Shirley has done amazingly fun blog posts and interviews at the prior stops on her blog tour, so be sure to check them out. Today, she's taking a trip back to her high school days. Pay close attention because we want you to grade her as a student when she's done! Here's Shirley on her day at YA Author Heights High:
Okay, so Shirley stuffs up the flux capacitor and goes back to high school!
First Period, Social Studies:
What I've noticed about YA Author Heights High is that everyone is super nice. They're all like "oh so what are you writing?" and "Yes, I completely understand Second Novel Syndrome, how about we sit together at lunch behind Writers Block and swap manuscripts?" and "That Librarian, Ms Oprah has got like favouritism or something". But I can't help but notice like every other school, it has CLIQUES.
The Popular People: Everyone is like in awe of them. They are like The Cullens. Everyone stares at them in the lunch hall. I mean that Markus Zusak is pretty good looking and School Captain Melina Marchetta is amazing. And I wish I was Cath Crowley and I wish John Marsden would look my way just the once. I would be so jealous of Jaclyn Moriarty if only she wasn't so darn nice. They always get the gold stars from the teachers and the school loves them too. One day maybe I will be able to share my Vegemite crispbread with them, but maybe this is just a pipe dream.
The Cool Kids: Wow, Lili Wilkinson has the right clothes and hair and she reads the right books and she knows how to tweet the important stuff. And Craig Silvey is the best looking hipster I have ever seen, I hope he asks me to the Year 12 formal. Gabby Williams is instantly cool cos she's from Melbourne. Leanne Hall in vintage black skivvy and capris, oh my. They hang around the bike shed being cool and themselves. They are in it for the ART.
The Newbies: These students have just moved to YAAHH this year and I'm excited. At the moment I am chaperoning Emma Cameron and Pip Harry around and showing them the canteen, toilet block, computer room etc. I reckon they will do well at YAAHH.
The Top Students: Look at those overachievers! That Kirsty Eagar, she's going to graduate and become an International Superstar. And Sonya Hartnett, always winning our school mega awards. Lucy Christopher? I didn't even know she was Australian because she's out of this world. I thought she was British. And Laura Buzo, if she over-achieves with her new novel, she might get inducted into The Popular People cos Laura "Buzo" has got serious "buzz" cred. I wish I knew the secret handshake to get into The Popular People crowd.
The Emo Kid: Me.
Second Period, Art:
I was an A grade student! Shaun Tan eat your heart out. I used to draw a lot when I was very young, when my English wasn't good (I didn't speak English fluently until I was about eight) and drawing was my only medium of expression. I made hundreds of these little picture books. But as I got better at writing my art suffered as a result and these days it's pretty piss poor! But my one Party Trick is that I can draw anything on the spot. You tell me the first thing on my your mind (hippopotamus, potato etc) and I will draw it for you. Here are some things I drew from Preloved. You get 1 point if you can figure out what they are. 2 points if you can specifically locate them in the book and a bonus golden unicorn if you can guess Number 4.
Once upon a time in the 80s, Shirley Marr was born. As a child she read a lot of books and knew at about 10 that she was going to be a writer. If she were able to reign in her personality it would have helped as in high school she refused to take English Lit cos it was "elitist", resigned from the Year Book Committee because they were "elitist" and didn't hand in several major essays in English because the curriculum was "boring". She ended up graduating uni and ended up with that magic occupation starting with "A"! Yes! An... Accountant. But an Awkward Accountant. The other day while walking down the city terrace, she accidentally kicked a lawyer (but it wasn't Julia Lawrinson). One day she decided to send in a manuscript with a terrible submission letter and a box of chocolates (no! The inter webs says you must never do this) to a slush pile. And for some reason the Publisher liked her. And here she is. Newborn Author.
Fourth Period, English:
Shirley's aforementioned original submission letter for Fury:
18 March 2009
Dear Black Dog Books [actual person's name redacted by The Readventurer],
Please find enclosed a three-chapter submission of my young adult manuscript
Fury. It’s a contemporary story of murder, revenge, blood and love set in a high
school, told by one snarky narrator. It is my first submission ever, so I hope that
you like it.
I decided to submit to black dog because I like the fact that you are a young,
passionate and fun publishing house with a sense of humour and if the answer is
a yes, then I think I would fit right in. I also think Dragon Keeper is awesome and
I would very much like to be published by you if it means I get to meet Carole
I believe that I have heaps of books inside of me (not just the one) and I would
like a chance to develop all these ideas. I believe I am committed in the long run
as I write every single day of my life and have done so for the past ten years. I
don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Unfortunately, I have to tell you the truth that I don’t have a biography to attach
as per your submission guidelines. The only other thing I’ve ever had published
is my honours thesis called “Locus of Control and Budgetary Participation: An
Investigation into Budgetary Slack in Management Accounting”. It failed to
produce any concrete findings (as well as being extremely boring), but I won the
Asian Review of Accounting Dissertation Prize for highest scored thesis paper
based on the writing alone, so I hope this is proof that I can actually write.
Please also find a box of chocolates for you all to share. I don’t expect that a box
of chocolates will make you want to publish my manuscript, but may I suggest
that you enjoy them while you read my manuscript…
At lunch I find in my lunch box all the food items from Preloved. With cheat-sheet for our American and International friends.I'm hoping that since my lunch box is so awesome Markus Zusak will quit making himself so handsome on the rugby field and come sit with me.
1. A raspberry licorice strap. There are no raspberry liquorice straps in the US? I think liquorice straps are a traditional UK thing. Anyway, it is just really long liquorice that can be peeled off into smaller straps which is then eaten. It's hours of fun and variation. I've been known to plait 3 smaller straps together before eating them together.
2. Milo. Australia's favourite chocolate/malt powder for making it into a drink. It will turn you into a cricket superstar, I swear. You can mix it with milk for a cold drink (make sure you actually use more milo than milk for a traditional Aussie way) or make it hot and then top it off with like 3 tablespoons of milo 'sprinkling". I don't understand how chocolate gets promoted in Australia as being an "energy food", but hey, it's the Big Brown Land after all. Do you have Ovaltine? It's similar, but Ovaltine is nowhere near as GOOD.
3. A cheesymite scroll: A spiral pastry with a cheese and Vegemite filling, hence "cheesymite". Popular as a mid-morning snack, eaten cold. They can be homemade or purchased from Australian chain bakeries such as "Brumbies" (how Aussie is the name of this bakery chain?)
4. Weet-Bix. The Breakfast of Champions. "Mate, how many can you do?" the TV commercial will ask of you. "Top Aussies" can do about twenty in one go. They are like slabs of wheat that taste like… absolutely nothing. But they are totes nutritious. I can only "do" about 3. I know, I'm a weakling and will never be a Socceroo.
The regular science teacher is "chucking a sickie" (Aussie slang for having a sick day) and the substitute teacher has failed to show up. Flann says you call them "subs" in the States, but here it is just "substitute teacher". Shirley has decided to wheel out the ancient TV and video player to play a movie instead.
Shirley's 80s movie choices are:
1. The Princess Bride - I love this movie. I bet you can't tell!
2. Labyrinth - Teenage girl's "coming of age" symbolically manifests itself into a fantasy sequence involving a massive inescapable maze, a groping pit of hands and David Bowie in lycra tights. And this is supposed to be for little kids.
3. The Dark Crystal - I'm sad how they don't make kid's movies like this anymore.
4. The NeverEnding Story - ditto
5. Return to Oz - I don't really like The Wizard of Oz. But I LOVE the sequel. Dorothy is dragged to have Electric Shock Therapy after confessing to having "been to Oz" and escapes with the said magical friends. Now that's more Shirley's style!
6. Pretty in Pink - I love how John Cryer used to be young, cute and a contender for Movie Boyfriend. I think I would rather endure like, The Never Ending Story II before Two and a Half Men.
7. The Breakfast Club - *doodles "SM 4 MZ 4EVA" on desk*. If I can "accidentally" switch on the bunsen burner and maybe set Melina's hair on fire and blame it on Markus Zusak and then "act out of line" during Math, then hopefully we can end up in after school detention together. Sweet!
8. Back to the Future - I love but don't understand this movie.
9. Tron - I also love but don't understand this movie. Tron sequel thing - go way. You are too cool and that it not the point.
10. The Goonies. That is all. The Goonies!
[editor's note: TONS of these were released in 1985. What a crazy amazing year for movies! -F]
Sixth Period, Maths:
A normal Shirley sentence: "Something-something Pollywaffle Wagon Wheel Gotye something-something Golden Gaytime Jason Donovan Frilled-neck Lizard" What language is this?? It's 'Strine of course!
Here's a handy Aussie English translator for when you read Preloved:
Bloke: a guy. Can be embellished as "top bloke" - a really great guy
Dag/Daggy: something really uncool and possibly nerdy. Can be used as an expression of endearment e.g.: "You dag!" which roughly translate to "Your poor dear!"
Fair dinkum: The real deal, something genuine and "true blue". When used incredulously, such as "fair dumkum, mate!" it becomes a rhetorical "Are you being real?"
Fair go: to give something a fair chance.
Fish and Chips: a popular Friday night meal, inherited from the British, consisting of battered fish and chips, wrapped up in butcher's paper.
Grouse: Great. Not gross I guess, but… grouse. Anything can be "grouse" e.g. - Your hair looks grouse, this book I'm reading is grouse.
Neighbours: a once popular nightly Australian TV family drama about the inhabitants of "Ramsey Street". In it's hey day in the 80s the defining moment was when loveable female mechanic played by then-rising-star Kylie Minogue (Charlene) marries the hottie Scott (Jason Donavon, who now has totally jumped the shark) and it was the besets TV wedding ever.
Spewin': similar to "I can't believe this is happening" or when used to sympathise with another person - "I'm so sorry to hear"
Strewth: used to express shock, as in "I can't believe this!"
Since Preloved is so hard to find in the US/Canada and her publisher (black dog books, an imprint of Walker Books) was kind enough to send us two copies (one of which we already gave away--Congrats, Missie!), we'd like to tour our other copy to give a few more people the chance to read it. Don't forget to enter the giveaways on earlier blog tour stops as well for books and a few other goodies!
We will see what the demand is like for a book tour, so fill out this form if you are interested. We'll definitely include the first 20 people to respond but maybe more, depending on the success of the initial effort.
Thanks for joining us today, Shirley! You were a wonderful student!
Let us know in the comments what high school clique YOU belonged to, what grade you'd give Shirley, or what your favorite period was in today's back to the future trip to high school was.