When I was a kid, I was a daydreamer. I would press my head against the train carriage window, and as Sydney scrolled past, I imagined an epic fantasy story playing out across its rooftops. It’s weird to think I’m sitting here years later, typing the words: my first fantasy series is complete.
My books always seem to be a reaction to the ones that come before them. The First Third was super honest, a reaction to all the walls I built around myself as a teenager writing Loathing Lola. The Sidekicks took the queerness that was often sidelined in The First Third and brought it to the fore, at least in the first part. Monuments was a page-turning adventure in direct opposition to The Sidekicks‘ heavy stillness. In bolting to its conclusion, Monuments sowed a ton. Rebel Gods is the reaping.
Monuments was me turning my daydreams into reality. At least, an ink-and-paper reality. It was always envisioned as the first half of a larger story, but I’ll be honest, the shape of the second half has always been in flux … This year has been about finding Rebel Gods … considering everything that Monuments set up and wondering what I wanted to pay off. Our heroes, Connor, Sally and Locky were always going to contend with the aftermath of their adventure and face off against the gods of love and fear, but what surprised me most was that as I wrote it, that story evolved into one about changing relationships: namely, the one between single mothers and their grown sons.
Between daydreaming Monuments and writing its sequel, I’ve moved out of home and my relationship with my mum has evolved. In my newbie gods I had the perfect vehicle through which to explore that evolution, so I ditched my plan to incorporate the father more prominently (sorry, not at all sorry), and tested that mother-son relationship that I established in the first book. While Monuments was a story about running away and coming home, Rebel Gods is about growing up.
And I can’t wait for you to read it.
While I’ve got you, I want to extend a special thank you to Melina Marchetta for helping launch Rebel Gods virtually.
I can’t say enough nice things about Melina, but I’ll try. When I met her as a young’un, despite being the only person in Australia who hadn’t read Looking For Alibrandi, I was ready to kiss the ring, tell her what a formative novel it had been. But before I could spew my BS, she looked at me and said, “I would show your short story to my Year 10s.” And instead of letting me insincerely fawn over her, she was generous enough to make me feel like her peer. She lifted me up, like she lifts so many emerging writers.
I read her work over the years, savouring every word because she was somehow more talented than I was going to tell her she was when we met. This year, her adult books were a comfort and an inspiration to me during the lockdown, and her latest, What Zola Did on Monday, is such a treat for beginner readers. I can’t wait for all the munchkins in my life to grow up a little so I can gift them the whole set and watch them treasure it.
People see her success and say they want to be like Melina Marchetta. After getting glimpses at who she is over the years, I say we should all want to be like Melina Marchetta.