When I was asked to compile an end-of-the-year roundup of books that made an impact in 2016, Perth author Nadia L. King’s debut Young Adult novel, Jenna’s Truth (Aulexic), was right at the top of my list. It’s a powerful and poignant anti-bullying story that raises awareness of the insidious impacts of bullying in contemporary times, particularly the effects of cyberbullying. It also deftly, sensitively and honestly raises the themes of teen drinking, sex and suicide. Written as a heartfelt response to the tragic death of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, Jenna’s Truth is a book that should be read by every pre-teen and every teenager — as well as their parents, and their teachers.
Nadia was born in Dublin, Ireland, and now calls Australia home. She has a background in journalism and media relations and has written for magazines in Europe, Australia, and the US. On her website, Nadia readily admits she “reads voraciously and enthusiastically and inhales books the same way her Labrador inhales dog biscuits”.
I feel honoured to have Nadia as a guest on my blog today. She is an author whose storytelling brings hope to young readers and is, literally, saving lives. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her responses to my questions, including finding out what she’s working on next.
Q. Nadia, how would you describe the work that you do, and how you do it?
A. I’m a blogger, reviewer, author, and short story writer. A million years ago, I started out as a journalist and I worked in corporate communications and media relations for about a decade. Now I try to write fiction.
Q. What is your latest project, and/or what do you have in the pipeline?
A. I’m currently in the research and planning phase of my second book. It’s a YA novel and the story is centred around seventeen-year-old Jack, whose obsession is manga and graff. Jack hasn’t quite worked out who he is or where his sexual orientation lies. I obviously have to work on my blurb!
Q. Where are the main bookcases in your home or office? Do you also keep books in other places at home (or elsewhere)?
A. Although I have a large number of books on my Kindle, nothing beats holding a physical book in your hands. Alas, our home lacks a library but we have a large bookcase in the hallway by the stairs. There are a few other bookcases around the house but there are many more piles of books. Thank goodness my husband isn’t too bothered by the growing piles of books which seem to spring from nowhere.
Q. How are your books organised/arranged?
A. I would love to impress you with my organisational skills. I have a loose system of organisation. Actually, confession time — it’s so loose it’s basically non-existent. I try to keep all my poetry books, my short story collections, and books by each author grouped together but ultimately space dictates where each book lives. I have been known to jam books wherever they will fit.
Q. What sorts of books predominate?
A. Classics and general fiction predominate in my collection. I’m also interested in history and art so there are quite a few books from those topics on my shelves or in piles ;). I have a collection of Daphne Du Maurier’s works, a 1906 collection of Dickens’ writings, and a complete set of The Masterpiece Library of Short Stories — The Thousand Best Complete Tales of all Time and all Countries which I think is dated around 1920.
Q. Describe your favourite reading place.
A. I can read anywhere but my favourite place to read is on my bed. Usually with a few pillows behind my head and one of our cats by my side. I read every day without fail.
Q. What book/s are you reading right now? Why did you choose that book/those books and what do you think of it/them so far?
A. I’m currently reading three books. Through an online book club, I’m reading Cervantes’ Don Quixote for the first time. I have read precisely two pages so I can’t illuminate you on my reading but I can say I’m rather intimidated by the book; both by its size and age (it was written over four hundred years ago).
This week, the lovely people at Text Publishing sent me an advance copy of Night Swimming by YA author, Steph Bowe. It’s a coming-of-age story and deals with complex issues but it also has crop circles, a girl who loves her goat, her family and her best friend, who is intent on putting on a musical in the small rural NSW town in which they live. I’m about a quarter of the way through and I am loving it.
Father Christmas brought me Murakami and Ozawa’s Absolutely on Music. I am an adult learner of the piano and have zero musical education so I’m really enjoying
Murakami’s interviews with the Maestro which cover everything from Beethoven to pop-up orchestras.
Q. What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors?
A. My favourite books are Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and Jane Austen’s novels. Last year, I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and it left me bereft so it’s way up there with my favourite books. I simply adore Australian author, Favel Parett’s writing and her book Past the Shallows is a must-read for all literate humans!
Q. In the event of an emergency, if you could save just three books from your collection, which books would they be – and why would you choose them?
A. I have a Folio collection of Jane Austen’s novels in a cardboard sleeve which lives on my desk and that would be my first pick in a house-fire. I also have a large volume of That Glimpse of Truth: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written and I would be tempted to try and grab that as I raced out. By that stage, my hands would be so full I’m not sure I could carry anything else!
Q. If you could sit down for afternoon tea with your three favourite characters or authors, who would they be, what would you serve them, and what would like to talk to them about?
A. One of my fantasies is to drink champers with F Scott Fitzgerald and I admit to being slightly obsessed with Ernest Hemingway. One day, I would also love to meet Haruki Murakami and Favel Parret. If we could use the Tardis and get all these brilliant writers together I would serve bubbles, pink Gin, smelly French cheese, apples, sushi, and Japanese cakes. I’m not sure how they would get on, or if they would like my selection of food, but I would love to grill them on self-doubt, the writing process, and how writers should use Twitter. I can imagine Fitzgerald and Hemingway getting into a fight and both demanding hard liquor (they apparently had an ambivalent friendship). I would probably corner Murakami at some point and ask him to look over my outline for Jack’s story!
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