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Episode 28 – Author’s choice

Michael Earp

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This episode I am joined by bookseller and writer Michael Earp.

Michael Earp is the editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories and contributor to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories. He has a teaching degree and a Masters in children’s literature and has worked between bookselling and publishing for over seventeen years as a children’s literature specialist. His writing has also appeared in The Victorian Writer and Aurealis.

We chat about recommending books, writing for young adults and of course, we pair some great reads with delicious things!
The pairings:
Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature—until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality.
At first, Edward is a welcome distraction. But who is he really, and why has he come? As love blooms and the world stops spinning, the secrets of the girls’ past begin to unravel and escape is the only option.
Michael asked his YA bookclub what they would pair with this book, but he didn’t like their answer and went with Scones with Peach Jam as he says of this book ‘It’s incredible how much can pivot on a scone …’

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

A fabulous recipe made in the book is Spatchcock chicken baked in duck fat with sourdough bread and Michael really started thinking about the sour in sourdough!

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

The 1989 Danvers Falcons are on an unaccountable winning streak. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza, whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all, the DHS Falcons prove to be as wily and original as their North of Boston ancestors, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport. 

This novel is a paean to the 80’s with big hair and Emilio Estevez the order of the day and it’s narrated collectively by all 11 players which is not a perspective I can remember ever reading before. Teen witchcraft slash field hockey is not immediately a genre which I would normally be drawn towards, and yet I knew I would love this book from the moment when the team members pledge themselves to the forces of eternal darkness by signing their names into a spiral notebook with Emilio Estevez’s face on it. I too remember the 80’s and my love for Emilio will never die.

This is such a fun, whimsical and yet fairly dark book but its strength lies in its portrayal of the difficulties of being a teenage girl in the 80’s, as well as the ways in which the 80’s weren’t exactly the best time for girls, let alone people of colour or queer people. And its darkness is really the darkness at the heart of all of us, but most especially teenagers. They are cruel, they are mean but they are also loyal and they love hard It was a joy to read and the ending surprised me.

There is a scene where one of the players, Abby, is eating a raw beetroot on a bus as the girls all talk about sex, her lips are getting stained this blood red and with the witchiness and Halloween references in this I did think about pairing it with a Blood Beetroot Cocktail – which is beetroot lemonade, Aperol and Prosecco but regardless of whatever drink you have I think you’d want to be eating a pizza, your favourite pizza whatever that might be, as long as it’s not too fancy but is oily and cheesy and tasty, it’s what the team would want you to do so that’s what I will pair with this book:

A Blood Beetroot Cocktail and your favourite pizza!


This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.