Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Trish Doller

Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal, is one of my most anticipated 2012 releases (my review). Did it live up to my expectations? Definitely. Which is why I was ecstatic when Trish mentioned that her main character, Travis, was partly inspired by Melina Marchetta’s Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road. Check out what Trish has to say about how the swoon-worthy Jonah Griggs influenced her writing.

_______________________________________________

I’ve read most of Melina Marchetta’s books, but my favorite remains ON THE JELLICOE ROAD. Why? Two words: Jonah Griggs.

Well, okay, the story is brilliant and beautiful, but for me, Jonah is pretty much the perfect love interest. He’s big, tough, strong, and in the beginning he’s a bit menacing and we learn he’s got a past, so he’s got a bit of bad boy about him. But as the story unfolds, he reveals the softer middle that makes him better than a bad boy. The way he worries about Taylor’s asthma. The way he’s vulnerable around her. And the cranky, gruff way he admits how he feels?

He stops and looks at me. “I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it to be any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

Swoon. This is a boy who will be a rock and woe to anyone who tries to move him. And, as far as I’m concerned, a boy like that is so much better than a bad boy.

When I stared writing the book that would eventually become SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL, the main character was a girl and Travis was meant to be her romantic lead. As I thought about him, I knew I wanted him to have the same kind of tough-guy-with-a-soft-center quality that Jonah Griggs’ possesses.

And then the story changed. Travis became the main character and it was his world that was in turmoil. So the difference between the two boys becomes Jonah’s ability to reveal his softness in layers, while Travis’ vulnerabilities are laid bare for the reader to see. While I still think there’s a lot of Jonah in Travis, when you think about it, who is the real Griggs in SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL? Harper.

A wave of anger crashes over me. At myself for being unable to control my reactions. At Harper for just putting on a smile and saying it’s all good when it’s not all good. I throw my soda cup at the wall. It bursts on impact, splashing Coke everywhere.
“You’re too fucking nice to me.” I’m yelling at her and I don’t know why.
“What do you want me to do, Travis?” she yells back. “Be mad at you about this? Don’t be stupid.”

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like the idea of a female Griggs. Harper doesn’t baby Travis. She doesn’t shrink in the face of his outbursts, either. And when he’s at his lowest, she is a rock and woe to anyone who tries to move her.

So this guest post didn’t turn out exactly as I expected. I was going to tell you how one of Melina Marchetta’s characters inspired one of my own. Turns out, Jonah Griggs actually inspired two. Which is even better.

_______________________________________________

Thank you, Trish! Your guest post is like an ode to Jonah Griggs (which is always a good thing because he’s my favorite Marchetta male lead). Also, I think it’s awesome that he served as an inspiration for your own characters. Fellow Marchetta fans, does this post make you curious about Something Like Normal? 🙂 Who are other fictional characters that remind you of Marchetta’s boys and girls?

Check out these Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Maja reviews Froi of the Exiles over at The Nocturnal Library
Alex talks about her first Marchetta read over at A Girl, Books and Other Things

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!

_______________________________________________
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.
_______________________________________________

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? 🙂

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.

_______________________________________________
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.
_______________________________________________

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.

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. 😀

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

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?