Interview: Stephanie Stepan, YA Publicist (Text Publishing)

The Centre for Youth Literature has picked the brains of Australia’s YA publishers to gain insight into their work, and their titles.  For the next few weeks we will be featuring interviews with a number of individuals on their work in YA publishing.


Why hello, I’m Stephanie Stepan, Children’s and YA publicist over at Text Publishing. You may not know me, but I’m certain you know our authors!

We publish children’s and YA authors such as Rebecca Stead, Paula Weston, David Levithan, John Green, Sally Rippin and Vikki Wakefield. Now, we publicists are a tricky breed to pin down. A large part of our job goes on behind the scenes where we organise things like interviews and reviews that later appear in magazines, newspapers, online and on radio and TV. You can also find us with authors at events and writers’ festivals around the country.

What is the first book you worked on and in what capacity?

The first book I worked on was an absolute gem called WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. I consider myself very lucky to have worked on this book as a publicist. Firstly, it’s not every day that book like this lands on your desk and secondly, Rebecca Stead may just be the nicest author ever. If you haven’t yet had the joy of meeting Miranda in Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME I suggest you don’t wait a minute longer. And I’m certain you’ll also love Georges, the narrator of Rebecca’s latest novel LIAR & SPY. He really is the most remarkable spy.

What is the most anticipated release of this year?

Where to begin? I note that this question seems to be asking for a singular title, but you can’t very well ask me for just one! Here at Text Publishing we can’t stop talking about Alyssa Brugman’s first YA novel in several years, ALEX AS WELL (Feb 2013). Refreshing and fearless doesn’t even begin to describe this unforgettable book. We’re also counting down the days until the release of debut author Tim Hehir’s JULIUS AND THE WATCHMAKER (May 2013). It’s a fabulous time-travel adventure set mostly in Victorian era London. If you loved Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, then this book is for you.

As you can see, we love our home grown novelists here at Text, and this coming June we’re celebrating the best in Aussie writing with the Text YA Classics series.  Watch our for long-time favourites such as Joan Phipson’s The Watcher in the Garden, Ivan Southall’s Hill’s End, Patricia Wrightson’s I Own the Racecourse and Nan Chauncy’s They Found a Cave.

What are the popular themes in YA right now?
I’m seeing huge enthusiasm for really strong contemporary YA such as Vikki Wakefield’s ALL I EVER WANTED and her breathtaking second novel FRIDAY BROWN. 18-year-old Steph Bowe’s new novel ALL THIS COULD END (March 2013) is another really impressive example of this genre: witty, insightful and highly original. Like me, you may also find yourself with a bit of a crush on loveable geek Spencer.

You’ve probably also noticed a lot of love for New Adult. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if this is really all that different from the YA we know and love. I feel like it could just be a new found excuse for older readers to join the YA fan club. And of course, all welcome.

Which fictional character would you like to be?

It took me all of an eye blink to find my answer to this question. And then I couldn’t stop smiling (ok, maybe blushing) at the thought of it. You can turn me into Gaby Winters any day. You probably know Gaby as one of the sassy lead characters in Paula Weston’s SHADOWS (Book I of the Rephaim series). Sure, she can kick-ass with some pretty top fight moves, but all I really want to do is hangout with the hottest boy in town, Rafa. The frisson between Gaby and Rafa has all our hearts racing at Text HQ and, for anyone who loved SHADOWS, there is a sensational scene in Book II, HAZE (June 2013), that really does require a fan while reading.


A big thank you to Steph for sharing what excites her about young adult literature and the interesting titles soon to hit the shelves.


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