What’s the deal with diversity? It’s a hot topic in YA literature, but why is it important? Journalist and author Sarah Ayoub is joined by writers Randa Abdel-Fattah, Erin Gough and Will Kostakis to discuss why portrayals of Australian teenagers in books should be real rather than random. How can writers use more than just culture to create characters we can relate to? Find out what roles family, class, gender and sexuality can play in the books we read.

Supported by the City of Parramatta.

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Randa Abdel-Fattah (Australian)

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Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University where she is researching the generational impact of the war on terror on Muslim and non-Muslim youth born into a post 9/11 world. She is a prominent Australian Palestinian advocate and a multi-award winning author of 11 books whose young adult and children’s books are published in more than 16 countries. Randa was recently nominated for Sweden's Astrid Lindgren Award, the world's biggest children's literature award. Her novels have been adapted to the stage in America and Australia and her debut novel Does My Head Look Big In This? is currently in development as a feature film.

Will Kostakis (Australian)

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Will Kostakis is a writer of all things, from celebrity news stories that score cease and desist letters, to tweets for professional wrestlers. He's best known for his award-winning YA novels, The Sidekicks and The First Third. His first fantasy novel Monuments releases in Spring 2019.

Erin Gough (Australian)

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Erin Gough is the author of two award-winning novels for young adults, The Flywheel, which won the Ampersand Prize, and Amelia Westlake, which won the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Erin's work has been published in Germany and the United States. Her short stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Black Inc.'s Best Australian Stories, Griffith Review, Going Down Swinging and, most recently, Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories out in June, 2019.

Sarah Ayoub (Australian)

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Sarah Ayoub is a freelance journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Sun-Herald, ELLE, SBS, Marie-Claire, and the Sunday Telegraph. Sarah teaches journalism at The University of Notre Dame in Sydney, where she is currently researching the representations of culturally diverse female teens in Australian Young Adult literature. She is the author of Hate is Such a Strong Word and The Yearbook Committee and is passionate about empowering young people to see the value in their own personal stories.