Posted by: Debbie Kahl | June 13, 2011

Cath Crowley Interview and Graffiti Moon …

Since its release last year, anyone who’s anyone in the world of YA literature has been buzzing about the fabulous Graffiti Moon, written by the equally fabulous Cath Crowley. And with good reason, its an amazing book that engages the reader with its unique plot, intriguing characters and fast moving narrative. If you haven’t discovered Graffiti Moon yet, here’s a little blurb about what you’re missing.

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist. Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose. Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it. Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other. An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

And today, hot on the heels of her recent win in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Graffiti Moon in the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature category – and her shortlisting for the Children’s Book Council of Australia award for Older Readers – we’re lucky enough to interview Cath Crowley on her inspiration behind Graffiti Moon and her writing adventures.

WLYA: Thanks for joining us here are We Love YA Cath. Can you tell us about your inspiration for Graffiti Moon.

The characters in Graffiti Moon are fictional – but the ideas for them came from people I’ve met or heard about while researching. I met a night time poet in a dark park, a girl who told me she was psychic, a boy who knew a boy who had blue hands from painting, a girl who loved to blow glass in Year 12.

Shadow and Lucy, the main characters, connect through art. So the conversations they have are inspired by the artists that I love – Mark Rothko, Sam Leach, Rosemary Laing, Jeffrey Smart, Pablo Picasso, Johannes Vermeer, Michael Zavros, Rosalie Gascoigne, Bethany Wheeler, Ghostpatrol and Miso. I wanted to write about two people who speak through images as well as words. The landscape is a mix of Footscray, Northcote and the city.

WLYA: What were you like as a teenager? Do your characters reflect this?

I read a lot as a teenager. I had great friends who were interested in words and music and film. I was fairly quiet and a bit of a dreamer. I was very curious. There are definitely some similarities between my teenage characters and my teenage self.

But my characters really reflect the specific things I’m interested in now. Graffiti Moon is about what happens when you’re an outsider. It’s about the artworks I love. It’s about how we can feel trapped by our physical and mental landscapes. I’m sure these preoccupations are linked to my teenage years but I didn’t think about them consciously back then.

WLYA: If you could go back in time and give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?

At least until you’re forty, everything will mostly be fine. Even when it isn’t fine. So try not to worry so much.

WLYA: What exciting things are coming up for you?

I’m working on a book called The Howling Boy. It’s a mystery and a love story. Graffiti Moon comes out in America in early 2012. It’s being translated too, so I’ll get to see it in different languages soon, which is exciting for me. 

WLYA: What is the best advice you would give a budding YA writer?

I heard Markus Zusak speaking at Reading Matters and he said something along the lines of – write the book that only you can write. I think about that when I’m working on my novel now and it helps. I think it’s great advice.

WLYA: A lot of authors recommend joining a writers’ group as a way to improve your craft. What’s your opinion on this?

I don’t have a regular writing group but I have writers who will look at my work, discuss it with me and give advice. I’d be lost without them. I think writing groups are great. I studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT and the workshopping was one of the best things about the course. I found the critical feedback invaluable. At a certain stage in my novel, though, I need to block all other voices out except mine. I think it’s important for a writer to trust their instincts.

WLYA: What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?

Making up characters and dialogue. I love it.

WLYA: How often do you get to connect with your YA audience?

I do a lot of school talks, so I get to connect with my teenage audience fairly regularly. I can’t write a lot while I’m on a residency, but when I come home I have a lot of ideas for the page.

WLYA: What are you reading at the moment?  

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and the Poppy series by Gabrielle Wang. Both are great reads.

WLYA: What do you like to do in your spare time?

I go to lectures and talks. I went to a great panel last week that included artists Vernon Ah Kee and Bindi Cole. This weekend I’m going to a talk on jazz and mathematics. I go to galleries and the planetarium. I hang out with friends and family. Most of my ideas happen when I’m not at the computer.

WLYA: What’s your writing life like?

I like to start writing at about five in the morning, earlier if I can get up. This is the best time for me. It’s quiet. There’s no distraction. If I don’t have a school talk on then I’ll work through until the afternoon. I have a break and do some exercise and if I have an idea while I’m out I’ll come back and write some more. Usually I spend the afternoon doing administrative tasks.I mix this routine up with going out and exploring. I look for things that might give me an idea – exhibitions, films and friends.

WLYA: Thank you so much for joining us here at We Love YA and we wish you the very best of luck in the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards.

Thank you Debbie and We Love YA.

For more information on Cath’s writing adventures, make sure you drop by and visit her at



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  2. Wonderful work! Thank you.

  3. What a great interview! I especially love the advice – write the book only you can write. I’ll have to check out Cath’s book.

  4. Thanks MJ. I first met Cath at a Challenging Teens seminar at the Somerset Literature festival earlier this year and was just amazed and inspired by her talent and honesty about the writing journey. And you really do need to read Graffiti Moon, it is truly an amazing book. I just loved it. Oh, and I hope your book is also flying off the shelves! xx

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