Taking Five with Kaz Delaney

Taking Five

Kaz Delaney will be running a YA writing workshop at the ACT Writers Centre on Saturday 8 November. Bookings essential. Details here.

1.What is it about Young Adult literature that you love?

The freshness, the rawness of the age. I adore teenagers – they’re irreverent, fun and so filled with passion. Often it’s misplaced but they own it.  The characters are so real and their future is a long wonderful gift waiting to be opened day by day. Such an exciting time of life… Stories featuring them have all these elements—so they’re often a wild, funny, angst filled—and never boring—ride.

2. What do you find the hardest when it comes to writing?

Oh wow… Tough question. So many grown-up answers are crowding my mind—like character building etc. But I guess, even after 70 plus books, that it’s my own doubts and insecurities; that critic sitting on my shoulder continually asking me if I’m being authentic; if the story is authentic – and if overall, it’s a good yarn.  That inner voice can absolutely do my head in, but on the other hand it keeps pushing me to do better. 

3. What are you currently reading?

Just finished Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and loved it. About to dive into YA novel, The Rapunzel Dilemma by Jennifer Kloester which is the sequel to The Cinderella Moment. Adored the first and so, so looking forward to the second. It’s been burning a hole in my to-read pile for about two months! Both Aussie authors, both a credit to our home grown industry.

4. Describe Dead Actually, (long listed for the Davitt Award Best Children’s YA 2012 and won the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel 2012).

And also won the ARRA award for Best Paranormal for 2012! That little book baby has done well! Makes this mama very proud.  LOL. So, how can I describe it? It’s a hybrid novel, meaning it crosses a few genre boundaries. It’s a romance, it’s funny – lots of black humour, it has a snarky, nasty ghost – and it’s a rollicking good mystery! Something for everyone!!! LOL. Seriously, I love ‘story’ and I try to never scrimp on that. However, I think it’s the mystery element that’s the strong hook: JoJo is dead. She’s sure someone murdered her and refuses to move on to the next world (and out of Willow Cartwright’s bedroom) until someone is made to pay. Guilty relief (from her peers) is the main reaction to JoJo’s sudden passing, but before you judge, consider the fact that if the person blackmailing you has suddenly passed away, wouldn’t you be a little bit happy? However, the blackmailing doesn’t stop, and not only does Willow have to discover if JoJo was murdered and by whom if she ever wants her bed back –  to say nothing of any kind of peace –  to everyone else she’s also looking good for the blackmail. And that’s not good. In fact, it’s very, very bad… Thank goodness she has the gorgeous Seth on her side. Eventually, anyway… 

5. What can participants expect to take away from your Riding the Wave of YA Success workshop this Saturday (8th Nov)?

The YA market is a minefield—but also one of the most exciting markets of our time.  I think this era will go down in history as the time of the  emergence of the Blockbuster YA novel.  I’ve been writing for 20 years; my very first published novel and the first book I attempted as a commercial venture, was a YA romance, so I’ve been around and doing this for a while.

So, first and foremost? The benefit of my experience.  Sometimes I worry that my workshops are information overload—but then again isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s a full gamut experience in that we go from the actual writing and tips, that all important ‘structure’ and plotting—right through to identifying the Unique Selling Point of YA, pitching and through to markets. And those markets? They’re so wide, so diverse… So may opportunities abound. More YA novels are being turned into movie blockbusters than ever before. Those novels are responsible for the biggest growth in any one single area of publishing. And that means there’s money to be made. And THAT means publishers are looking for the next one… Is it tough? You bet. But every market is tough right now. But who knows if the next BIG YA phenomenon isn’t the one you’re sitting on?  If you’re thinking about this market—and considering that authors such as James Patterson, Jodie Piccoult and Stephen King are just a few who have recognised the wealth of this market and therefore you’d be in good, intelligent company—then please come along and find out more on Saturday. There are always a lot of laughs and there are always some give-aways. And I’ll have lollies.


Kaz Profiles 051Award winning YA & children’s author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, Kerri Lane have currently sold 68 books between them. Kaz’s current title Dead, Actually (Allen & Unwin) is a ‘crossover novel’, closing the divide between adult and teen fiction, and recipient of the ARRA Award for Favourite Paranormal for 2012, and the Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel for 2012, and was long listed for a Davitt Award in the children’s/YA section. Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU’s Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism. Almost Dead, the next in the Dead series, is a January 2014 release.

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