For Educators, For Readers 6 years ago

#LoveOzYA Q&A with Fiona Bell

Debut #LoveOzYA author Fiona Bell lives in Cairns and has drawn on the tropical north as the setting for her novel, Waterhole.

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?

I’ve always liked writing but didn’t really get serious about it until my adult years.

Tell us about your new book.

Waterhole is about a girl called Sunny, who’s lost her mother in a car accident, but the real story is what happens when she returns home from boarding school to find her mother is still around. Sunny has to figure out why and, in the meantime, a boy goes missing from her small town and no-one knows where he is. The story is set in Far North Queensland – the north is very mysterious and remote and strange things happen in these kinds of places.

Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?

I’ve been grown up for a while! But some OzYA I’ve loved in the last couple of years have been Claire Zorn’s novel, The Sky So Heavy, and Pip Harry’s, I’ll Tell You Mine.

Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?

My parents are great readers and I inherited that love. My great grandfather wrote a manuscript about his life in Iceland as a boy, and my mum wrote a romance novel once too, so maybe it’s in the genes.

What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?

Aussie books tend to have very strong sense of place, something I love when reading. This continent lends itself so well to different genres too from dystopian tales to family dramas. I also think our Australian character comes through in OzYA and it’s refreshing and unique to read stories that come from diversity.

Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?

All libraries are my favourite. Ditto for bookshops.

What was the last book you read and enjoyed?

It wasn’t YA, but I loved, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. He’s a genius and I can’t stop thinking about the story, which is always a sign of a good book, I reckon.

Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?

I’m not really creative in other areas. I can’t sew or paint and I was always bad at colouring in! I sing sometimes in the car. It’s pretty bad, but my younger two kids have to listen as they can’t drive on their own yet.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?

The best would be to write even if you thinks it’s bad. Usually you can write your way out of a problem. I don’t think I’ve had bad advice – I’m pretty compliant and do what people tell me to, including following all advice from people who know more than me.

What do you love about OzYA?

An online forum for discussing and promoting OzYA – what’s not to love?

Waterhole by Fiona Bell is published by UQP Books. You can find out more about it here. 



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