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 an award-winning author of 11 books and is published around the world. She was a lawyer for ten years and has a Phd in Sociology on the topic of Islamophobia in Australia. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University. Her latest novel, When Michael Met Mina, won the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary award for Young Adults and the People's Choice award. Her novel, Does My Head Look Big in This? is being adapted as a feature film. Randa's novel Where the Streets Had A Name will be on the stage with MonkeyBaa theatre company in September 2017. Randa is keen to use her intervention into popular culture and academia to reshape dominant narratives around racism, identity and multiculturalism.

Will Kostakis (Australia)

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Will Kostakis is an award-winning author from Sydney. After dabbling in reality TV and celebrity journalism, he now writes full time. That said, his real claims to fame are a Twitter spat with Guy Sebastian and that time a member of Destiny's Child said his name. The Sidekicks is his latest novel for young adults.

Erin Gough (Australian)

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Erin Gough is a fiction writer whose short stories have been published in a number of journals and anthologies including Best Australian Stories, Overland and Going Down Swinging. Her novel for young adults, The Flywheel, won the Ampersand Prize and was published by Hardie Grant Egmont in 2015. In 2016 it was short-listed for the Gold Inky Awards and CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers) and selected as an International Youth Library White Raven title.

Sarah Ayoub (Australian)

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Sarah Ayoub is a freelance journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian Australia 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 females in Australian YA literature. She is the author of Hate is Such a Strong Word and The Yearbook Committee.