The Book that Made Me was inspired by my fascination with the reading lives of writers. As a teacher, editor and a devoted fiction reader, I have read a lot of ‘how to’ writing manuals and writers’ memoirs, and I am always intrigued by the way books—especially the books read during childhood and adolescence—contribute to the way we think, feel and view the world around us. And while I’d read a lot about the influences on adult writers, I really wanted to know more about the reading lives of my favourite writers for young people.
The Book That Made Me is the product of that curiosity.
The book has been a long time coming. I initially pitched it to then-Walker Book publisher Sarah Foster around four or five years ago. A book like this will always take time; you’re commissioning several dozen individual pieces of writing, across several countries and involving visual artists as well as writers. People agree to be part of the project, and then other commitments take priority and they have to drop out. Changes happen within publishing houses, and within one’s own life, that affect the editorial and publishing process.
But we got there, and the actual publication date is not incidental: September 1 is Indigenous Literacy Day, and the royalties from The Book That Made Me are going to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to support the work they do with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers. And excitingly, Candlewick Press, Walker’s US parent company, will be publishing the book in the northern spring (2017).
Commissioning and editing a collection of personal essays is both a pleasure and a great responsibility. I am honoured that my friends and colleagues who have contributed to this book have entrusted me with their stories, and I am proud of the book that we have made together. I am excited to be able to share it with the young readers we created it for, with the intention that their reading eyes would be opened up to a whole new world of books and writers and ideas.
Review copy requests and media enquiries for The Book That Made Me: Stephanie.Whitelock@walkerbooks.com.au
A little bit more about me:
I am internationally recognised as a specialist in children’s and young adult literature. Originally an English teacher, I fell in love (again!) with children’s literature when undertaking post-graduate studies at Macquarie University. I have a Masters in Children’s Literature (on feminist retellings of fairy tales for teenagers) and I am currently writing my PhD on representations of Australia in children’s and YA fantasy fiction (with a special interest in Aboriginal story and representation).
I have worked as an editor (at the NSW School Magazine, ABC Books and as a freelancer), a teacher of writing children’s and young adult fiction (two years in the MA program at the University of Sydney and more than ten years at the Australian Writers’ Centre) and in arts program development. I was creative director of WestWords (the Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Project) for seven years; I’ve programmed two schools’ programs for Sydney Writers’ Festival, and am currently the Coordinator of Outreach Programs for Liverpool City Library in south western Sydney. I was a member of the Board of the Australian Society of Authors from 2012 until 2016.
I’m widely known as a critic, commentator and advocate of children’s literature and reading. I’m a regular speaker at festivals, conferences and in the media, including internationally. In 2001 I received a Churchill Fellowship to study literature programs for children and teens in the US, Ireland and UK. In 2009, my paper at the conference dedicated to the work of British children’s fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones was voted favourite paper by the Guardian Books Blog.
The Book That Made Me on goodreads.
My 2010 Sydney Writers’ Festival session with Melina Marchetta and David Levithan.
Teachers’ Notes for The Book That Made Me.