What's it like to be a young adult today? Is the increased interest in uncensored, contemporary teen stories on TV (think Sex Education, Euphoria or Heartbreak High) narrowing or widening our perception of teenagers, and how can YA books fill in any gaps? Tegan Bennett Daylight (Royals), Will Kostakis (We Could Be Something), Shirley Le (Funny Ethnics), and Gary Lonesborough (The Boy from the Mish) contemplate what the universal challenges teenagers face are and what is unique to our current world with its societal, cultural and environmental shifts. Hosted by Felicity Castagna.

Will Kostakis (Australian)

Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis is an award-winning author for young adults. He’s been at it fifteen years, but his mum insists it’s just a phase. We Could Be Something is his sixth novel. It’s a humorous yet heart-rending look at family, fame and falling in love.

Shirley Le (Australian)

Shirley Le

Shirley Le is a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Yagoona and Creative Producer at Sweatshop Literacy Movement. Her writing has been published in Overland, The Guardian, SBS Voices, Meanjin and several Sweatshop anthologies. She also co-wrote the play Sex, Drugs and Pork Rolls, presented by UTP in partnership with Sweatshop. Funny Ethnics (Affirm Press, 2023) is her first novel.

Gary Lonesborough (Australian)

Gary Lonesborough

Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin writer, who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Growing up a massive Kylie Minogue and North Queensland Cowboys fan, Gary was always writing as a child, and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in Aboriginal health, the disability sector (including experience working in the youth justice system) and the film industry, including working on the feature film adaptation of Jasper Jones. His debut YA novel, The Boy From the Mish, was published by Allen & Unwin in February 2021.

Tegan Bennett Daylight (Australian)

Tegan Bennett Daylight

Tegan Bennett Daylight is a writer, teacher and critic. She is the author of three novels: Bombora, What Falls Away and Safety, as well as several books for children and teenagers. Her collection of short stories, Six Bedrooms, was published in July 2015, and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal, the Steele Rudd Award and the 2016 Stella Prize. Her book of essays, The Details, was published by Scribner in July 2020 and was short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Award for Non-Fiction. She works as a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Western Sydney University, and lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney with her husband and two children. Tegan’s new YA novel Royals tells the story of six teenagers trapped in a parallel universe – only this parallel universe is a shopping mall. Royals will be published by Scribner in May 2023.

Felicity Castagna (Australian)

Felicity Castagna

Felicity Castagna has published four novels for adults and young adults including her most recent book, Girls In Boys’ Cars, which received The Queensland and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for YA and is now being adapted for stage and screen. Her previous novel, No More Boats was a finalist in the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Awards and is published internationally by Europa. She has worked with artists in many different fields to produce cross-artform collaborations for Sydney Festival, The National Theatre of Parramatta, The Four Winds Festival, Sydney Opera House and many other places as well as with The Finishing School Collective.