Monday, March 14, 2016

Kaeli Baker Blog Tour 14-19 March, 2016. Author of Sylvie the Second.

Kaeli Baker is the New Zealand author of a hot new YA novel Sylvie the Second (Submarine imprint, Mākaro Press), and she’s on a “blog tour” this week. 

Beattie’s Bookblog hosts her first with an interview on writing the “voice” of Sylvie – a young woman who feels invisible in a family with a sister facing mental health issues. The author has worked in the area of youth mental health, so to protect client sensitivities she uses another name for her fiction.

Children’s literature expert, Ruth McIntyre of the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie, says in her regular newsletter that she believes Baker “perfectly captures Sylvie’s ‘voice’”.

Sylvie, 15, is angry and upset -- with her parents, her "drama queen" sister Cate, who is back in a psych ward after another overdose, and now her supposed best friend has labelled her a a lesbian in front of the class. Tired of being invisible, she decides she needs a makeover and rashly falls in with the wrong crowd. Following a traumatic party, Sylvie is ostracised and has never felt so alone. But she hasn't reckoned on nerdy Belle, who alone proves to be a true friend, and the gorgeous pizza boy, Adam.

Sylvie is a warm and likeable girl who makes a few bad choices and then has to deal with the painful consequences. Baker deals with the effect depression can have on a dysfunctional family with compassion and sensitivity, and perfectly captures Sylvie's "voice". Although she tackles some heavy topics, such as cutting and STIs, it's ultimately a positive coming-of-age story. Recommended for age 13 plus.

Beattie’s Bookblog asked Kaeli Baker how she went about capturing  that all-important “voice”.

I’ve spent a lot of time with teenagers in many different capacities and have put quite a bit of effort into trying to be as cool as they are! I guess to be able to relate to them in conversation and make them want to chat to me, I’ve had to keep in touch with my younger self, and also let their language and way of talking rub off on me.

Did you find yourself listening in to conversations of young people to capture their language and the things they talk about?

Yeah, especially since I’ve worked with teens for so long it’s hard to avoid hearing their conversations. I was also that obnoxious old person who would come along and try to join in. I think young people are so smart and funny. I like to hear what they have to say.

You have worked with young people as a medical professional, did you find that helped create a voice for Sylvie and her sister?

I think it probably did. It certainly helped me write about the problems they face and the trouble they can sometimes have in communicating their distress.

What about your own experiences as a teenager, did they help in writing Sylvie?
I can relate to the struggle of being a teenager, which is why I’m drawn to working with them and why I like to write for them. My circumstances as a teenager were completely different to Sylvie’s, but I can definitely relate to the feeling of being invisible, uncool, and kind of lost in the crowd, in a way.

Thank you, Kaeli, for visiting Beattie’s Bookblog. We have a copy of Sylvie the Second and a bookmark to give away – write a comment below with your email address about why you’d like to read this book. Best answer wins.

Kaeli Baker continues her blog tour this week with visits to:

Tues 15 March:
Wed 16 March:
Thur 17 March:
Fri 18 March:
Sat 19 March:

Sylvie the Second is available in all good bookstores $25.

More at

1 comment:

Michelle Elvy said...

Sounds like an insightful book. We read aloud as a family and this is on my must-read-aloud list, with my 11- and 14-year-old daughters. I am sure we'll all get something out of it, and reading aloud is a family tradition that engenders broad discussions and debates. Looking forward to this new book -- thanks for sharing!