Thursday, April 6, 2017

SCBWI SG _____ Australian writer PIP HARRY is now based in Singapore, she says hello and also tells us how she writes and promotes her books

The Singapore chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a very diverse group. We have picture book creators, middle grade authors, young adult novelists, as well as creative enthusiasts who are still feeling their way around and trying to decide on their own unique niche. You can read about our members here and here. And now here's another introduction. This week, I'm delighted to feature established YA author Pip Harry, who has moved over from Australia and is already active in the local writing community. Thanks to fellow member Melanie Lee for setting up this interview. You can contact Pip at the links below, after the interview.

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Hello! Tell us about yourself! 
I got my start as a writer and editor interviewing celebs for weekly gossip and entertainment magazines in Australia like NW, Woman's Day, New Idea and TV Week. I had a dream to become an author for young people for a long time (it was a long 12 years before I got a publishing deal!) and I've written three contemporary realistic YA novels; I'll Tell You Mine (2012, UQP), Head of the River (2014, UQP) and Because of You (August, 2017, UQP) My writing covers lots of themes but focuses on the ups and downs of family life and friendships.

What inspires you to explore these YA genres / themes?
I write realistic, contemporary fiction because I like being in the here and now with my characters and writing in a gritty, honest style with little sugar coating! I tackle confronting issues in my work such as youth homelessness and poverty, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, family conflict, relationship breakdowns, grief and mental illness, but I always aim to write about these things with sensitivity and lots of research. And for good measure, there's usually a sprinkling of love, new friendships, coming of age and lives being changed for the better.

How have you promoted your YA novels? What methods have worked well for you, what  haven't?
I've found the best method of promotion for my books is word of mouth through the Aussie book blogging community. I've tried hard to get to know the people who are reading and reviewing YA (some of them teens themselves) and have sent books to them, met them in person and engaged in lots of social media chatting. I commissioned a book trailer for Head of the River, which was done by a school student and it was super professional and a good investment. I've had less success with competitions and giveaways, book postcards and trying to break into overseas markets. Talking at schools and youth festivals is always a winner, too, for getting to know my YA audience.

What are some of your rituals or processes for writing novels?
If I'm writing a new WIP I try to sit down to write for a minimum of 500 words a day and I usually write much more than that. But setting a low word count helps to make it seem more manageable. I write my first draft without going back and re-reading, unless for a workshop group. Sometimes I'll take the first draft away for a few days or a week to a 'writing camp' in the bush or beach and turn off wifi and go for it!

When it's finished, I print it out, and take out my red pen. The third draft is usually when I bring in my beta readers. I won't show my publisher until it's as tight and polished as possible.


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by Don Bosco 
Published by Marshall Cavendish

My YA thriller co-authored with 
Ning Cai the celebrity magician and author.
Published by Marshall Cavendish