By Tyler Wright
Olinda resident Karys McEwen has debuted her first fiction novel about the complications of living in a regional town throughout your formative years as a teenager.
‘All the Little Tricky Things’ follows twelve-year old protagonist Bertie, who attempts to navigate moving to high school in the city while her friends stay behind in small-town Merri where she has lived her whole life.
Her best friend, Claire, lists all the things Bertie has to do over the summer before her departure, only for cracks in the friendship to show as they begin working through the tasks.
“It’s a coming of age story and a very quiet story, but I hope that it will feel really relatable to a lot of young people that are going through similar experiences,” Karys said.
The inspiration for the book came about after a conversation with two Year Seven students in her role as school Librarian at a Prahran highschool.
“They were talking about the different things they were worried about before starting high school and how now that they’ve started high school they were kind of embarrassed…they were like ‘it’s so silly that we were worried about that…’
But at the time, those feelings are so overwhelming it’s so hard to see beyond them.”
“So I thought I’d really like to write that story…about a young person who is worried about the future,” Karys said.
Like the main character, Karys also grew up in a country town, the difference being her hometown is real and lies in Western Australia. She said parallels can be drawn between the setting in her novel and the landscape of towns like Monbulk and Belgrave.
“I enjoyed the process. It never really felt like hard work. And at that point, I was just writing it for myself because I was just going to see how it went…
“I really put into the setting a lot of my experiences living up in the hills.”
After sending the manuscript off to her favourite Melbourne publisher for it to be accepted straight away, the two-year editing process began for Karys, who is also President of the Victorian branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
“It’s been interesting to be able to see the children’s literature industry from both sides,” she said.
Readings Carlton held the book launch on Tuesday 3 May, with past students and colleagues attending to support Karys’ work.
“I’m so excited. But of course, it’s scary putting your work out into the world, and especially young people, because they’re so discerning – they know what they like and what they don’t like,” she said.
“[The students are] all my biggest supporters, so that’s really reassuring.”
You can find more information on ‘All the Little Tricky Things’ here https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/all-the-little-tricky-things