Mischa Parkee, of beloved Newtown bookstore Better Read Than Dead, knows a thing or two about the world of YA. In fact, she's the official YA Specialist, which basically makes her the authority on who you should be reading after you've finished the latest Sarah J Maas novel. 

Here, Mischa breaks down what she's most looking forwards to at this year's epic All Day YA

Love Oz YA Anthology: Begin, End, Begin

I love that Aussie YA is becoming more popular and widespread (which has a lot to do with the incredible #LoveOzYA online movement). It’s important to have authentic, young, and contemporary Australian voices heard, especially because of their diversity! The release of the Love Oz YA anthology Begin, End, Begin is the YA event of the year for me so far and I look forward to hearing what these talented, successful, and passionate Aussie YA authors have to say about their writing and why it’s important to support Australian books and Australian authors. I’m certain it will be an uplifting and celebratory panel about how much there truly is to love about Oz YA!

Keeping Company: Characters Across a Series

I am looking forward to this panel mainly for Garth Nix! His books have immersed me and challenged me over the years, and I take great inspiration from the ways in which he constructs his characters. James Bradley is a master storyteller of future worlds, and I am a fiend for post-apocalyptic YA (especially when it is done well!), so I’m hoping this panel will include a discussion on characters within dystopian novels. I'm also interested in this panel for my own writing as I am intrigued as to how writers can keep characters interesting and dynamic across multiple novels, and have them leave a special place in our hearts.

More Than Meets the Eye: Diversity in YA Fiction

This is a topic that sparks my interest, especially in YA novels because I believe it’s important to represent diversity to teenagers and young adults in an authentic way. I hope this panel discusses how they each create diverse characters that are not tokenistic, artificial, or stereotypical. I can’t even decide which author I’m most looking forward to seeing from this panel — Sarah Ayoub, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Erin Gough or Will Kostakis. It’s just too hard! Each writer on the panel is a groundbreaking and inspirational figure to me, as I’m sure they are to many other fans out there! These four Australian YA writers are sure to provide an inspiring, funny, and diverse discussion!

Talking Tough Topics with Jennifer Niven

Jennifer Niven is renowned for writing fiction that draws on her own personal struggles and life-altering experiences of growing up. This is what makes her writing so raw and so real for many teens and young adults. I am fascinated by her boldness and her ability to write fictionally about things that she holds so close to her, especially things that might be deemed controversial in some way. There is lots of discussion in the media at the moment about including tough topics in YA literature so I think it will be interesting to hear from a writer who writes about these ‘tough topics’ for teens and what her opinion is about some of the contentious backlash. I look forward to hearing what Jennifer has to say about adapting her experiences and how it feels for her to let them out into the world to be read, interpreted, and discussed.

Defying Expectations: How Female Writers Defy Stereotypes

This is a topic that I hold particularly close to my heart. Being a young woman, and trying to make it as a writer, I am excited to hear what four incredibly successful female YA writers have to say about defying the expectations of gender stereotypes. All four writers on the panel are such inspirations to me! Their writing is raw and genuine and full of life. I am most interested in hearing Amie Kaufman speak about being a female writer who writes female characters that defy stereotypes within the science-fiction and fantasy genres, which are still genres that are overly dominated and defined by male writers, male characters, and gender stereotypes.

— Mischa Parkee, YA Specialist at Better Read Than Dead