In writing The Incredible Here and Now I really wanted to create something different in Australian Young Adult Fiction. A lot of contemporary Young Adult fiction is about fantasy and magic in made up worlds. I wanted to write about the magic and fantasy that exists in the ordinary, everyday places in the very real communities that young people live in. The text is primarily set in Parramatta and also Auburn, Granville, Harris Park and Merrylands. I was interested in writing about the small intimate spaces of these communities that you walk past every day but you don’t think about very much: the McDonalds Parking lot at night, the corner store, the Coke Factory. These are the spaces where young people’s lives happen. It is also where the ‘West’ becomes larger than one location, it becomes a place where stories are told about ordinary places that gain a legendary status through this story telling.
My experience of young people is that they are great storytellers whether they know it or not and you can’t live in this community without seeing that. I wrote The Incredible Here and Now in a series of vignettes that can be read individually or in chronological order to tell a cohesive narrative. In writing the book, I have come to see the vignette form as a vehicle for forming a picture of a whole community because it mimics the way we understand places in a series of voices and images that, when combined, form a whole picture. Having workshopped The Incredible Here and Now with several groups of young people I have found they like this form because it is easy for them to grasp a text that is complex and literary when it is presented in tight, short, images. It’s this focus on storytelling and place that I hope marks the texts’ difference.
I really admire Young Adult writers’ like Sonya Hartnett, Marcus Zusak and Sandra Cisneros because they take risks with the accepted form and structure of Young Adult novels and they don’t patronise their audiences by giving them what they think they want— Instead, they make the audience want what they’ve got to give them. They write risky texts that cross boundaries between Young Adult and Adult fiction, literary and popular fiction and I hope I’ve done this too with The Incredible Here and Now.