#BookReview: Year of the Orphan by Daniel Findlay

9780143782070 - Copy

Most of em looked like they mighta once been human but that wun, that wund been more beast than anything else. Sum kinda merge like she’d heard in the darkest tale, a thing not quite all animal an smart enough to hunt ya blind. Beast enough to open ya up like barbed wire across the belly.

Daniel Findlay is an exciting new voice in Australian fiction, with his debut novel a stylistically brave and provocative page-turner!

The distinctive language draws you into a post-apocalyptic Australian landscape, wrought with destruction, desolation, and scavengers. Whilst some might find the main character’s dialogue jarring, the rhythm of the prose works with the Orphan herself and the unfolding narrative to paint an emotionally raw and devastated new world that weaves elements of classic dystopian novels to create something entirely different.

There is something believably chilling about ‘The System’ – a walled dessert community that fears the past and the undoing that it left – and an intensity that encompasses you as you read that will not relinquish until you’ve read right to the very eerie, yet somewhat hopeful end.

This is a book that deserves to become an Australian classic and is sure to devour a piece of your heart every time you read it!


All Day YA: My Top 5 #SWF Picks!

Across the 2017 Festival, some of the world’s most curious and compassionate, irreverent but respectful, intelligent and argumentative writers will be offering up their brilliant works as temporary respite, and interrogating the forces that compel us to come together and find sanctuary.

Michaela McGuire
Sydny Writers’ Festival Artistic Director

It’s that time of year again! That time of year when you’re frantically flicking through your diary and the Sydney Writers’ Festival Guide in the hope that nothing that you desparately want to see clashes. There is one day, however, where I know nothing I want to see will clash (phew, that’s a releif!)

You guessed it! All Day YA is back for the 2017 Sydney Writers’ Festival. This time it makes its home at Riverside Theatres in Paramatta instead of the wharf, but the line-up is so incredible it’ll be worth the trip away from the glorious literary hustle and bustle of the piers for sure!


Here are my Top 5 picks for the All Day YA program:

1. Love Oz YA Anthology: Begin, End, Begin

I love that Aussie YA is becoming more popular and widespread (which has a lot to do with the incredible #LoveOzYA online movement). It’s important to have authentic, young, and contemporary Australian voices heard, especially because of their diversity! The release of the Love Oz YA anthology Begin, End, Begin is the YA event of the year for me so far and I look forward to hearing what these talented, successful, and passionate Aussie YA authors have to say about their writing and why it’s important to support Australian books and Australian authors. I’m certain it will be an uplifting and celebratory panel about how much there truly is to love about Oz YA!

2. Defying Expectations: How Female Writers Defy Stereotypes

This is a topic that I hold particularly close to my heart. Being a young woman, and trying to make it as a writer, I am excited to hear what four incredibly successful female YA writers have to say about defying the expectations of gender stereotypes. All four writers on the panel are such inspirations to me! Their writing is raw and genuine and full of life. I am most interested in hearing Amie Kaufman speak about being a female writer who writes female characters that defy stereotypes within the science-fiction and fantasy genres, which are still genres that are overly dominated and defined by male writers, male characters, and gender stereotypes.

3. Keeping Company: Characters Across a Series

I am looking forward to this panel mainly for Garth Nix! His books have immersed me and challenged me over the years, and I take great inspiration from the ways in which he constructs his characters. James Bradley is a master storyteller of future worlds, and I am a fiend for post-apocalyptic YA (especially when it is done well!), so I’m hoping this panel will include a discussion on characters within dystopian novels. I’m also interested in this panel for my own writing as I am intrigued as to how writers can keep characters interesting and dynamic across multiple novels, and have them leave a special place in our hearts.

4. More Than Meets the Eye: Diversity in YA Fiction

This is a topic that sparks my interest, especially in YA novels because I believe it’s important to represent diversity to teenagers and young adults in an authentic way. I hope this panel discusses how they each create diverse characters that are not tokenistic, artificial, or stereotypical. I can’t even decide which author I’m most looking forward to seeing from this panel — Sarah Ayoub, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Erin Gough or Will Kostakis. It’s just too hard! Each writer on the panel is a groundbreaking and inspirational figure to me, as I’m sure they are to many other fans out there! These four Australian YA writers are sure to provide an inspiring, funny, and diverse discussion!

5. Talking Tough Topics with Jennifer Niven

Jennifer Niven is renowned for writing fiction that draws on her own personal struggles and life-altering experiences of growing up. This is what makes her writing so raw and so real for many teens and young adults. I am fascinated by her boldness and her ability to write fictionally about things that she holds so close to her, especially things that might be deemed controversial in some way. There is lots of discussion in the media at the moment about including tough topics in YA literature so I think it will be interesting to hear from a writer who writes about these ‘tough topics’ for teens and what her opinion is about some of the contentious backlash. I look forward to hearing what Jennifer has to say about adapting her experiences and how it feels for her to let them out into the world to be read, interpreted, and discussed.

A big thank you Sydney Writers’ Festival for giving me the opportunity to write for them. You can view the original post by them and see the rest of their amazing line-up here.