27.6.08

Sonya Hartnett at Bookwitch

There's a great profile of Australian writer Sonya Hartnett over at Bookwitch.

If you're not sure who Sonya Hartnett is then it may help to state that she's the most recent winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And if you don't know about the Astrid Lindgren prize then it may get your attention when the phrase six hundred thousand dollars is thrown about.

I was pleased to see the Bookwitch profile, partly because her profiles are always so enjoyable, but also because I was quite curious about Hartnett. I've just recently read her latest novel The Ghost's Child and while I quite loved it, I couldn't quite see what made it a YA novel rather than just a novel. On consideration, this may be a good thing.

Here's a little taste of the interview:

Sonya seems very sure that she doesn’t write books for Harry Potter fans - which I happen to think isn’t entirely true - so I ask her who does read her books. She reckons she writes for “Columbine kids”, those who feel “they don’t have a place in mainstream life”. I suggest that Columbine kids aren’t necessarily readers of books at all, and she agrees that they “probably play computer games” instead. Her readers aren’t interested in “things they are generally expected to be interested in. That’s why my books will never make me a fortune.” Except now her books have done just that.

To find out how Sonya decides who her readers are, I ask where she meets them. She doesn’t do many school visits, although there was a time when she had to, for the money. She’s always had a part time job, too, to make ends meet. “It’s not worth it” she says, referring to schools, and how most of the pupils don’t have an interest in seeing her. “When they make a special effort to come and see me at a festival, it’s always a pleasure to meet them.”

But “it’s a long time since I was a teenager. Maybe the kind of teenager I write for doesn’t exist any more…” Sonya herself hasn’t read Harry Potter, and doesn’t want to. She says about people who read her books, that if they don’t like it, they should look for another book, and she will look for another reader.

2 comments:

bookwitch said...

Thank you, Sara, for this. I have met many blank faces when I mention Sonya Hartnett. But she may be marginally better known than Ryoji Arai who shared the prize with Philip Pullman in 2005.

O'Leary said...

Well now I'm going to have to go look up Ryoji Arai, aren't I? I do think one of the real boons of prizes like this one (other than the huge influx of cash), is that they draw attention to writers whose name may be new to many people. Hartnett was a new one on me - but sometimes it's nice to arrive late on the scene and have a whole backlist to look forward to.