The book’s cover is the face. It’s the first thing people see and for many readers it’s the reason they pick up a novel in the first place.
I’m thrilled that Stone Girl’s ‘face’ will be revealed at the Penguin Teen Showcase in Sydney January 23rd.
I love the cover so much. The Penguin Books designer – Marina Messiha – has captured something unspoken about the protagonist Sophie Soukaris in just one image.
After Sydney, the showcase moves to Melbourne on the 24th. Here I’ll be talking about the book for the first time publically.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how to prepare. How to choose the words. It’s not easy as this is something I’m kept quiet about for most of my life.
Stone Girl is fictional but it feels so personal.
Prior to signing with Penguin I’d kept my past a secret because it was sort of awkward and embarrassing. People don’t know what to say. When I was a journalist I even had a colleague tell me I’d lose my job if the editor found out that I grew up like that. So I kept quiet and that was okay because I’d moved on in many ways. Thanks to my love of writing I went back to school, had gone to university and had a career.
But the world of the homes and all the kids I’d known haunted me. It stayed with me year after year. I just couldn’t forget it. And what struck me was that sense of knowing there were kids living that way, transformed daily by the extreme events they faced. I knew how hard it was to transcend that world.
Now and again I’d see kids who looked like they might live in the homes. They’re the ones wearing mismatched clothes with bad haircuts at the train station. Some loud, some aggressive, some over friendly, others quiet but with something about them I recognised. With the louds ones I’d see how others feared and hated them and I felt this overwhelming desire to explain. This is why… this is how you can become that way.
I can’t talk for everyone, of course. But I can share this one story.
I hope you will pick it up, turn that first page and walk in Sophie’s footsteps for a while. Books are the best way to see into other lives and I hope Stone Girl will show you something about these often forgotten, voiceless but tough Australian kids.
January will be a big month for the book. It’s a really special feeling to transition from the many, many years of writing alone to a stage of sharing with others. I hope people connect with it.