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.

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!)

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. 😛

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.

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.


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.


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?


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


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


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”


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.

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!

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. 


Yes please, would love to see more cheating! 😛 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!

Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Alexa of 132 Minutes

Remember Joy of 132 Minutes from yesterday’s post? Alexa is her partner in crime in maintaining their Melina Marchetta-themed blog. I thought it would be a good idea to put up their posts close together. Here’s Alexa, sharing how she first discovered Jellicoe Road.

Before I Read a Melina Marchetta Novel

I remember the exact day, hour, minute, second I first held a Melina Marchetta novel. The date was January 19, 2010, a Tuesday, and the time was 11:40:45 AM.

Okay, I actually don’t remember the date and time. Ha! I only know all those numbers because I’m still holding on to the library receipt. And even then I was probably browsing around the library for at least thirty minutes before I went to check-out. So I don’t remember the exact second, but I do remember picking up Jellicoe Road from the library shelf, flipping it open to read the summary (again), and hoping that I like it. Because while many people were praising it on their book blogs and Goodreads, I wasn’t sure if Jellicoe Road would be for me. I had no way of knowing that three days later this little book was going to blow my mind to the point where it felt like my life had changed.

A couple weeks prior to that moment, I stumbled upon Jellicoe Road’s Goodreads page for the first time ever. I had never heard of it or Melina Marchetta before in my life. Once I saw the rating, I became curious and wanted to know why it had such an awesome rating. Unfortunately, there were some things holding me back from giving it a chance.

First off, it was a contemporary. While I had already read a few here and there, it wasn’t a genre I went out of my way to read. Jellicoe even sounded different from other contemporaries out there. Reviews mentioned how confusing the beginning was and HarperTeen’s summary made me go ‘HUH?’ It also gave me the impression that it was going to be very serious and depressing. I enjoy a good laugh, and this book didn’t sound like it would have any humor at all! So, I figured it wouldn’t be interesting or exciting, which to me meant it had to be boring.

Not only that, I kept asking myself, “Does it have romance?” I have to admit that I prefer to read books with romance. It doesn’t have to be the focus; it just needs to be satisfying. Assuming that Jellicoe Road didn’t have romance stopped me from wanting to read it. Jellioce’s summary, however, did sort of make it seem like there would be something (“…Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all” and “…the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does”), but would it be enough for me? I really didn’t think so.

For some strange reason, though, I still found myself drawn to it. And after a book blogger I followed read and loved it, I couldn’t control my curiosity any longer and had to know what was up with the novel! Now, that didn’t mean I let my assumptions and expectations go. Right before I started reading it, I totally remember thinking, ‘It’s confusing? Pssh. It can’t be that hard to figure out. I got this!’ The prologue and first chapter set me straight real quick. (I even had to draw a chart to keep track of certain characters, which was actually pretty fun.) And I started to realize how completely wrong I was about Jellicoe Road.

As I read, Jellicoe Road continued to prove me wrong again and again. It had a perfect balance of everything. The characters were incredible. There was some intense romance and friendships and lots of hilarious moments, and all the sadness I was worried about actually captivated me. I was in complete awe. I wondered how I could ever think that I wouldn’t enjoy it! And usually when I read a book there’s always something that I wish the author had done differently; however, that wasn’t the case with Jellicoe. It was flawless to me. It made me want to read more contemporary, and also made me want to give more books a chance and not come up with lame reasons not to read them.

Jellicoe Road was hands down the best reading experience I’ve ever had. I’m forever grateful to Melina Marchetta for writing a book that impacted me and changed my reading expectations. And I have a feeling her novels will always be those books I’ll go back to whenever I need to read something inspiring and truly amazing.


Thank you, Alexa! Like I keep saying the past few days, both Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son are my favorite Marchettas so it makes me happy that you chose to talk about one of them. Drop by 132 Minutes and check out the awesome Marchetta giveaway that they’re having.

Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Flannery of The Readventurer

I first met Flannery of The Readventurer through Goodreads. I’d seen her awesome reviews floating around and immediately wanted to be friends with her. She actually wrote a lovely post about Melina Marchetta the other day together with her co-bloggers, Tatiana and Catie, which you can check out here. Here’s Flannery, talking about The Piper’s Son, the companion novel to Saving Francesca.


I’m a firm believer that the quality of a book is not to be judged solely on the skill of the writer to craft sentences and tightly plot a story. Of course those things matter to an extent, but to me the value of a book increases exponentially if those finely-tuned sentences make me, as a reader, feel something for the character or recollect a memory from my own life. How many times have I read a book where someone close to the main character dies? A staggering number of times, but very few of them have actually made me revisit the pain I felt of losing someone special. How many times have I read a book where someone falls for someone else? Likewise, a huge number, but rarely in a way that brings butterflies skittering around my stomach in remembrance. My favorite book by Melina Marchetta is The Piper’s Son because it does both. It achieves both of these feats and so much more. Here’s a picture I drew as a placeholder for my Jellicoe Road review on Goodreads because Marchetta has the ability to rip the heart out of your chest and then serve it back to you, bit by bit, and you’ll enjoy the process:

Melina Heart

This is totally appropriate for The Piper’s Son

I think one of my favorite aspects of The Piper’s Son is the entire element of forgiveness, both in terms of family and friends. In the sickest of ways, it is those people who have the ability to hurt us the most but there are just some people you can never cut loose. Ever. I guess I see families (and friend groups, which are basically interchangeable with family to me) as a constant balancing act. At any given time, some people are completely stable, some are teetering, and others are holding on with the ends of their fingertips. As a friend and family member, I feel a duty to at least attempt to achieve equilibrium, whether or not that is possible. Young adult books always run the risk of glossing over actual emotional content — a friend will say something awful, the two characters stop talking, maybe a few jabs (verbal or physical) are exchanged, then they have a conversation and make up. Or hold the grudge forever. The Piper’s Son opens with Tom in the hospital. He hasn’t spoken to Francesca (from Saving Francesca) for ages but there she is, waiting for him when he awakens. The characters in TPS are angry for real reasons, they’re harboring so many emotions over events that happened in their lives and it all just feels so much more real than most YA books (or any books) I read. Marchetta writes this about Tom’s aunt Georgie, when she first sees him in the book: “[S]he’s walking across the road toward the house and there’s that look Tom’s become used to in his life with his aunt. It’s the unconditional love that flashes across someone’s face before they remember the shit.” (Loc. 189) Exactly. When I see my friends after some time has passed (years, in many instances) or I hear from my siblings, it’s the happy memories that come back first. The fun times. I can’t pretend I have as much drama going on in my life as the Finch and Mackee families do, but I’m sure it is a universal feeling. And a lot of those relationships are volatile at times, but would I be there for each and every one of them if they were in dire straits? I damn well better be, or I’m a lesser person than I think I am.

The US cover of The Piper’s Son makes me a little sad, not because it is an awful cover (it isn’t) but because the US publishers missed an opportunity to capture the image of loneliness (and perhaps despair) that is depicted so well on the Australian cover. I feel like this quote from the book, though it takes place in the evening, conveys the feeling present on the Aussie cover well: “Out here tonight, under the dullest of moons, Tom feels as if he’s the last man on earth. Six blocks east form the home he grew up in. Three blocks south from the university he dropped out of a year ago. Four blocks north of the bed he shared with Tara Finke that last night together when life made sense for one proverbial minute, before everything blew up.” (Loc. 109)

I don’t even find it necessary to tell you which cover is which.

Since I have neither the US cover nor the Aussie cover, this is how I reread about Tom and company:

I’m always worried that, upon rereading, a book won’t live up to the huge expectations my memory has built up for it over time. It sounds so cliché to say so, but I think my heart fell into its groove almost right away, maybe even on page one. They were all there—all the characters I love to love, from Georgie to Dom to Anabel. I know the fan favorite will always be Jellicoe. But if you’re looking for me, I’ll just be over there, chillin’ with the Mackees and Tom’s friends. They’re a messed up bunch for sure, but the foundations of their family and friendship are solid and I’m not going to find a more caring bunch of characters anywhere.

Thank you, Chachic, for giving me a reason to reread and reaffirm my love for The Piper’s Son. And because I said I would, here’s another picture, drawn just for the occasion. I’m not sure how familiar people in other countries are with the March Madness brackets for the US college basketball tournaments. I won’t go into it because I completely disregard how they work in my fake brackets for who would win a battle of contemporary YA authors:

Marchetta Madness

Marchetta Madness

As you can see, Melina Marchetta isn’t even participating in the early rounds, she just comes in to accept her prize at the end. It’s just as well. I love every author in those brackets but too many of my favorite books are written by one person.

Seize The Day,
The Readventurer


Thank you, Flann, for coming up with a guest post for my other favorite Marchetta! Love those illustrations and I totally agree with your brackets – Melina Marchetta will always come out as the winner.

Check out these Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Alex talks about Marchetta’s secondary characters over at A Girl, Books and Other Things

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?