How we write & Danielle Binks on fan fic, #LoveOzYA & transferrable skills.

In this episode we talk about how we write. Or, to be specific, how we wrote our first books, because as we explain, things have changed. Kate liked writing on trains, NaNoWriMo, writing retreats (Varuna, Bundanon and a regular one with our writing group) and admits to being a ‘binge writer’ (as per Cheryl Strayed). Katherine takes a more disciplined approach including daily writing practise, the Pomodoro method and a fabulous flexible work arrangement that blows Kate’s mind.

Then Katherine interviews writer, editor & literary agent Danielle Binks.

Danielle Binks is what Katherine calls a ‘triple threat’. Writer, Editor and literary agent with Jacinta di Mase Literary Agency – seeking Australian authors of Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG) fiction works. A Youth Literature Advocate, in 2017, Danielle edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, which went on to be an ABIA Book of the Year in 2018.

Danielle describes going ‘the long way round’ to start off her career in the literary industry, starting in a Bachelor of Communications at Monash Uni, via an internship with Black Dog Books now an imprint of Walker Books, to the Professional Writing and Editing course at PWE.

She describes her creative writing up to that point as being solely fan fiction – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, The West Wing and a particular favourite, Dawson’s Creek – and laughs at how she had to explain the context of her writing sample when being interviewed for her place at RMIT.

Danielle regards words from a journalism lecturer as some of the best writing advice she’s ever had: ‘If you take anything out of the bible, take this: Jesus wept. Two words, gets it done.’

She describes her first publication experience in Voiceworks Magazine; ‘It’s an adrenaline hit to see your name in print.’ She then published via her own book blog and Kill Your Darlings Magazine.

There’s a deep dive into discussing YA and Danielle mentions an early article she wrote for KYD – Young Adult Literature: genre is not readership. There’s talk of Harry Potter, Essie Hinton and so much more before Danielle talks about the genesis of #LoveOzYA and the Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology.

Danielle discusses how they chose the authors who contributed to the anthology. She talks about the fact that they wanted a diverse collection – in creators and content. She mentions an early article she wrote for KYD about needing more Indigenous storytellers in Australian YA and also touches on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. Ultimately, she says, ‘We read to know that we are not alone’ and teens, as much as anyone, want to see themselves represented on the page.

On classic Australian literature, Danielle gives a shout out to the critical examination encouraged by Stella Prize Schools Program; ‘Stella Prize Schools pokes holes in this idea that classic was always white male.’

Highlight of the 2018 ABIAs for Danielle (before the announcement): meeting Annabelle Crabb and Leigh Sales. And then of course, she found out Begin, End, Begin had won!

Katherine asks Danielle about the her article for KYD Are Writers Festivals Catering for the Next Generation. They go on to discuss the reviewing culture in Australia, and how small the industry is. Danielle is a fan of the Erik Jenson’s decision to have anonymous book reviews in The Saturday Paper.

Her advice to those trying to get into the industry:

‘Don’t short change yourself when it comes to your hobbies. You have transferrable skillsets…The things that you love can be the things that carry you into new industries.’

Wise words in a jam-packed interview, have your pencil handy!

Keep up with all that Danielle does on Twitter and Instagram.

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