Thanks to this blog, I’ve recently diversified my reading habits to include genres and titles I wouldn’t normally pick up, like young adult fiction. What a revelation! Re-visiting your teenage self is both an exhilarating and confronting experience – which pretty much sums up the reaction I had to Trinity Doyle’s Pieces of Sky (read the review here).
So, I’m absolutely stoked that Trinity agreed to answer a few questions about how and why she writes.
The voice in ‘Pieces of Sky’ is a key strength of the book. What do you do to get inside the head of a teenage girl?
So I just opened spotify and had to switch on some nostalgic music to get me in the headspace for this question. (Owen—if you’re curious.) And I think that’s a big part of my answer. My teen years always had a soundtrack so just playing the right song is like a time machine back to that headspace. In so many ways I’m still that raw, anxious girl, always in love with everyone so I don’t feel all that removed from my teenage self—I’ve just learnt how to handle it better.
I’m also a big watcher of teen TV. My favourite show will always be My So-Called Life, if you want to step into the mind of a teenage girl then go hang with Angela Chase.
Other faves include The 100, Teen Wolf, Friday Night Lights, Freaks and Geeks, and My Mad Fat Diary. Something that Winnie Holtzman, creator and writer of MSCL, once said (paraphrased badly) is that being a teenager now isn’t all that different to when we were teens, at the heart of it they still worry and care about all the same stuff: friends, love, who the heck you are and who are you going to be, those things are still the same.
Why this particular story, with its focus on risk-taking behaviour, anxiety, depression and romance?
Pieces of Sky started with me making Lucy a competitive swimmer, having that define her, and then taking that away by the drowning of her brother. The rest was a flow on of me continually asking why and what if. Why did Cam drown? What made him go into the water that night? What would Lucy’s world look like without swimming and without her brother? Some things, like the romance, were deliberate—I love messy love. I wanted to write a story that felt both heavy and light.
If you were Lucy, which of her two love interests would you have pursued and why? (Me – Evan! Right choice Lucy)
Oh I love Evan. Evan is because of the giant crush I had on Andrew Garfield and his wonderful hair. He’s also an homage to the boys I was always falling for. But Ryan! I adore him as well. I think if Ev wasn’t in the picture then the story would’ve been quite different.
Tell me about the YA scene in Australia. It seems a different place to what it was when I was a teen.
Aussie YA is the BEST. Kirsty Eagar, Vikki Wakefield, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood, David Metzenthan, Pip Harry, Melina Marchetta. If you want honest, unflinching beautiful writing then turn to Aussie YA. I continually find myself again and again in the truth of these author’s words. The scene is a happening place! Unfortunately though our local authors seem to get lost in the giant marketing budgets of overseas books, so the word needs to be spread! You can follow the #LoveOzYA hashtag on twitter for word spreading and tbr pile growing.
Who were the YA authors who influenced you growing up?
Her Royal Highness Melina Marchetta (HRHMM). I wore out my copy of Looking For Alibrandi. Oh I wanted to be Josie. Oh I wanted to date Jacob Coote. Oh I wanted those crazy kids to work it out. Alibrandi was the first book I read that felt like the world I lived in.
What’s a typical writing day for you? What are your processes? What was the path to publication like for ‘Pieces of Sky’?
Oh man that’s so many questions in one question. When I’m being good I’ll avoid the internet and write first thing in the morning. Today I laid in the sun like a cat while I whinged to my critique partner about having no clue about a character. She then gave me lots of clues and I went on tumblr to find boys that might look like him because my brain always demands visuals. Now I’m trying to figure out how this happy, quick-to-smile boy would handle having his world crushed.
The path to publication looked like that time I got lost in the Blue Mountains on a school trip. I kept thinking I’d catch up to the rest of the group but turns out I’d marched straight past them and into the unknown. Heh, that does kinda work. Truthfully, I just felt like telling that story. My journey was a lot of forging ahead with no real clue if I was going the right way. I learnt as much as I could about steps and pathways but I was the one who had to keep walking.
What are you working on next?
Story featuring above boy having his world crushed, a lonely artist type girl and an orange orchard.
Because it’s the only thing I’ve done so far that feels like me. I’m not trying to be anyone else. I’m always trying to be better but not by wanting to mimic anyone else. There’s so much relief in that. And because, when it’s going well, it feels like falling in love.
*For more information on Pieces of Sky, or to buy the book visit Allen & Unwin