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. 😛
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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.

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! 😛 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 by Nomes of Inkcrush

I love how Aussie book blogger Nomes of Inkcrush is so passionate about novels from down under. She’s my go-to girl when it comes to Aussie YA recommendations and I’ve read so many wonderful books because of Nomes. I wanted her to take part in Marchetta Madness to give us an idea of what’s it like to be way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to being a Marchetta fan. Please welcome Nomes, as she talks about the novel that started it all, Looking for Alibrandi.


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There is so much I could write about regarding Melina Marchetta, her novels, the characters and I. Yet what I most want share with you about is the very first Marchetta book that stole my (young) heart.

Looking for Alibrandi
I read Looking for Alibrandi when I was 13 years old. I snatched it off the display shelf at my local library, never having heard of Melina Marchetta, always on the look out for something new to read. I can still conjure up my first impressions of the book:

Laughing out loud in the first chapter.
Wishing I was as gutsy as Josie. Fiery and bold and impetuous.
Imagining my future self on the back of some (cute) boys motorbike (those teen years lingering ahead of me, full of promise)
Kissing, and some sexytimes. I was riveted. Thank you, Ms Marchetta.
John Barton. My God. Tears.
The debate team. Some bonding over that, as I was a debater.
She broke that girls nose! Oh, and her dad to the rescue (I liked him so, from that very point).
The letter exchange. My friends and I were always doing that kind of stuff.
The Catholic girls school seemed so much cooler than my regular coed state high school.
Not only did I have crush on two boys, but I also crushed on her father.
Her grandmother, Katia ~ my gosh, tragic and sinful and beautiful mysterious past…

Check out this kissing quote: ‘Fifteen minutes later I was an expert. That’s all you need. I think I was even getting the upper hand which is very simple with a guy. Anything seems to turn them on.’ p154. This quote brought some comfort (LOL) and a few grins.

Fast forward a year and half from my first read
My teacher, handing out our text to study in class: Looking For Alibrandi.
I blurt out: Oh! I’ve already read this. (Had read it twice, in fact. Living in a country town you tend to re-borrow whatever the library stocks).
Guy at back (name redacted for privacy, but I remember you…;)): Don’t you have a life?
My teacher: (did not defend me)

I would like to say that reading it along with my class I came to appreciate all the hidden layers, depth, the themes of cultural heritage, social classes/barriers, relationships, family and self-identity. But I discovered pulling a part one of your favourite books can be a tedious task, mostly involving me fluffing my way through essays, throwing big words around and often debating points just for the sake of argument (to extend the period and get out of written work). I know I did not share how much I loved the book, preferring to keep it personal, than offer up my deepest feelings up for debate and discussion.

It wasn’t even until the last few years, on a reread that I was able to fully appreciate what a masterpiece Alibrandi is. I won’t get all classroom essay on you now, but I want to say two things:

1. First chapter love. One of my all-time fave first chapters. Josie’s voice is funny, irreverent, cool and likeable. You will grin and have that gosh-I-am-going-to-love-this-book feeling from the first few pages.

2. Josephine Alibrandi will go down in the history of Aussie YA books as one of the most likeable, feisty, authentic and memorable female protagonists. For me, she is right up there next to Ellie Linton (Tomorrow, When the War Began) as one of my most nostalgic and beloved YA personalities.

Looking for Alibrandi: The Movie

First of all: there is a movie. Have you seen it yet?

The Looking for Alibrandi movie was one of those things I heard murmurs about without ever knowing if it was really happening (living in those pre-internet days where nothing is easily confirmed and rumours multiplied then faded altogether). I was at university at the time when my flatmate and I first saw a trailer for the film. We clung to each other and squealed, then grew nervous. What if they don’t get it right? Then we heard Melina Marchetta had something to do with the script (that something being she wrote it) plus Pia Miranda was gorgeous and Anthony LaPaglia a fave. We let our anticipation swell.

I watched Alibrandi on it’s opening weekend at the cinema, accompanied by chicken twisties, coke and my flatmate (left my boyfriend – now my husband – at home. We discriminated against him coming as he hadn’t read the book. Oh, we were cruel. Superior, but also feeling precious about watching it). It was gorgeous on the big screen. Seeing it all come to life in such an Australian way ~ the scenes at the Opera house, Sydney Uni (my rival uni at the time), Bondi Beach and George Street.

My flatmate loved it. I loved it. Boyfriend even got into the spirit of it when we hired it out on video later on… (and as my now husband, has sat through it more than once ;))

It was exhilarating and fun and touching and Australian and had a killer soundtrack.

I love that a favourite book can be transformed into another medium. Same story, but different. It brought to life the characters, differently to how it played out in my head, but it still evoked all those same feelings in me that I first had when I read the book as a teen.

Side note before moving on: I so completely recommend this Australian film to anyone who loves Melina Marchetta, Aussie films or Aussie YA. CHECK OUT THIS ROCKING TRAILER. (Did I mention MM wrote the script?)

Most of all
I am proud of Alibrandi and the role it played in my life. While Melina Marchetta has recently risen in fame internationally, she truly made her mark in Australia in the 90’s. When Young Adult fiction was the smallest section in the library, dominated by Sweet Valley High (okay, so I read them, who didn’t?), imported YA and a sprinkling of (uninspiring) classics, Looking For Alibrandi brought an authentic Australian voice that resonated deep within me. For a young Aussie teen, there is nothing like that feeling of sinking into an Australian story, full of Aussies, local references and a kick-arse nose-breaking heroine.

I think a lot of people struggle to choose their favourite Melina Marchetta (Perhaps even Melina herself struggles?). Alibrandi has it’s own special place in my heart. It is my most nostalgia-inducing Marchetta book. It is perhaps Marchetta’s most well known title in Australia (?) yet possibly her least talked about title internationally (?). I would LOVE to hear if you guys have read it, what did you think? Do you have plans to read it?

Thanks so much for having me here, Chachic, and I hope me sharing my Alibrandi memories has inspired some of your readers to check out Melina Marchetta’s (outstanding) debut.

Did you know? Looking for Alibrandi is the most stolen book from Australian libraries. I personally am on my third (unstolen ;)) copy. (My first one fell apart. My second never returned to me 😦 )

my current copy of Looking for Alibrandi, surrounded by some other Aussie faves. (I wanted to take a pic of all my MM books, but a couple are out with friends atm)

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Thanks, Nomes! I’ve always wondered what it’s like to read Looking for Alibrandi for class, you just gave all of us a clearer picture. I really want to watch that movie. Also, you’ve made me jealous of your Aussie editions! I want them all.

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? 🙂

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?