the novel ‘Bless The Beasts and the Children’. This novel resonated with me because I was invested in the characters and in their journeys. Perhaps that is why so much of what I write in YA has such a strong sense of character. A strong character usually has a strong story, and within this the story of others.

Did you have anyone encourage your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
Yes, my Year 11 and 12 English teacher is the person who invested in me as a reader. She had a passion for stories and the craftsmanship involved in writing that was infectious-at least for me. In her classes it wasn’t enough to simply have read a novel or a short story-or a play for that matter. She wanted her students to see the flesh behind the ink, to hear the voice of the author as it was manifested in all the characters, and to marvel at how special it was that one imagination could create so many versions of the one world we all thought we knew. I was hooked.

What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?
Setting. Australia is a unique setting. Just as Africa is. Or Italy. Or Japan. Our landscapes, our cityscapes, the cadences of our various inflections when we speak. Even the colours of the sky after summer rain, or the sound of wind on an open plain, theses things set Australia apart. And these things, amongst so many others sets the characters that inhabit our stories apart, and in this lies the difference between an Australian story and one that is not.

Do you have a favourite book or library?
I absolutely still love ‘Bless The Beasts and the Children’, however I go back again and again to such books as Sun On The Stubble, The Outsider, Milk-a collection of short stories, I’m Not Scared, The Crucible, The Alchemist, Scourge and Fire, Stay With Me, Ten Mile River, The Beginner’s Guide to Life and Of Beasts and Being.

What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
I have just finished reading the trilogy of books based on the life of Cicero-Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator by Robert Harris…history and fiction tightly woven into intrigue and wonderful epic scenescapes.

Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?
I enjoy drawing. I like the process of transposing from what I see in my mind to something definable on paper. I like the feel of a simple pencil as it glides over a sheet of smooth paper and the lead seems to pour itself out as an extension of my fingers. I also like to play around with the guitar. I once played in a band, a bunch of young guys mimicking the wild rock boys we saw on TV and heard on the radio.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
The Worst: Only write what you know about and have experienced. Rather limiting for a writer with any imagination.
The Best: Write because there is a story you simply have to tell yourself. If you do it well enough there will be an audience for it outside of yourself.

What do you love about OzYA?

The risks both writers and publishers are willing to take with subject matter and genre, and the faith in the readership, that it has a keen sense of what makes for a satisfying read.

To find out more about Archimede and his books visit his website archimedefusillo.com

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