Somerset StoryFest Report – part eight

Somerset StoryFest report 2019– part eight

Now the best part of Somerset is there are times you can get more bang for your buck by going to panel sessions. The sure to be winners in my book. This year I was limited by both time and resources so I needed to cram as much of the author’s inspiration into my visit to Somerset as I could. Therefore, I picked for my last session: – Take Three Girls – a book and panel comprising Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood.

Session 10.15am to 11 am –

Take Three Girls – Year 11 Common Room – Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood

cath crowley picCath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, Graffiti Moon (I’ve read and loved) and Words in Deep Blue. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Words in Deep Blue won the Indie Book Awards Young Adult Fiction of the Year 2017, the Gold Inky Award 2017 and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Her collaborative novel Take Three Girls, written with YA luminaries Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell, won the CBCA Award for Book of the Year: Older Readers 2018 and was shortlisted for a Gold Inky Award 2018.

Simmone Howell is the award-winning author of YA novels Girl Defective, Everything SimmoneHoweell-1Beautiful and Notes from the Teenage Underground. She also writes non-fiction about dream houses, teen movies and ways to map a city. She lives in Melbourne and is currently working on a memoir about her formative female influences.

fiona woodFiona Wood is the award-winning author of three interlinked novels, Six Impossible Things, Wildlife, and Cloudwish. The books are published internationally and are Junior Library Guild Selections in the US. Take Three Girls, co-authored with Cath Crowley and Simmone Howell, won the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers, was shortlisted for the Indie and Gold Inky awards and has been honoured by the International Youth Library as a White Ravens selection. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a screenwriter. She lives in Melbourne.

Take Three Girls cover

This beautifully crafted, lively novel captures the good and the bad of female friendship” Bec Kavanagh Books + Publishing, 5 stars.


3 award-winning authors.
1 compelling book.

ADY – not the confident A-Lister she appears to be.
KATE – brainy border taking risks to pursue the music she loves.
CLEM – disenchanted swim-star losing her heart to the wrong boy.

All are targeted by PSST, a toxic website that deals in gossip and lies. St Hilda’s antidote to the cyber-bullying? The Year 10 Wellness program. Nice try – but sometimes all it takes is three girls.

Exploring friendship, feminism, identity and belonging. Take Three Girls is honest, raw and funny.


Now to my notes, after the introduction of all three ladies, Cath Crowley began with a reading from the book. The end of that scene shows Clem practising playing the cello alone and not wanting anyone to see her.

Q. How did you three ladies meet?

simmone-howell torso bio pic b&wA. Simmone, I write for television went to an event to talk about ‘The Secret Life of Us’ there I met Fiona through another writer at the writer’s centre. Fiona, we had the same publisher and attended the same writing retreat. Cath, me too.

Q. How did your relationship grow as you were writing this book?

A. Fiona, we were already friends and were well down the road to creating together. Simmone, it takes a long time, we don’t want to jinx it, by freeing us to write our sections then putting the work together. Fiona, how it developed made the characters’ friendships better and stronger. The earliest things we decided to make sure writing this book wasn’t going to wreck our friendship. Cath, though trying to tie the story together, the editing is the most difficult thing, we were constantly applying changes, the editor on her shoulder with two other people made it ok.

Q. What the book is about effects teenagers our age. (the host and her audience)Cath Crowley in chair

A. Simmone – the main thing online lumber secrets that are negative, toxic, viral things – each girl individual thing to deal with – Clem back to her own body image and finding a place in the world. Fiona – before internet bullying it would stop when you went home, now online it’s 24/7, being prosecuted rarely is a horror. Cath – made the reference of a secret tracker. Fiona – we didn’t want to sugar coat it, we won ‘Book of the Year.’ Simmone – realistic on the share the load. Cath – wade into the world.

Q. How did you go about structuring your novel?

A. Simmone – pre-planning, Fiona TV writing experience – getting the details. Fiona – this will be so much fun, chapter planning each one of us had a character. Each, two writers, write the same scene, from different points of view. Cath – we mapped out where the characters stand in relation to one another. Simmone – people remember differently.

Fiona wood Bio PicQ. All three of you are strong women, what does Feminism mean to you?

A. Simmone – Equality is not what you look like. Cath – same opportunity to the same pay. Fiona – Feminism has a bad rap, we need to go back to the meaning – Political equality, Economic equality, Social equality, Fundamental Social equality. There are still demonstrable differences.

Q. How do you think peoples outlook has changed in the last ten years?

A. Fiona – we have become immune to normal – nobody questioned it – at that time description of the status quo. Those questions asked now frequently look at with fresh eyes. Young people need to ask questions. Simmone – Now people are asking questions when I was at school, we didn’t. Cath – I love the way the world is now, very hopeful, the world is changing. Fiona – people are pushing back. Only a small percentage, so little and threatened.

Q. Relationships of the three girls in the book, did you want to protect your character?somerset stand

A. Simmone – Clem had self-esteem, she thought the boy was good and easily influenced by him but not a good relationship. Not needing external validation from boys, now – its change male opinion previously more important than female.

Q. How you drew inspiration from when you were at school?

cathcrowley-39A. Cath – I lived in the country and wanted to get out, I loved music, art, reading and literature. Fiona – I grew up in a middle-class safe environment, but my father was an alcoholic and there was pressure in the family to keep it a secret. Be authentic to herself but keep the family secret. Journals were more revealing.

Q. Did you slip into the characters you were writing?

A. Cath – Yes, while we were discussing them. Fiona – as professional writing it helps to keep you focused. Simmone – Emotionally true and everything else will follow. Cath -we were learning more of the craft using a whiteboard, fine-tuning the characters, cleaned up. Fiona – by the end of the book we knew all the characters.

Q. Why do you think YA’s read this type of book?

A. Simmone – wanted to write a book that was real for right now. Fiona – Online Simmone Howell - author photooptimistic ideas to gain strength and support each other’s back. Cath – freedom to be yourself. Fiona – deliberately structure wellness program people can feel ashamed of but constructive conversation helps.

Q. Write a book in a day story beats – plot pursuits?

A. Fiona – Story bead is something that happens in the story, narrative progression. Simmone – Save the Cat eight beats. Fiona – Film writing and novel writing depends on structure.

Q. How hard was it to stay on target?

A. Cath – amazing things happened to change the story but we kept to a plan.

fiona Simmone and CathQ. When writing what circumstance did you have?

A. Fiona – age group readers and how would you feel.

Q. Who are your biggest idols and inspirations?

A. Simmone – there are so many, artists who are true to themselves. Fiona – Jane Austin – a sense of humour. Cath – Jacinta Ardern said (and I didn’t note the quote)

Q. When you started this project did you think you would win an award?

A. Cath – no, it’s amazing.

Then we’d run out of time and the students moved on after photos were taken. I’ll hold happy memories of my day and a half at Somerset StoryFest 2019, for the rest of my year. I plan to get there next year and see more.

I hope you enjoyed my eight-part report. 





About jillsmith

I am an author of SciFi Books 'Dual Visions' and it's follow up 'Vashla's world' now retitled Book 1 and Book 2 of the Ancient Alien Series, as I've written the third in the series currently titled Travellers. I also write book reviews, articles and short stories. As a member of The Ten Penners, I've written six short stories in a collaborative our anthology for children called Fan-tas-tic-al Tales (released 2009), and nine stories including a novella in Mystery, Mayhem & Magic (released 2017). They are both available in hard copy and on Amazon as ebooks. I also contributed to 'Spooktacular Stories' a Share Your Story anthology launched in October 2019. I blog to showcase my work. My book reviews appear in PIO (Pass It On) and e-Writeabout. I'm a happy Grandmother to two beautiful girls, wife of the ever tolerant Clive, mother of our son Simon and mum in law to Cassie. I lead a busy life.
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