#LoveOZYA Interview: A.J. Betts
I love Aussie YA. I love reading books from authors that live in the same country as me, that know things that people out of Australia might be so confused about. I love how sometimes they can incorporate this into their book and it is fabulous.
So in saying that, I have decided to start a new feature on Angel Reads spotlighting Australian YA Authors. Each Friday for the next couple of months, I am going to interview an OZYA Author. I thought it would be a fun way to share my love for Australian Young Adult authors with not only fellow Aussies, but everyone around the world. I want more Australian YA books to be read, because they are amazing.
First week I interview Sarah Ayoub, then Fleur Ferris, followed by Will Kostakis, then Shivaun Plozza, and Gabrielle Tozer, followed by Jay Kristoff, then Kylie Fornasier. This week we have A.J Betts author of Shutterspeed (2008, Fremantle Press), Wavelength (2010, Fremantle Press) and Zac and Mia (2013, Text Publishing).
Hi AJ Betts, and welcome to Angel Reads. First can you introduce yourself to everyone? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi there. I’m an author and teacher who lives in Perth. I love cycling, travelling, bushwalking and living by the sea.
What has your writing journey been like? Where did you start? Why?
Writing was always a passion of mine. As a young adult, my main interest was poetry, and I had a number of poems published in my early twenties. My first novel, Shutterspeed, evolved out of a short story I’d been working on. I had the idea in 2000, and it was published in 2008.
What was the process of getting your first book published?
I entered Shutterspeed into a major writing competition, which I received excellent feedback and encouragement from. On the judges’ advice, I sent the manuscript to Fremantle Press, and it was fortunately picked up by them. I guess my story is quite straightforward and positive, compared to most
Was it different when getting your next books published?
Every book has a different process, in terms of writing and publication. My next novel, Wavelength, was also sent to Fremantle Press. My third, Zac & Mia, was entered in the Text Prize as an unpublished manuscript. I’ve never been contracted to write work, and I don’t want to. I still prefer to write independently and privately, then seek the best avenue for the manuscript. While it may be easier to be published now (as a previously-published author) I think the process is equally tough. Each novel should be viewed as a complete work in the best version it can be, rather than an extension of a writer’s oeuvre.
What was the difference between getting your books published here in Australia and internationally?
They’re very different, and I have less power/involvement in the publishing process overseas (as it’s handled by my rights manger at Text Publishing). Every country makes their own choices about their intended market, and will package the novel accordingly, including some alterations to the manuscript.
You are an OZYA author, what are some of your favourite Aussie YA books?
At the moment, anything by Fiona Wood, Vikki Wakefield, Julia Lawrinson and Cath Crowley.
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.”
So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.
Thank you A.J. for joining me at Angel Reads. That is it for this week’s #LoveOZYA Interview. What did you think of A.J and her books?
Come back next week for some more Aussie fun. If you want to know more about the #LoveOZYA movement check out the website for all the details.