Lines in Space: Australian Verse Novels for Children and Young Adults (YA) in Conjunction with 'Copper Coast' Part 2

Author: Kathryn Jane (Kate) Deller-Evans

Deller-Evans, Kathryn Jane (Kate), 2014 Lines in Space: Australian Verse Novels for Children and Young Adults (YA) in Conjunction with 'Copper Coast' Part 2, Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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Verse novels are new sorts of books for children and adolescents that can be found on Australian bookshop and library shelves, and awards lists. This thesis, 'Lines in space: Australian verse novels for children and young adults (YA)' - in conjunction with 'Copper Coast' locates verse novels as a significantly different genre of writing for the younger-than-adult market. Verse novels feature pared-back prose, set out as for poetry, which also tell a story, or a number of stories, in first- or third-person narratives, from single or multiple points of view. The exegesis argues and the creative product illustrates that child and YA verse novels employ: voice-zones assembled in plot sequence; spare language; white space; and lines shaped into text tiles. The assumption that a verse novel is verse is challenged in this thesis. Verse novelists, like ordinary prose writers, may choose elements of expression traditionally associated with poetry but such features are not essential in verse novels for children and adolescents. What count are the characterisation, voice, and narrative pull, through the lines in space. Using as a methodological research tool texts that have won awards, this exegesis surveys primary, review and critical literature, tracing contemporary beginnings of verse novels for children and adolescents in Australia. Critical research in relation to the creative product provides a conceptual framework that is briefly applied to a variety of contemporary American and Australian exemplars, including a focus on Catherine Bateson's YA verse novel, his name in fire. This thesis identifies a recent local flourishing of junior verse novels. Practice-led research is married with creative praxis in the innovative form of a verse (voice-zone text tile) novel manuscript for teens, 'Copper Coast'. Reflection on the process of research and craft for the manuscript concludes the exegesis. 'Copper Coast' summary: After her father's death, 16-year-old MADDY's life is upended. Following eviction from their home in St Ives, Cornwall UK, Maddy's Australian artist mother GINNIFER inherits the miner's cottage of her birth in small-town Moonta, on South Australia's Copper Coast. Wrenched from her earlier expectations of work, and from her boyfriend TYSON, and high school girlfriends, Maddy must now navigate homemaking in a near-hovel. Frustrated by the region's non-existent mobile phone coverage, arid landscape and her hostile classmates, Maddy's only friend is Year 12 boy, local football captain, OWEN. Owen is involved in conflict at home, with his mother HELEN shielding him from his restless and ambitious father, DAVID, who runs a small plumbing and home improvement shop. David expects his son to begin full-time work in the family business soon, as does Owen's intensely possessive girlfriend, FOXIE. Foxie wishes to marry Owen and build their marital home in the Copper Coast's proposed development, virtually scuttling the young man's dreams of studying in the city. When Ginnifer succumbs to illness, then apparently to the lure of her old love, Owen's father David, Maddy is tested to discover just where her loyalties lie. She and Owen must consider who they really are, where they are from, and how they might forge their own futures.

Keywords: verse novel,children's and adolescent / young adult (YA) literature,voice-zone

Subject: English thesis, Creative writing thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Dr Christine Nicholls