Sunday, May 16, 2010

Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta is another author. I've read two of her young adult novels; Looking For Alibrandi and Saving Francesca. I think Alibrandi is the more well known one. I liked it, but I liked the Francesca one better. I get them both confused though.

I wonder if Marchetta has written any other novels. Well, I guess I shall find out today.

Wait. Lord Wiki just showed me Marchetta's bibliography. I may have read three of her books. I think I read Jellicoe Road. I remember I got the name wrong though, and thought it was Jelly Road.

No. Never mind. Wrong book. I went to find my old post. I was thinking of Leaving Jetty Road. I mistook that title for Leaving Jelly Road.

Lord Wiki says baby Melina was born in Sydney, on 25 March 1965. Like me, she's the middle child in a family of three daughters. We're like the Charmed Ones. Although the Charmed Ones really had four sisters.

Marchetta is Italian-Australian. That makes sense. The protagonist in Looking for Alibrandi is Italian. Francesca may be Italian as well. I can't remember.

When Marchetta was fifteen she dropped out of school. Lord Wiki says this is because she lacked confidence in her academic abilities. So she stopped going to regular school. Instead she went to a business-type school where she learned office skills. Then she got a job with the Commonwealth Bank. That sounds like a good plan to me.

I like stories like this. There ARE alternatives to the traditional school route. It's NOT the end of the world if someone drops out of high school.

Working gave Marchetta the confidence she had lacked before. She then returned to school. She got herself a teaching degree, and worked at St. Mary's Cathedral College.

See? Dropping out of school for awhile does not guarantee that you're going to be spending your life flipping burgers at McDonalds.

Marchetta worked at St. Mary's until 2006. Then she started writing full-time. She taught for many years after publishing two novels. I wonder if her students were excited about having an author as their teacher. I think students often assume their teachers know nothing about being a teenager. But it would probably be hard for the students to say that about Marchetta. Her books seem pretty insightful to me.

Lord Wiki says that Looking For Alibrandi is known as the most stolen library book....probably just in Australia. Although it has been published world-wide. So not only would St. Mary's students get an author as their teacher, but a very popular author.

Wait. I'm all confused. I thought Lord Wiki said that Marchetta had worked at St. Mary's until 2006. I guess he meant she was teaching until 2006. He says she also taught ten years at a high school for boys.

Oh well. I'm going to go to the official Marchetta site. Maybe that will clear things up for me.

The home page of the site has Marchetta's biography. I can see Lord Wiki pretty much plagiarized it. Bad bad Lord Wiki!

I just went to check on Honey, our temporary cat. He pooped! I'm so relieved. The poor guy has major poop issues. He has to take laxatives, and everything. Anyway, he hadn't pooped since Sunday morning, so I was a bit worried. But today, we had a success.

This page of Marchetta's site has all her novels. There's five. The newest one was recently released in Australia. That's The Piper's Son.

This is cool. They have photos of various international versions of Looking for Alibrandi. I have to admit. I like the American one best. That's the copy I own. Actually, I own more than one copy, because my dad was my Secret Santa one year, and some kind of mistake happened when he ordered the books for me.

Here's the main page on the Alibrandi book. It describes what it's about. Basically, it's a secondary school student who has issues with her old-fashioned Italian grandmother. At the same time, her missing father waltzes back in her life. Then there's boy issues as well. I think this is the book that has the school debate teams. It's kind of coming back to me......

Here's Saving Francesca in different countries. I have the American one right in front of me on my desk. I like the German one best though. I like pink.

On the main page for Saving Francesca, you can see the Australian version. I like that one too. The description of the book triggered my memory a bit. All I really remembered before was that the protagonist's mother had acute severe depression. The book's about the family dealing with that. But now I remember it's also about Francesca changing schools. Her parents send her to an all boy's school that has just opened it's doors to girls. Yeah. If I remember correctly, she's one of only a few girls there.

Here's a page for On the Jellicoe Road. The plot description they provide confuses me. All I really understand is that it's about boarding school. There's some review snippets on that site that gives me insight. I think it involves two generations, and is a mystery type thing.

I'm going to have to ask Lord Wiki for more information. I'll go back to him in a few minutes.

Finnikin of the Rock is a fantasy fairy tale type thing. It involves slaughtered kings and queens, and a curse.

The Piper's Son is about a guy going through a rough time. His favorite uncle was killed in a bombing.

What I like about Marchetta's site is that she links to some bloggers for reviews of her book. I like when us bloggers get attention and respect.

Anyway, Malcolm from Story Time Books For Kids gives high praise for Finnikin of the Rock. He makes me want to read the book. Although he compares it to The Hobbit, and I really didn't like that book. Malcolm says, For me it was one of those wonderful reading experiences where half way through I paused and thought “half of me wants to read fast to know how the story evolves, to find out what happens, and half of me wants to stop and save the rest, to savour it as slowly as possible hoping I will never get to the end.

I love books like that. And it makes me wonder....why do I even bother reading books that are NOT like that? My problem is once I start to read a book, I usually feel I must finish. Right now I'm bored rereading a Paul Kelly (no, not the singer) book about Hawke and Hayden. Why do I continue? I don't know. Maybe I feel it will make me smarter. There's bits and pieces that interest me. But I'd say those bits make up about 1% of the book.

Now I'm on the blog Food For Silverfish. I'm bookmarking this one. Food For Silverfish seems to be my kind of girl. She works in a bookshop and wants to be a librarian. I think that would be an awesome career. Books, books, and more books.

I LOVE Silverfish's first paragraph of her review of The Piper's Son. She says, So i just finished the new Melina Marchetta, 'The Piper's Son', and before i even started it i got that excited happy feeling of anticipation you only get when you know that there is an excellent read hiding quietly in your bag. The feeling that goes away when the book is finished, leaving only the afterglow, and the knowledge that those books don't come round everyday and it may be a while till that delicious anticipation comes back. I wish i had read it more slowly, savoured it more, but it was just a bit too unputdownable.

I can totally relate to what she's saying there.

Silverfish girl says it's a companion novel to Saving Francesca. I guess it's a sequel, and features a guy named Thomas Mackee. I don't remember him. I'll have to flip through the book, and find out who he is.

Okay. I found it. Francesca is partnered with Mackee for a school project. I'm kind of remembering. Maybe they hated each other at first, but then warmed up a bit? Did a romance develop between them? I can't remember. And I better not say anyway, cause that would be a spoiler.

So I wanted to read this book before, but now that I know it's a sequel to Francesca, I definitely have to read it!

I'm looking through Silverfish's blog. She seems to be anti-Twilight and similar books. Well, we definitely don't have that in common. I totally love all that crap. But I do love Silverfish's very first blog entry.

Oh! And I'm slow here. I finally got the meaning of her blog title; Food for Silverfish. Silverfish are known for eating paper from books. They're cute little creatures, but I guess they could cause damage.

This Silverfish girl has a clever way of writing. I wonder if she's tried writing her own books yet.

I'm now reading Lord Wiki's description of On the Jellicoe Road. It's a a novel within a novel type thing. Taylor lives in a boarding school. She was abandoned by her mother when she was eleven. The novel within the novel is written by Taylor's guardian. It's about people disappearing in the 1980's.

The novel (and the novel within it) sounds intriguing.

I'm going through Google, trying to find more stuff. I think Marchetta looks a bit like Missy Higgins.

This website has a brief interview with Marchetta. This was done back when On the Jellicoe Road was her latest novel. And she mentions that she's still teaching.

Marchetta says she's a major morning person. She doesn't like to sleep more than six hours. I LOVE sleeping more than six hours. I hate when I sleep less than seven.

Marchetta likes Espresso. Her perfect Saturday would involve that, her friends, sister, nephews, dog, and South Sydney football.

She's into trashy gossip, and seems to like reality TV. We don't have that in common. I secretly don't always mind trashy gossip all that much, but I TRY to avoid it.

Her favorite TV show was The West Wing. By now, I'm guessing it's probably something different.

She has a crush on Sirius Black. I've had crushes on fictional characters.

Her heroes are people who have experienced tragedies, but refuse to let them consume their lives. I like that. I do think people have the right to mourn and grieve as long as they need too....maybe for the rest of their lives. But I think it's awesome when they manage to still live a fairly happy life. And it's much better then people who use their own personal tragedy as an excuse to kill others. To me, that's just pathetic.

Here's another interview, a more recent one. It's on a blog called Persnickety Snark. I'm snarky against snarks, but I'll try not to be right now. Most of the interview is about The Piper's son, and is therefore hard for me to follow. I think it will make more sense to me AFTER I read the book. The interview does provide news on Marchetta's future books. She's working on a sequel to Finnikin of the Rocks, and a book for younger children.

Here's a little video about Marchetta. It's kind of like a documentary.

Marchetta says she didn't go to year 11 and 12 in high school. She went to university when she was twenty-five. It sounds like she's somewhat haunted about not finishing high school...the idea that she failed to finish something. So, she's very excited about finishing a novel.

I DID finish high school, college, and graduate school. Yet I have recurring dreams about NOT finishing, and having to go back.

Marchetta says that people would come up to her and say they love Alibrandi, and how she juxtaposed the scenes. She didn't even know what juxtaposed meant. I guess that shows that one doesn't need to be a expert on literary terms in order to write a great book.

Do I know what juxtaposed means? I remember learning it way back when. And I see it a lot on the Lostpedia site. They say it's the arrangement of two opposing ideas, characters, objects, etc. side-by-side or in similar narratives for effect.

Marchetta says the most exciting thing of her day is going out to a cafe to get a coffee. She also likes getting the mail, and email. I LOVE email.

The video is nice. I like seeing scenes of Sydney.

Marchetta's dog is named Jasper. When she walks him, it gives her time to think about her novel and characters. Walking is a great time for thinking.

This is so cool. Marchetta says her own grandmother's house was used for Alibrandi. She says her family has always been very involved with her writing, especially in the beginning. I envy her for that. Although SOME of my family members do real my blog on a regular basis now. That's nice, and I appreciate that. I very much unappreciate the fact that some family members pretty much NEVER come and see it.

Marchetta talks about how she listens to certain songs while writing her novels. I think a lot of writers do that. One of my novels was actually totally inspired by a song; Lovers Concerto. I don't know why. For some reason, it made me think of my cousins, and how we had drifted apart. Then this turned into a novel about a woman who's long lost cousin has become a big celebrity.

Here's a book trailer for On Jellicoe Road. I think it might be fan made. It's lovely, but a bit too long in my opinion.

I like what Marchetta says in this brief interview. I try not to pin my hopes on awards, though. Firstly, it’s very subjective and you have to remind yourself that yours is not necessarily the best book of the bunch. It just may be the book people are talking about. When I look back on it, some of my best writing has not been rewarded, while another book that I may see as flawed, has been.

I think that's true. In the end, it all opinions. It's kind of like how Catherine Jinks likes her Pagan series the best, but I didn't. I like her other books much better.

The writer's favorite may not be the favorite of most critics and other readers.

As I've said a million times, I didn't have much luck getting my novels published. The one that got the closest was probably the novel I liked the least. It was about a girl who got into drawing pictures of great apes. Sadly, I don't think I have any copies of it available. Maybe it's better than I imagined. Or I should say maybe I'd like it more now. But I don't think I'll ever find out.

Out of all my novels, I probably like The Dream Games best. But it seems it's disliked by most other people.

I like what this blogger has to say about Marchetta. Jenny Luca, a secondary teacher, heard Marchetta speaking at a library event. She was fascinated by the fact that Marchetta had dropped out of school. It sounds like Marchetta wasn't a horrible student, just very mediocre. And she wasn't recognized as having any talent.

I think Marchetta's story could be so useful in inspiring kids and teenagers who feel unimportant. Some people find their talents early in life. For other people, it takes a long time.

Luca says she regrets that the creative writing and passions of students aren't nurtured more. I agree. It's definitely a shame. Some teachers treat students as vessels that need to be filled. They don't care about the student's home lives, their interests, their talents, their problems, etc. They just want to fill them with names, dates....facts, facts, and more facts.

Then other teachers really care about the students as individuals. They're not just passionate for the subject matter they teach. I'm betting that Luca is one of those teachers. Still. Even the best teachers have curriculum that they must cover, and it's not always the best curriculum for the students.

I was just thinking. There seems to be two goals in education:

A) decrease drop outs
B) increase performance...produce students with better grades and test scores.

Maybe these two goals are conflicting with each other. We're so concerned with certain types of intelligences, and neglect the other kinds.

Talking about multiple intelligences just gave me the urge to take a Howard Gardner type test. My main intelligence is linguistic. I got a 71% on that. My lowest was body-kinesthetic (2%) and spatial (4%). This is exactly what I would have guessed.

Anyway, I think I'm going to quit here. I might try to watch some of Looking for Alibrandi.

For more Australian biography posts, click here!