BTCYA Fan Events are happening this November – hurray!

Brisbane e-vite_crop


The HarperCollins YA team are hitting the road in November for our BTCYA fan events and we would love to hang out with you all!

We’re visiting Brisbane and Melbourne before returning to our hometown, Sydney – with a different special guest author joining us in each city. Each night will be a fun get-together where we all take some time to enjoy how awesome it is to be a reader of YA. And of course, we’ll give you the latest news on the exciting books you should be adding to your TBR in 2016.

Event details are below and scroll down further for our FAQ section.

Hope to see you there, legends!


BRISBANE BTCYA – Thursday November 5th

Featuring special guest author Gabrielle Tozer (The InternFaking It)

Venue: Meeting Room 1B, State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, South Brisbane

Doors open: 6.15pm

Event start time: 6.30pm

Please RSVP with your attendance and the subject line ‘Brisbane BTCYA’ to by Wednesday October 28th 


MELBOURNE BTCYA – Wednesday November 11th

Featuring special guest author Alison Goodman (EonEona and the upcoming Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club)

Venue: Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

Doors open: 6.15pm

Event start time: 6.30pm

Please RSVP with your attendance and the subject line ‘Melbourne BTCYA’ to by Monday November 2nd 


SYDNEY BTCYA – Friday November 20th

Featuring a special guest author ( top secret for now – no, it’s not Terry the dinosaur)

Venue: HarperCollins Publishers, Level 13, 201 Elizabeth St, Sydney

Doors open: 6.15pm

Event start time: 6.30pm

Please RSVP with your attendance and the subject line ‘Sydney BTCYA’ to by Friday November 13th 

BTCYA chalk


I’m 13/30/300, am I able to attend?

Of course! Our events will suit YA fans 13+

Can I bring a friend?

Are you saying we’re not enough for you? Jokes. Friends are most welcome, just make sure you let us know in your RSVP email.

Will books be available to purchase on the night? 

Yes indeedy

What time will the event finish?

Around 8pm

Please will you come to Perth/Antarctica/Narnia?

We hope to make it to Narnia one day, but it’s not possible this time around.

Why is there a cut-off date to RSVP? 

So we can make sure we have the right number of goodies for people! That’s right, you’ll be leaving with treats.

I’ve RSVPed but haven’t heard anything back. I’m freaking out! Will you be sending a confirmation email? 

Don’t panic, we will be sending out confirmation emails a few days prior to each event.

Information for YA reviewers

Are you a book blogger interested in reviewing YA titles for HarperCollins Australia for review? Then this page is for you!

To find out which books are available for review, please check out our publicity catalogues – which can be viewed here. The titles in these catalogues are the books with an allocation of review copies. Additionally, follow us at @HarperCollinsYA on Twitter and Instagram as we often post about other ARCs (advanced reader copies) that become available.

We do not have a generic YA mailing list as we work with bloggers on a request-by-request basis. If there is a book you’d like to request please email us at and include the title of the book, your name, mailing address and links to your blog and social media accounts.

All requests are kept on file – but due to time constraints and the high volume of email we receive – we can’t always reply. Once you’ve received your book and posted your review, we would love if you could send us a link for our records and/or tag us in the post on social media.

Other things to note:

  • We are big fans of honest reviews. If you loved a book – fantastic! If not, that’s ok too. Our only suggestion is – as a courtesy- not to tag authors in posts if you didn’t enjoy the book. As Effie Trinket would say: “Manners!”
  • We are the Australian office of HarperCollins, so can only send review copies to Australian residents
  • Due to rights restrictions, not all books published by HarperCollins in the US are also published by us here in Australia. Please check to see if a title is listed before getting in touch.
  • Our review copies are generally sent out before a book is published. Once a book has been released, interested readers will be directed to purchase copies instead of receiving them for review.
  • If you include buy links in your reviews, please consider supporting local retailers like Booktopia, Bookworld, Boomerang Books and Dymocks.
  • Review copies are for influential readers that have a blog and/or YouTube channel as well as social media accounts – including Twitter, instagram and Facebook. Unfortunately we can’t send books to people with no blog presence
  • We work with bloggers with an established following – it doesn’t have to be huge – but when we check out your site and social media accounts, we do look to make sure you’re engaged in Australia’s passionate YA community. If your blog is still in its early stages, we may suggest getting in touch a few months down the track
  • We also prefer to work with bloggers whose sites are neat and updated regularly. If you haven’t updated in a few weeks, months or even years (hey, it’s happened!), it’s less likely you’ll receive a review copy.

Hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to chat to us on Twitter.


Frances Watts on the joys of turning (19th century) Japanese

peony lantern blog image

I swear I didn’t decide to write The Peony Lantern, set in nineteenth-century Edo (as Tokyo used to be called), just so I could go to Japan,* but my research trip really brought the history, culture and landscape alive for me.

The main protagonist is Kasumi, an innkeeper’s daughter from the mountains who travels to Edo to work as a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion…

*Okay, maybe I did.



Along with her mistress Misaki, Kasumi learns the refined art of ikebana (flower arranging). I took a class at a famous Tokyo ikebana school; the flowers were lovely…my arrangements not so much. (Coincidentally, Kasumi isn’t any good at ikebana either.)

Frances Watts Ikebana



I struck out at ikebana, but eating raw fish is something I am extremely good at—and sushi was invented in Edo. An early-morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo was compulsory.

Frances Watts sushi

It’s a good look for me, don’t you think?

I don’t care what anyone says: raw tuna, sea urchin and salmon roe is the breakfast of champions.

FW Sushi



Kimonos are GORGEOUS. I was interested to learn that they have different patterns according to the season. In summer, for example, you would wear a cooling design (such as Misaki’s unlined blue silk kimono decorated with streams and grasses).

FW kimonos



Japan is famous for its festivals, and there are several mentioned in The Peony Lantern. I travelled about 300 km from Tokyo to the famous spring festival in Takayama. At night, all the lanterns on the floats are lit and there’s a big parade around the streets of the town.


FW Lanterns


Kasumi went to one of the summer firework festivals that Edo was famous for—pictured here in an ukiyo-e, or woodblock print, by the artist Hiroshige. I absolutely love ukiyo-e and they are an important part of the plot of The Peony Lantern. I went to specialised museums and exhibitions to learn about how they were made and their role in Edo culture.

FW wood block

Ghost stories

Through studying ukiyo-e I discovered a rich history of ghost stories. In the book, Kasumi and Misaki play a game that involves telling ghost stories. In fact ‘The Peony Lantern’ is also the name of a famous Japanese ghost story.

Ghost story

Cruising down the highway…

The Nakasendo was an ancient highway linking Edo, home to the shogun, with the emperor’s capital, Kyoto. Tsumago, where Kasumi was born, was a ‘station’ or stopping point along the highway. My sister and I spent a few days hiking along the Nakasendo, stopping overnight in inns just as travellers did for centuries.

FW train stationFW forest



This is the gate leading to the Shinto shrine in Tsumago. It’s at the top of these steps that Kasumi first sees Isamu. He’s a high-ranking samurai and she’s just an innkeeper’s daughter, so of course she shouldn’t go falling in love with him, but…Well you’ll have to read the book to see what happens!

FW Shrines


The Peony Lantern is available now



Boomerang Books

Peony Lantern high res

Interview with Stephanie Oakes on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly


minnow blog image


Congratulations on writing such an incredible book. Do you remember what first inspired you to write Minnow’s story?

The book was inspired by a lot of seemingly unconnected events and encounters that occurred over the course of about a year. One was that I spent a lot of time in Montana while my mom was studying for her PhD (the book is set in the wilds of Montana and in the town Missoula, a place I absolutely love). Another thing was discovering YA literature. I was in a poetry program in college, and during that time, a couple of great YA novels happened to fall into my lap. I started devouring YA novels (sometimes instead of my required poetry reading…oops). Something in YA managed to satisfy my reader-spirit in a way that nothing else I was reading at the time could. One of the most important novels I read during that time was The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, which is a fairy tale retelling. I became interested in the idea of writing a fairy tale retelling. The final piece of the puzzle was discovering The Handless Maiden, which is the fairy tale that I built Minnow’s story around.

Would you say Minnow is a retelling of The Handless Maiden?

Yes, it definitely is, though it only retells about the first half of the fairy tale. I had read The Handless Maiden during my poetry program and I loved how dark and unusual it was. Readers don’t need to be familiar with the fairy tale to read the book, but there are some fun “Easter eggs” (references to the original fairy tale that are woven into the book) for readers who are.

Did you do any research into cults when writing the book?

I had to do lots of research on so many strange topics while writing the book, and I probably spent the most time on cults and other extremist groups. It was so fascinating (I tend to be interested by slightly macabre subjects), but it also ended up being the most challenging research I’ve ever done. I remember reading about real-life cults with a terrible ache in the pit of my stomach, so much so that a couple of times, I had to close my computer because I thought I might be sick. Even though it wasn’t so fun, I think it’s through the process of research that writers can develop the empathy necessary to create the world; it ended up being very important for The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.

What do you think of the US and Australian covers of the book?

I am really, really happy with both of them. I had been pretty nervous about the cover. I even had a nightmare about it once. When I first got the email with the US cover attached, I could only see the tiny thumbnail but immediately I breathed a sigh of relief—I loved it right away. And I really love the Australian re-design! It is unbelievably cool to see a designer or artist create something original for something I’ve written.

Minnow covers


Do you have a playlist you listened to while writing Minnow?

I did! I tend to listen to lots of instrumental music when I write—movie soundtracks are my friend. I listened to the Amelie soundtrack to death, and Disney soundtracks are great, too (even if they sometimes make me daydream rather than productively write). I also sometimes listen to songs by bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, and Sufjan Stevens, which I’ve heard so many times, they’re almost more of a mood than a song, and they blur into the background.

What’s one bit of advice you wish you’d been given as an aspiring writer?

I was such a perfectionist—and still am to a large extent—and perfectionism is kind of the mortal enemy of writing. I gave myself a really hard time when I was starting out if things weren’t going perfectly. If I could give myself some advice, I think I’d try to convince myself that the process is easier—and I’m even a better writer—when I relinquish some of that perfectionism.

What books are on your TBR right now?

Basically every book on earth (slight exaggeration). My TBR has its own bookcase. Some high priority books are Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier, A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith, Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond, and The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes! I’m doing revisions for my second YA mystery, The Arsonist, which is about a boy and a girl from California trying to solve the murder of an East German girl from the 1980s.

Do you know what happens to Minnow after the end of the book?

I definitely have a sense of what happens, yes, but I’m also happy to let readers imagine their own version.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like watching TV and movies, and I’m also a very avid reader. Lately, I’ve been devouring comic books, too. My local comic book shop is one of my favourite places. Some recent favourites are Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes, the Amulet series, and I hold a very soft spot in my heart for This One Summer.


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is out now

Follow Stephanie Oakes on Twitter