About Melina Marchetta:
Melina Marchetta is a bestselling author in more than twenty countries and eighteen languages. She has published award-winning young adult, fantasy and crime fiction, including her acclaimed crime novel, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil. Her much-loved Australian classic, Looking for Alibrandi, swept the pool of literary awards when it was published, and was also released as a film, adapted by Marchetta, winning an AFI Award and an Independent Film Award for best screenplay, as well as the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award. The companion novel to Marchetta’s award-winning book Saving Francesca, The Piper’s Son, also received much acclaim in Australia and internationally, and in 2009 Marchetta won the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association for Jellicoe Road. She lives in Sydney.
Your latest book, The Place on Dalhousie, is about families, relationships and the true nature of belonging. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
It’s about Martha and Rosie who live in a house they both believe they have a right to, both of them refusing to move out. Martha lives downstairs and Rosie lives upstairs. It’s about the community they build inside and around the house, and Jimmy Hailler who enters the house and becomes their middle ground.
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
I live five minutes away from Dalhousie Street, so that was an inspiration in itself. I’m always interested in community so I work around that. We live in a world now where housing is expensive so it makes all the sense in the world that a young character like Rosie could never afford to live anywhere but her dead father’s house, regardless of what she feels about his second wife. I’m also interested in the idea of the urban family, and those communities that we gather over time.
You wrote the screenplay for Looking for Alibrandi. Do you feel that changed the way you use dialogue to move a story forward?
Yes, it reminded me of the three reasons for dialogue. Not only to move the story forward, but to reveal something about character and the relationship between those characters.
Looking for Alibrandi was published 27 years ago. If you could, what advice would you give yourself as a young writer back then?
I would remind myself that although not all hard work is rewarded, there’s no reward without hard work. So keep at it, regardless of where you think it’s going to end up.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m mostly a morning and evening writer. There’s no inspiration for me in the afternoon. I never count how many words I write, but I make sure that I write every day. Sometimes I work at home, other times in my local library, especially when I think I’m the only person left in the world.
I’m about to start working on a little series of chapter books about a 7-year-old girl named Zola who lives with her mum and her Nonno and Nonna and their dog.