Chachic's Book Nook


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Marchetta Madness: Random Facts

While doing research for Marchetta Madness (also known as Googling), I came across some pieces of information that I thought fellow Marchetta fans would like to know. I’ve compiled all of them in this post.
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The Italian Che and Chi is a K sound so Melina Marchetta’s surname is pronounced Marketta. (This is something that I asked the author herself to clarify – I’ve been pronouncing her name wrong all along!)
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Did you know that Australian edition The Piper’s Son beautiful cover design has something in common with Australian singer-songwriter Pete Murray’s album Feeler?

Australian cover for The Piper's Son

I think it’s fitting for Tom to share a cover design with another musician. :P
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I want to share this one because my current favorite song is Samson, which I discovered while organizing Marchetta Madness. From Penguin Australia’s Q And A With Melina Marchetta:

The soundtrack to accompany The Piper’s Son would include…
Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly, Samson by Regina Spektor, Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars, Smokers Outside the Hospital Door by Editors, Crazy Train by The Waifs, Union City Blues by Blondie, Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan, The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice and This Year’s Love by David Gray.
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The cover for the Australian edition of Froi of the Exiles is based on a self-portrait taken by photographer Zack Ahern. You can learn more about the process through an interview that Jo of Wear the Old Coat posted a few months ago.


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Couldn’t resist sharing this because it’s about Jonah Griggs. From an interview over at watchYAreading:

Can you tell us something about Jonah Griggs no one else (or at least, not too many people) knows?
Okay, firstly it will be a chore and a half to cast him. The actor will have to be between 18-21 and for me, he is a very very young Russell Crowe. Secondly, in The Piper’s Son, Ben the violinist (from OTJR) lives in Waterloo so I think he’s living with Jonah who tells Taylor in OTJR that he lives in Waterloo. Thirdly, Jonah’s had a few different names in the history of this novel. The first being Jasper (my dog) and then Sebastian Griggs. Fourthly, he appears in The Gorgon in the Gully which is about his little brother, Danny. Finally, he is similar to a hawke and a wolf and Will Trombal – He mates for life.

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Did you know that The Gorgon in the Gully is a children’s book about Jonah Griggs’ little brother Danny? I wasn’t able to write a review for this week but trust me, it’s a charming little novel with snippets that include a certain swoon-worthy Cadet, even though he’s out in the bush.

Here’s the summary from Melina Marchetta’s website:

Beyond the basketball courts and classrooms of St. Raph’s is a gully where things disappear forever. Danny Griggs has heard stories about a Gorgon that lies down there. So why does Danny volunteer to face the Gorgon when he’s been petrified of everything all his life?

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Have you all seen this mini-documentary made by Penguin about Melina Marchetta?


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Interviews with Melina Marchetta all over the blogosphere:
March 16, 2012 – watchYAreading
December 13, 2011 – Lorraine Marwood
December 7, 2011 – because writing is my vice
Noevmber 25, 2011 – Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing
March 15, 2011 – The Happy Nappy Bookseller
March 8, 2011 – I Read Banned Books
March 7, 2011 – YA bibliophile
March 5, 2011 – Zoe’s Book Reviews
March 3, 2011 – books4yourkids, Not Enough Bookshelves
January 11, 2011 – post-teen trauma
June 23, 2010 – The Story Siren
March 9, 2010 – YA reads
March 2, 2010 – Persnickety Snark
October 11, 2009 – YA Highway
May 17, 2009 – Literary Life
May 30, 2008 – Chicklish

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List of Marchetta Madness posts:
Discussion post about what was your first Marchetta
Elizabeth Fama, “Melina Marchetta, From the Perspective of a New Fan”
Jo of Wear the Old Coat, “An Ode to Marchetta’s Men”
Trish Doller shares how Jonah Griggs inspired her own characters
Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile, “How Saving Francesca Often Saves My Day”
Flannery of The Readventurer tells us why she loves The Piper’s Son
Megan Whalen Turner shares her favorite aspect of Melina Marchetta’s novels
Nomes of Inkcrush discusses both the book and movie for Looking for Alibrandi
Lisa and Maja of The Nocturnal library talk about Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles
Joy of 132 Minutes, “Evanjalin of the Monts”
Alexa of 132 Minutes, “Before I Read a Melina Marchetta Novel”
Kirsty Eagar made a video of her chatting with Melina Marchetta
Melina Marchetta, “The sequel, the companion novel, the audience and me.”

Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Alex of A Girl, Books and Other Things, Favorite Secondary Characters
Alex of A Girl, Books and Other Things, “At the Movies: Looking for Alibrandi”
Aaron of Guy Gone Geek, “The Duality of a Narrative”
Alex of A Girl, Books and Other Things, “A Romantic Spotlight”
Lissa of The Real Book Critique, “Magic Writing by Melina Marchetta”

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And that wraps up the amazing week that Marchetta Madness has been. Thank you to everyone who participated! Maraming salamat. :) Do you have other bits of Marchetta goodness that you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.


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Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Melina Marchetta

I’m elated that I have the Queen of Aussie YA herself on the blog today. Please give it up for the amazing author who gave us such beautiful books to enjoy – MELINA MARCHETTA!

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The sequel, the companion novel, the audience and me.

I’ve said more than once that there have been big surprises for me in my writing life and one of them is Tom Finch Mackee. When he came back to me in 2007 I was midway through writing Finnikin. I had never written two novels at the same time and I chose to put Tom on hold. But I thought of him all the time and we kind of talked in that strange dialogue writers have with their characters. In a way I had to get to know him again. I had first introduced him in Saving Francesca as a 17 year old boy who was never going to be anything more than a bully in the lives of the new girls in his school. But I was teaching boys at the time and the students I first believed to be bullies ended up being pretty decent. Tom got caught up in that decency.

Sequels and companion novels are difficult because you constantly question what you owe your audience. I have an incredibly loyal readership regardless of whether they’ve liked every one of the novels or not, and I’m very much aware of them out there. It’s a strange intimacy that develops between a writer and a reader. While I’m writing, however, I won’t allow those readers in my head. So when I question what I owe them, the answer is usually, I owe them nothing. Which seems harsh, but the moment my writing is shaped by someone other than myself, I begin to let down a whole lot of other readers and there’s less truth in the story I want to tell.

A few times I’ve broken that rule, though. When I wrote The Piper’s Son, I introduced a whole lot of new characters and re-introduced some old characters that needed to be part of Tom’s journey. But I cheated with Will Trombal because really, Will didn’t need to be part of Tom’s journey. Tom can’t stand Will. But many of my young readers especially, were very keen to know what happened between Francesca and Will. Every time I did a school visit or a festival, I’d be asked about them. Deep down, I was curious about the pair myself and although I pretended that Will was out of the picture temporarily in The Piper’s Son because I sent him overseas to work, I couldn’t resist flying him back for a long weekend. Anyone who’s read the novel would also notice how I snuck him in Chapter One the night before he flies out. I’m very weak in that way.

There are problems when you cheat. Most writers have a nazi editing voice that lives in their head. The Voice has the capacity to nag at the beginning of the process and then hide for ages and ages. During later drafts of The Piper’s Son mine revealed itself again.

The Voice: Like, really, what does Will have to do with Tom’s journey?
ME: Mumble mumble mumble Francesca mumble mumble mumble.
The Voice: Francesca? But this isn’t her story, fool? It’s Tom’s and Georgie’s.
ME: Mumble mumble mumble but I love Will mumble mumble.
The Voice: Then put him to work!

The Voice is always right. It’s actually quite powerful because it has conversations with others as well. Usually soon after, my editor will say, ‘By the way, let’s talk about Will? Why does he really need to be part of Tom’s story?”

So regardless of whether I included Will for my Francesca readers, I had to put him to work. He had to spend time with Tom, instructed by both Frankie the character, and me the writer. Will’s words had to somehow shape Tom’s journey and teach him a thing or two about human nature and relationships. The character of Will was also utilized to bring much needed humour in what could be a dark novel. Not that Will has a sense of humour at all, but his scenes had an element of humour in them. One of my favourites, later included, was between Tom and Will at the football game.

The other character that surprised me into getting his own novel was Froi. I know for sure that I had no intention of writing his story when I started Finnikin because I would never have called a protagonist “Froi”. It’s a bit of a blah name and if I was serious about him, I would have named him Tariq or Akbar or Olivier.

I also know that if I had his own story in mind, I would have changed what Froi tried to do to Evanjalin. It’s not a good place to begin a sequel because I knew for sure that the novel would be criticized by some readers before they read the first page, and that I would lose a whole lot of other readers who were disgusted by Froi’s actions in Finnikin. How could one not be? But what I wanted to show was how that single heinous act became part of his bond to women and to himself. Female characterisation and the way men and women interact with each other is paramount in my story telling, whether in my contemporary or fantasy novels, and I’d love to think that after reading the whole 600 pages, an independent reader would make up their own mind about Froi and his treatment of women. I was very conscious of not insulting the Finnikin reader. For that reason, I set myself three rules: don’t forget what Froi tried to do; don’t let Froi forget what he tried to do; don’t let the reader forget what Froi tried to do.

But there was also a character in Froi of the Exiles that I included to make my Finnikin readers happy. Not Finnikin and his Queen, however. Both characters are important to this trilogy, especially in Quintana of Charyn. My big cheat was Beatriss of the Flatlands. I wanted closure because I left her relationship with Trevanion in some sort of limbo. I had absolutely no regret not tying up the pieces in Finnikin because it was too soon. But I wanted their relationship played out in the real time of a novel, rather than the three years in between. My decision was questioned once or twice in early edits by both the Voice and my editors. I could understand why. Beatriss didn’t belong in Froi’s journey. So I made her count in other ways, especially when it came to understanding what life had been like for the Lumaterans throughout the curse. She was also used to compliment the character of Phaedra of Alonso. Beatriss and Phaedra were similar in my eyes. They both had an abundance of strength, concealed by their own fear as well as society’s perception of them.

There have been other little cheats along the way. The cameo by Ben the Violinist in The Piper’s Son. He and his band were my gift to Jellicoe readers. Some didn’t pick up the references, others have told me they burst out crying when they realized who Ben was. And of course there’s Danny Griggs’ older brother in The Gorgon in the Gully. Even Taylor makes a cameo appearance as part of a photograph in a sock drawer. Sometimes cheating is a lovely thing to do. I’m thinking of making it a habit. 

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Yes please, would love to see more cheating! :P Melina, we can never thank you enough for writing wonderful novels that speak to all of us in many different ways. Thank you for graciously doing a guest post for this week (also for commenting on the posts), I’m sure I’m not the only fan who appreciates this. :) I can’t believe it’s the last day of Marchetta Madness!


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Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Joy of 132 Minutes

Joy is one of the ladies behind 132 Minutes, a blog dedicated to Melina Marchetta fans. If you’re a true Marchetta fan, you’d get the name of the blog. :P Go check it out and follow them on Twitter. They’re currently having an awesome giveaway of six Melina Marchetta novels. Today is all about Marchetta’s fantasy novels as Joy talks about Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock. Heads up, this post contains spoilers so avert your eyes if you haven’t read the book yet (go grab a copy and read that instead).

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Evanjalin of the Monts

“Do not underestimate this girl,” the priest-king said quietly.

Finnikin gave a humorless laugh. “I am with the King’s First Man, the captain of the King’s Guard, and the priest-king of Lumatere. The most powerful men in our kingdom, apart from the King himself. All brought together by her. At what point have I led you to believe that I have underestimated her?”

Chapter 10, Finnikin of the Rock, exiles and fever camp in Sorel.

Evanjalin was a woman with a purpose. Driven by an incredible desire to save her people, the ways and means with which she achieved what she’d set out to do was rife with well-meaning deceit and hardhearted determination. She was a conniving, lying, thieving and in some instances, vindictive heroine who used her smarts and courage to free her people. She wasn’t the type who wilted under the patronizing opinions of the men that surrounded her and the type who’d never hesitate to maim or even kill to exact justice. She’s a superhero(ine) in every sense of the word; a woman possessed and obsessed with seeing Lumaterans back where they belong. And for every lie, every scheme, every single act of calculated bravery, this woman imparted a piece of her soul and heart that truly embodied a strong female lead who would remain my standard of measure for every book that graces my bookshelves.

Without giving too much of the story away, here are some of Evanjalin’s gambits of trickeries that eventually led to her people’s freedom and secured Lumaterans of their rightful royals. These are only the ones that in my opinion were catalysts to the story and to the series.

1. Evanjalin convinced the Sorel authorities to arrest Finnikin, imprisoning him in the mines where he would be in the mercy of a savage prisoner, named Trevanion.
2. When Finnikin escaped, she then tricked him into saving the thief of Sarnak from the hands of the Sorel traders who bought and sold humans as slaves. The same thief who stole from her, spat at their faces every chance he got, and tried to rape her.
3. She convinced everyone that she only walk the sleep when she bled. They didn’t know that more often than not, she “made” herself bleed.

I have read Finnikin of the Rock at least half a dozen times; and each time, I’m left feeling too much and breathless by the beautiful, visceral writing. The heart-wrenching stories of the people of Lumatere never fail to bring on bouts of choked sobs and seemingly ceaseless tears. But trust me when I say the bliss at the end of the story was well worth it.

I’m glad I got to be a part of Marchetta Madness here at Chachic’s blog. For lack of a better word, I’ve been pimping Ms. Marchetta’s books any chance I get. Her books are something that needed to be shared – for the incredible writing, for the soul-searching stories and the wonderful characters that everyone should know.

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Thank you, Joy! Me too, I’ve been pimping MM’s books, trying to encourage everyone to read them. I’d be thrilled of Marchetta Madness manages to convince more readers to pick up MM’s novels.

Check out these Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Aaron wrote about The Duality of a Narrative (with Jellicoe Road as a jump off point) over at Guy Gone Geek
Alex wrote a review for Looking for Alibrandi, the movie over at A Girl, a Book and Other Things


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Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Lisa and Maja of The Nocturnal Library

Lisa and Maja are the blogging duo behind The Nocturnal Library. Lisa is based in Italy while Maja is in Croatia (and I’m in the Philippines) – further proof that Melina Marchetta’s books are being read and loved all over the world. They’re here to talk about the books in the Lumatere Chronicles: Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles, Melina Marchetta’s fantasy novels. Yay, Lisa and Maja!

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Lisa: When I think Melina Marchetta I think contemporary fiction. The first book I read was Jellicoe Road and I loved it. I then read Saving Francesca and I loved it. I read Looking for Alibrandi and I loved it. I read The Piper’s Son and I plead temporary insanity for not being crazy about it ( a re-read is in order soon)
I was more than a little worried when I realized Finnikn was fantasy. How many authors can nonchalantly be good in both genres? Help me out here ‘cause my answer is none.
I shouldn’t have worried: Marchetta actually writes fantasy in a way not many others can do. Her added value is that, beside a great fantasy plot, her characterization is just masterful, of course.

Maja: First of all, we’re both incredibly honored that the lovely Chachic thought of us when she started planning the Marchetta Madness. Contemporary YA is never my first choice, although there are a few exceptions. I always enjoyed escaping into impossible worlds more than I enjoyed reading about this one. That’s why Lumatere Chronicles will always be the first books I’ll pick up when I need to be reminded of the magic Marchetta creates with words. (Josie Alibrandi would be my second choice, but not before I reread both Finnikin and Froi). To make the long story short, thank you, Chachic, for having us, and thank you, Melina Marchetta, for giving us amazing books to talk about.

Favorite book:

Lisa: Can I plead the fifth?

This question is unfair. I like both Finnikin and Froi in different ways. I thought the general message was deeper in Finnikin but Froi is on a whole different level plot-wise.

Maja: I agree that it’s a difficult question to answer, almost impossible, but at the end of the day, I think I prefer Froi of the Exiles. As much as I liked Finnikin of the Rock (in fact, I think it was the first high fantasy novel I ever really loved), in many ways, Froi of the Exiles seemed more mature to me. I think that’s why many people think that it isn’t exactly YA. There is more of everything in Froi: more love, more disaster, more suffering, more characters to care deeply about.

Best scene:

Lisa: Oddly enough, the most intense scene for me was in Finnikin though; I won’t easily forget those mass graves anytime soon.

Maja: For me, the most powerful scenes are always more personal. Without spoiling too much, the scene that really stayed with me happened between Froi and Quintana in a cave. I remember shaking like a leaf and rereading it two times just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

You get so poetical :D

Lol, you’re mean. :P

Well, I can just picture you shaking like a leaf in the wind :D I am most certainly not mean.

Wait! I got another scene that impressed me (this is spoilerish). When Arjuro’s eyes bleed because he sees the golden writings.

Best male character:

Lisa: Again, I feel like we’re comparing David and Goliath here, for some reason. My best male character is certainly Froi, hands down; his character development is amazing when compared to say, Finnikin’s, starting from when we meet him in the first book as a streetrat to his predominant role in, duh, Froi of the Exiles.

Maja: You know I simply adore Froi. He is tough on the surface, but his vulnerability is so obvious that it makes me very protective of him. He is a character that aims for your maternal instincts. But I still think I like Finnikin just a little bit more, simply because it’s impossible not to love him.

I guess I like Froi more than you because my instincts toward him are so NOT maternal. :D

Really? Huh. I never really saw him that way. Finnikin yes, but not him. Maybe because he’s so damaged.

Best female character:

Maja: Lirah (character in Froi of the Exiles) because she’s a survivor at all costs. After everything that life threw at her, she is still beautiful and fierce. I also love her dry sense of humor that shines through when you least expect it. I know you expected me to pick either Evanjalin or Quintana, and to be honest, I did too, but when I really thought about it, I was absolutely sure it’s Lirah.

I’ll be definitely more banal than you Maja and say Quintana. I like my characters to be complex, unpredictable and of different shades of grey (this is the moment when you wonder why, exactly, do I read all that vanilla romance… good question. The answer is: I also like when my brain turns to mush, ok?) So Quintana is an amazing character throughout all the second book. I expect a lot from her and can’t wait to see what happens in “her” book.

Most annoying character:

Lisa: In the first book, Froi. Yes, really. I kept wondering what his purpose in the economy of the book was supposed to be. I didn’t even know there was a Froi of the Exiles in the works. I loathed him for his behavior and found him downright slimy. What a transformation in the second book.

In Froi, the most annoying character for me was Gargarin. I hated Bestiano, but Gargarin was just like a fly buzzing around me on a hot day (see? I can be poetical too :D)

Maja: Haha, yes, you’re just like Neruda on one of his most productive days. To be honest, I don’t have a most annoying character. Bestiano scared the bejeebers out of me, and I kind of liked grumpy Gargarin.

There were characters I despised and characters I adored, but I felt they were all essential.

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Grazie, Lisa! Hvala, Maja! I guess it’s pretty obvious from this post that Melina Marchetta excels in writing both in the contemporary and fantasy genres. We can’t say the same thing for other authors.


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Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Jo of Wear the Old Coat

How did I know that Jo from Wear the Old Coat is a Melina Marchetta fan? She was lucky enough to meet the Queen of Aussie YA in person! You can read all about it in this post. I was thrilled when Jo said that she’ll write about MM’s boys and that she’ll do it through a poem. I feel so fancy, no one has ever written a poem for my blog before. Take it away, Jo!

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An Ode to Marchetta’s Men.

When I received an e-mail from the lovely Chachic,
To write a guest post on Double M for her beautiful Nook,
I sat for a minute looking at my MM shelf.
(Yes I actually have one for she has written many a book)

“Which book is my favourite?” I wondered.
“Jellicoe? The Piper’s Son? Finnikin?” I mused.
I guess the real question I had to ask myself was:
Which of these books left my heart more battered and bruised?

When I get asked why I love these books
I never know where to start.
But I guess when it comes down to it, it’s how
Ms Marchetta’s characters completely steal my heart.
Their ups and their downs
Their highs and their lows
And how they always manage to get to back their feet
When it’s all come to blows.

And even though that is true,
It’s…um… not the only reason why.
Because… um….oh-my-goodness,
Melina Marchetta sure knows how to write a guy.

Jonah’s clad in uniform and Jacob rides his bike,
And Tom is in the kitchen thinking of that girl all day.
And then you get the one who just hangs around scantily clad

…..

(Oh come on, I can’t be the only person who pictures Froi that way)

And even though these boys occasionally mess up,
They all know exactly what the word “respect” means.
And even though it sometimes takes them a while,
They always treat their ladies like absolute queens.

(Not that MM’s girls would
Let it be any other way
Because if these blokes stepped out of line
Their bums would be kicked all the live long day)

You may say it’s unhealthy to love a “fictional” boy,
And that we wouldn’t last a day… never mind for ages.
Because what kind of relationship could ever be
When one half of you exists solely within a book’s pages?

But until you’ve met Jonah, Finnikin and Froi
And Tom (whom I will always love with giddy abandon)
Jacob, Lucian and…*sigh*… OK, I guess Will,
You haven’t got a leg to stand on.

So please pick up one of these books,
I promise you’ll love these boys for years.
But if any of you come near Mr Mackee,
It’s gonna end in tears.
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Love this, Jo! I tried to string together a couple of lines to thank you:

I’m grateful to the awesome Jo,
For her beautiful poem.
It’s always nice to chat,
When we’re talking about MM’s boys.
I also just want to say,
my favorite is still Jonah Griggs. ♥

Whew, that was hard! My lines don’t even rhyme. I don’t think I have what it takes to be a poet. Can you write a poem related to Melina Marchetta’s books? Also, who’s your favorite Marchetta guy? In your opinion, who’s the most swoon-worthy of them all? :)


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Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Elizabeth Fama

Elizabeth Fama is the author of Overboard and the upcoming novel, Monstrous Beauty. Now I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t read either of those two (I’m planning to read them though). But Elizabeth and I have chatted several times about books and I do know that she has excellent taste. When I found out that she’s a Melina Marchetta fan, I told her I’d love to have her on the blog. Please welcome Elizabeth, as she talks about how brilliant our favorite author’s writing is.

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Melina Marchetta, From the Perspective of a New Fan

I’m new to Marchetta’s work, but it only took ON THE JELLICOE ROAD to get me hooked and leave me begging Chachic to participate in Marchetta Madness. I’ve loaded up FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK on my Kindle (seriously, Amazon, only $3.49?) and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be flipping that puppy on with delight. I’ve read dozens of reviews of FINNIKIN, and I’m giddy-excited about it, in the way you get when you know that the book you’re about to read will be magnificent, that you still have the whole journey before you. If you’re reading this you’re probably a book lover, and you understand what I’m talking about.

Since I’m not qualified to discuss Marchetta’s body of work, I’ll tell you instead how it feels for an author to make the discovery of a treasure like her portfolio. It’s a professional find on the order of a tomb full of beautiful artifacts for an archaeologist, except my pharaoh is still producing.

I am on a never-ending quest for brilliance. I admit it’s because I want my own writing to be brilliant. I’m not a casual reader–I can’t afford to be, because my daily reading time is limited. I rarely consume breezy, “popcorn” stories. While they’re fun (and fill an important literary niche), they don’t teach me what I crave. I seek out complicated, layered books. While I read, I’m also researching: studying the voice, plot, characterization, themes, and setting that the author created. In fact, I bought JELLICOE for research: my current manuscript has a first-sex scene in it, and I had been told that Jonah and Taylor’s experience is believably ambiguous in its success, and neither glamorized nor graphic. I’d also heard uncountable reviewers, bloggers, and librarians whom I admire say the book was one of their favorites of all time. That sort of praise can’t be ignored, and dude, they hadn’t even mentioned how smart it is.

A smart book demands, 1. to be read with the reader’s full presence and participation, and 2. to be read again. On your first pass, you sink into the voice, and the plot washes over you but not through you. You’re learning names and places and events, you see the connections but you can’t anticipate them. You don’t mind being confused, because you know you’re in good hands, that the threads will entwine and the result will be oh, so rewarding. I think of it as a gift from the author when I’m dropped into a vivid world, already in progress, rather than told how I got there. Catching up is like landing the TARDIS on an alien planet in another time and using only your wits to navigate the terrain and people. On the second pass through a smart book, you’re free to concentrate on the construction of the connections, on the brush strokes that trick your eyes into seeing reality on a flat canvas.

Marchetta deserves a week of Madness. Debut authors are all the rage right now: publishers and marketers are enamored of them; readers build Goodreads lists around them. And while many authors have stunning debuts (I understand LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is pretty great), there’s a disturbing trend toward “hype” that’s unproductive for the craft. Learning to write is a lifelong process, and you need breathing room to cultivate it, not pressure to produce Part Two in less than a year because your first book sold at auction and you’ve contracted for a series. Seasoned authors like Marchetta (and Megan Whalen Turner, and Tobin Anderson, and Philip Pullman, and…) have blessedly had that breathing room. Marchetta has uncovered her voice organically over the years, and she’s clearly telling the stories that wake her up at night, refusing to be ignored. Learning from other writers is one of my greatest joys as an author, and as I launch into the rest of her books, I know Marchetta has a lot to teach.
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Thank you, Elizabeth! I love this guest post because it gives us an idea of what writers think when they encounter an amazing work of fiction. :) Also, I can’t wait for Elizabeth to read the rest of Marchetta’s novels.


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Marchetta Madness: What was for your first Marchetta?

Marchetta Madness is here! Are you jumping up and down in excitement like I am? Let’s start the week by talking about how we were first introduced to Melina Marchetta’s fabulous novels. I first heard about her through the blogosphere in early 2010, back when I first started following book blogs. I saw Jellicoe Road get rave reviews from the bloggers I follow. When I found out that it was available in local bookstores, I went ahead and grabbed a copy. I started it as soon as I could and was immediately confused. For some reason, I had no idea that it was set in Australia so I was unfamiliar with the school setting (Year Seven, Year Eleven, what? These characters are in high school, right?) and some of the terms (Is singlet a tank top? Looks like pashing means making out?). It was the first Aussie YA novel that I read (and definitely wasn’t the last). I didn’t let the confusion bother me and just went with the flow of the story. Good thing I did because I ended up loving it to bits! Isn’t it amazing how a Filipino reader like myself was able to connect with a novel set in Australia? I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way, Melina Marchetta has quite a following in countries all over the world. I loved how Jellicoe Road made me feel for the characters, how their heartache felt real to me. I mostly read YA fantasy novels back then, thinking that I’d found the genre I could focus on. But discovering Jellicoe Road made me want to read not just the rest of Melina Marchetta’s novels but contemporary YA in general. So I have Melina Marchetta to thank for introducing me to the wonderful world of contemporary YA. I’ve found several favorites since then.

I reread Jellicoe Road a few days ago and it’s still as beautiful and intense as I remembered. If I was the type of person who highlighted favorite scenes, my copy would be one colorful book. Jellicoe Road is also my favorite Marchetta – maybe because it was the first book of hers that I read? In any case, I’m thankful that she’s written several novels because there’s more for all of us to enjoy. What about the rest of you, how did you discover Melina Marchetta and what was her first book that you read? What’s your favorite Marchetta novel? If you haven’t read any of her books (and why haven’t you?!) but have heard about them, how did you find out about the author? Leave a comment or grab the Marchetta Madness poster and make a post in your own blog. Send me a link and I’ll include it in a roundup. Let the madness begin. :D

Scanned image of my Marchetta novels, doesn't include my US hardcover of The Piper's Son and the Kindle edition of Froi of the Exiles


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Marchetta Madness: March 18 to 24

Remember Queen’s Thief Week last January? I had so much fun during that week that I decided to do something similar for one of my favorite authors, the fabulous Melina Marchetta. It’s Marchetta Madness next week! From March 18 to 24, drop by the blog to see what other readers have to say about Melina Marchetta’s books.

Photo source: Persnickety Snark

So many of my blog and Goodreads friends are fellow Marchetta fans and if I could ask everyone to write a guest post, I would. But since I couldn’t squeeze in everyone, I’m inviting all of you to participate by writing your own post about anything related to Melina Marchetta’s books. It can be about your favorite Marchetta novel, a review of one of her books, a post about your favorite character, your favorite romance, anything at all. Send me the link and I’ll include it in the roundup during Marchetta Madness. Also, if you haven’t read any of her books, now’s the time to catch up so you can join the festivities next week. I suggest you start with Jellicoe Road because that was my introduction to the awesomeness that is Melina Marchetta. :)

Thoughts? Are you as excited about this as I am?


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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

I’m a Melina Marchetta fan girl. I love love love both Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son and I’ve read the rest of her contemporary novels. I recently got a copy of her first epic fantasy novel, Finnikin of the Rock, and thought that it would be a good idea to read it along with two blogging buddies – Holly and Janice. I had a lot of fun going through the novel with these two. We would comment on each other’s Goodreads update status and discuss how we felt about the novel as we moved along. I wasn’t surprised that I kept agreeing with everything that they said. Click here to see Janice’s review.

Here’s the summary from Melina Marchetta’s website for those who are curious:

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save the royal house of his homeland, Lumatere. And so he stands on the rock of three wonders with his childhood friend Prince Balthazar and the prince’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood. And Lumatere is safe.

Until the ‘five days of the unspeakable’, when the King and Queen and their children are slaughtered in the palace. And an imposter king takes the throne. And a curse is put on Lumatere, which traps those caught inside and forces thousands of others to roam the land as exiles, dying of fever and persecution in foreign camps.

But ten years later Finnikin is led to another rock to meet the young novice, Evanjalin. A girl plagued by dark dreams, who holds the key to their return to the Land of light…

I knew going in that this wouldn’t be an easy read. Melina Marchetta is one of those authors who can perfectly balance pain and suffering with hope and redemption in their novels. The characters go through so much in the course of the book that readers can’t help but feel for them. Finnikin of the Rock is a classic Marchetta in that sense. Sadly, I didn’t feel like there was a perfect balance of light and dark in this novel. Early in the novel, it was said that Lumatere’s salvation is paved in blood and IT REALLY IS. Sigh, it felt like every character in the novel went through his or her own personal version of hell. It was a wonder that hoped still burned within their hearts. I just wish there was a little bit more love and laughter to lighten things up – an unexpected kindness here and there or a happy situation for some of the characters. As a reader, I felt bogged down by the heaviness of the book’s theme.

The first few chapters were a bit confusing because I felt that I just got thrown into the world and I kept checking the maps to pinpoint the places mentioned. The worldbuilding and the writing weren’t as smooth as I was expecting, it felt uneven in some parts and there were bits that pulled me out of the story. It was a little frustrating that I felt this way because I wanted to love Finnikin of the Rock just as much as Melina Marchetta’s contemporary novels. Having said that, I still cared enough for the characters to want all of them to have a happy ending so I didn’t have a hard time reading until the end. I even read ahead of the assigned chapters for our read along because I was curious where the story would lead. So I think the strength of this fantasy novel lies in the characters and how readers will sympathize with them. Both Finnikin and Evanjalin are strong characters – they had to be to endure everything that they had to go through. There were some parts where I got frustrated by their relationship because both are really stubborn but I guess that’s just part of who they are. I liked that the secondary characters were fully fleshed out and the focus wasn’t just on Finnikin and Evanjalin. My favorite relationship in this book is probably the one between Finnikin and his father.

Finnikin of the Rock is not an easy read. I’m not even sure if it’s classified under young adult because for me, it reads like an adult epic fantasy novel. It’s definitely a worthwhile read if you’re an epic fantasy reader or a Melina Marchetta fan but it’s the kind of book that would make you pick up something light and fun afterwards (well, that’s what happened with me). I think it’s great the author decided to write a novel in a different genre. I have nothing but respect for authors who move away from what they’re known for to see what they’re capable of. I may not have loved this one as much as her other novels but she’s still an auto-read author for me and I actually just started on Froi of the Exiles because I got the galley from NetGalley. Melina Marchetta is still the queen of Aussie YA for me.

Other reviews:
Angieville
Random Musings of a Bibliophile
Persnickety Snark


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Finnikin of the Rock Read-Along

Just wanted to make a quick post saying that I’m reading Finnikin of the Rock by the queen of Aussie YA, Melina Marchetta, along with two of my favorite bloggers: Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog and Holly of Book Harbinger. I have the Aussie edition of the book and I opened up my copy to discover that the inside is just as pretty as the cover. So I decided to take some pictures.

Colored illustration in the inside cover:

Maps:

Section headings:

Chapter headings:

Here’s the summary from Melina Marchetta’s website for those who are curious:

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh in order to save the royal house of his homeland, Lumatere. And so he stands on the rock of three wonders with his childhood friend Prince Balthazar and the prince’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood. And Lumatere is safe.

Until the ‘five days of the unspeakable’, when the King and Queen and their children are slaughtered in the palace. And an imposter king takes the throne. And a curse is put on Lumatere, which traps those caught inside and forces thousands of others to roam the land as exiles, dying of fever and persecution in foreign camps.

But ten years later Finnikin is led to another rock to meet the young novice, Evanjalin. A girl plagued by dark dreams, who holds the key to their return to the Land of light…

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll love this just as much as I loved the author’s contemporary novels. Watch out for our reviews in the coming weeks!

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