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Keep writing and keep being brave – Author, Lucy Christopher tells us about her special relation with John Marsden.

Author, Lucy Christopher tells us about her special relation with John Marsden.

John Marsden was a huge influence on my writing. I would go so far as to say that without John Marsden, I may not even be a writer at all.  It all started way back in the 1990s when I was a teenager in Mentone. John came to visit our school. At the time I had never met an author before, and John certainly wasn’t what I expected an author to be like. The first thing he did was to move us from sitting on the floor looking up at him, to sitting on chairs: he said he wanted to speak to us face-to-face, as equals. We are all storytellers, he said.

I responded to him immediately, enthralled as he told us how he got the ideas and story lines for his novels. I went away and read every one.  Then I wrote to him as a pen pal (yes with real paper and ink!) and he wrote back.  He told me to keep writing and to keep being brave. So I did. I wrote all the time after that. I wrote though my Creative Arts Degree at Melbourne University and then through my Creative Writing Masters and PhD degrees at Bath Spa University.

I wrote and wrote and wrote, until I eventually wrote a book called StolenStolen is set in Australia and tells the story of Gemma, a young English girl, and her complicated relationship with arid Australian land and with the man who has kidnapped her there.  I asked my publisher if they would send it to John as a gift.  Within a few days of receiving it, John got back in touch with me: he loved the book, he wanted to endorse it.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so proud, or overawed, than when I held the hard copy of my novel Stolen in my hands with the endorsement from John on the front cover: A stunning, scary and beautiful book. I love John Marsden. I always say it was his books that influenced me most in my pathway to becoming a published writer.

Lucy Christopher is an internationally renowned writer of Young Adult fiction.  Her books Stolen and Flyaway were both short-listed for the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.  Lucy’s latest book, Storm-Wake, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, was released earlier this year. Visit Lucy’s website for more information.
John Marsden is our special guest at the Festival. John will talk to Alice Pung about the influence he had on her writing career as they discuss Alice’s book On John Marsden. Alice and John will be joined by Bruno Lettieri to shed new light on the art of writing. Sunday 17 June at 2.00pm.