Episode 7

Unlikely friendships, dads in YA and feedback from your favourite authors with Tobias Madden

Tobias Madden has a special place in our hearts - a friend of the show and someone we are DYING to one day have a coffee with. Our guest grew up in Ballarat and worked for 10 years as a performer touring Australia and New Zealand with musicals including Mary Poppins, CATS, Singin' in the Rain, and Guys and Dolls. We first spoke to him for Better Words in 2019 when he edited and published Underdog, the first #LoveOzYA short story collection for previously unpublished Aussie writers. In 2019, he also wrote a cabaret show, Siblingship, which played to sold-out audiences and several cities. He’s a passionate member of the #LoveOzYA community and works in YA publishing. We have been very eagerly awaiting the publication of his debut novel, Anything But Fine, so we could once again welcome him to Better Words.

Our interview starts at 11 minutes. 

Michelle recommends

The Couple by Helly Acton (audiobook version)

A rom-com in a society where it's downright WEIRD to be in a couple. Thoughtful and delightful. The audiobook is especially good!

Caitlin recommends

The Deep End by Jenna Guillaume 

This is a super cute, summer YA short story published as part of the Australia Reads campaign. 

PS. You can support Caitlin's Steptember challenge for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance here. 

In this interview, we chat about: 

  • Why Tobias started trying to write a full-length contemporary manuscript after spending many years writing fantasy and how it unconsciously mirrored some of his own experiences as he was writing
  • Tobias’ experiences of homophobia growing up in a regional area
  • The disparity between public and private schools
  • The joy of writing Luca and Amina’s friendship in the novel
  • Developing the relationship between Luca and his dad
  • US publication and how much of the Aussie culture remained in the US edition
  • How it feels to have feedback and kind reviews/quotes from your favourite authors
  • Looking back on the Underdog #LoveOzYA short story collection and how it prepared Tobias for writing his own novel
  • The musical Tobias co-wrote with his husband and sister-in-law

Books and other things mentioned

Follow Tobias on Instagram @tobias_madden

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

Anything But Fine is available now and will be released in the US in early 2022.

Thank you to the team at Penguin Teen Aus for sending us copies of Anything But Fine  in preparation for the interview. 

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.