On Monday 29 August, 'My First Lesson' was launched at the Melbourne Writers Festival to a completely full theatre at Deakin Edge in Federation Square! I would like to thank everyone who submitted to this competition. It was very tough choosing the stories to go in this anthology.
Because we only had an hour for the launch, we could only choose four readers - even though I would have wanted everyone up there reading because all the stories were so unique and the voices so different. Francis, Olivia, Sarah and Noa did a stellar job, especially at the end when they had to answer questions off the cuff, in front of 450 people, with no preparation!
Afterwards, I met many of the young writers, and all of the contributors who flew in from interstate and their families.They were all as delightful, interesting and lovely as I thought they would be. To the contributors I haven't met and thanked in person - I hope we will one day meet, so I can tell you how much I liked your writing. We discovered that Readings Monthly (a magazine in the Age Newspaper) had a review of the anthology, written by Leanne Hall, who is an established, wonderful Australian YA writer herself. You can read Leanne's excellent review here: http://www.readings.com.au/products/21933971/my-first-lesson-stories-inspired-by-laurinda
I am so proud of this anthology, and grateful to my publishers at Black Inc, and thankful that the proceeds will go to Room to Read to fund literacy for girls around the world. Most of all, I am so proud of the young authors who came from every kind of background, school, age, year level and gender, who decided to share their stories with me, and the world. The future of YA is a bright one, filled with diversity of genre and voice, a strong sense of social justice and philosophy, and a deep sense of emotional honesty. What an inspiring launch!