When it comes to being a writer in Australia, finding an agent can be very tricky business. Lauren from Aussie Owned and Read speaks with the lovely Pippa Masson from Curtis Brown Australia to find out her thoughts on the Australian Young and New Adult writing scene.
Aussie Owned and Read: As a literary agent in Australia, what do you feel is trending in the YA genre at the moment? Are we over vampires yet?
Pippa: Traditionally Australian YA tends to have a more literary bent–most of the paranormal romance has been bought from either the US or the UK, with the exception of a few local authors who have had quite successful series. I think people still want solid award winning YA fiction but there’s also a lot more room for commercial YA fiction, particularly in genres such as romance.
Aussie Owned and Read: YA has recently developed an older sister, NA; do you believe in NA as a genre and is this something you think will develop well in our culture?
Pippa: I think NA is what we call crossover. NA seems to have come out of the US where they have a much bigger market. Crossover books are titles that can be read by either adult and YA audiences. Books such as JASPER JONES, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME and THE BOOK THIEF have been published in that way. I absolutely think that adults are much more receptive to YA/children’s books now–especially since the phenomenon that was HARRY POTTER.
Aussie Owned and Read: Obviously, there are some subjects and actions that are seen as taboo in YA. What are your top three “Too Much Information” topics in this genre that result in an absolute “No” for you?
Pippa: I don’t like the idea of having things as off-limits in YA fiction but there certainly are gatekeepers who don’t like the idea of having drugs, sex or violence but I do think that’s changing. Of course, anything really gratuitous would be a no-no for me.
Aussie Owned and Read: Do you think YA stories set in Australia hold global appeal, or that those with a broader “could be anywhere” feel to it are more successful in this target age bracket?
Pippa: I think, unfortunately, stories with a broader indeterminate setting tend to be more successful though if the author is a big name or a prize winner, people can certainly make that jump. Sometimes, too, publishers like Australia for the exotic location!
Aussie Owned and Read: Is there a specific niche in the YA market you would love to see more of at the moment?
Pippa: I’d love to see more crossover (or NA if that’s what you want to call it!)–that is a genre that really excites me.
Aussie Owned and Read: What advice would you have for any YA writer looking to query with Curtis Brown?
Pippa: Do your research and make sure you’re targeting the right agent for your work. Ensure it’s finished, doesn’t have any spelling mistakes and is ready to go–as in, you feel confident enough in it. My biggest piece of advice would be to read. It’s so important and after all, you’re not a writer if you’re not a reader!