Last night I attended the the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. These are our top prizes for Children’s Literature and so are a BIG DEAL.
Today I have been reflecting on the surprises amongst the winners and the Judges comments about choosing books with a distinctly New Zealand flavor.
For many years we have been looking outward trying to make our stories more international...or even ignoring our own stories thinking they won’t be of interest to an international audience. Publishers have hesitated about promoting New Zealand themed stories overseas...they won’t travel well, they're too kiwi. But these stories are our unique point of difference...amongst the fantasy/dystopian/superhero saturated publishing world and this year the judges decided to remind us of that fact.
Through it all Story is the defining thread...as Jack Lasenby (81), winner of the Young Adult category, said in his acceptance speech ‘Without Story, I Am Nothing.’
Jack’s writing career reflects New Zealands attitude to its own stories. He is a master storyteller deserving of a wide audience. His first novel for children tackled child abuse when no one ever talked about it and 'that is such a grim subject we don't want anyone overseas to know that happens in the land of Godzone'. Jack was known in New Zealand but no publisher took his work overseas...'it was too parochial'. Then he wrote dystopian Young Adult fiction, before it was popular...'great writing, but too dark...it might scare the children.' It won awards. His fun tall tales, for younger children, of life in New Zealand in the 30’s when he was growing up, great writing... won awards...'well the stories are too far removed from current children’s lives...won’t have any relevance to an international audience'. This year Gecko picked up his latest tall tale and took it overseas...and it got favourably reviewed by the Guardian.
Can we get over our cultural cringe and see if the world is ready for some real New Zealand stories. We are the nation of focus for Frankfurt and IBBY so we should start getting behind our great children’s writers.
What interesting gems are there in my blog link roundup today?
The importance of story links many of them.
From a cool infographic about how a story is born from Mediabistro to the importance of voice for audiobook narrators, the impressive Cris Dukehart on being a serial killer...and how to get the right narrators for your project from Bob Mayer.
The Book Designer has ten writing exercises to free your mind and K M Weiland talks about flipping genres halfway through the story and how to sort this out.
There is a guest interview featuring Editor Cheryl Klein who talks about the importance of plot and Bubblecow has a nifty piece on getting constructive feedback so you can edit.
The Guardian has an opinion piece on how Fan Fiction of popular stories is driving the new books being picked up and Rachelle Gardner has reprised her post on how to craft Book Proposals so your story can be picked up...
Two feel good stories offer hope out there...How one bookstore owner is taking on Amazon and how a self pubbed author of a popular scifi series got his project picked up in Hollywood.
Selfpublishing should be a marketing tool. This guest post has had lots of comment on Jane Friedmans blog and is a must read for the week along with the Books and Such agents blog on why everybody in publishing feels disenfranchised.
Joanna Penn has helpful hints on a marketing list to get your stories noticed and Catherine Ryan Howard tells you how to get your first readers.
Every link, a nice little story...I leave you with a video from Dan Blank about how the quality of the stories you create should last for generations.
The pic is The New Zealand Post Children's Book Award supreme winner...a distinctly New Zealand Non Fiction Story...which just happens to be a graphic novel!