Get to know our Youth Ambassadors: Josephine Renee

By Josephine Renee

Josephine Renee is studying creative writing at QUT. She has volunteered at the Brisbane Writers Festival 2022–2023 and looks forward to being a Youth Ambassador. She has travelled Europe for two years, spent a year and a half in North America, and recently returned from Paris. When not gaining world-building inspiration, she dedicates her time to writing and illustrating.

Youth Ambassadors

If you’re a writer, what kind of writing do you do? Are you working on anything right now?

My main project is a YA romantasy duology. The first book’s working title is 'If You Die It’s Your Own Fault'

Brief description: Fayedra is captured and her newly acquired earthling companion, Kit, is left alone in her world. He is aided by a dragon, accosted by a talking toad who needs a kiss, and winds up engaged to a scary lesbian warrior princess. With the help of these unlikely allies, Kit might be able to save Fayedra and maybe all sirens.

I also have a free-to-read online webcomic on Webtoons called 'Horn-Nhei' (GL)(BL). It’s a silly little sapphic romantic comedy about high schoolers with Horns.

The next project I’m excited to focus on is my ode to being Aussie. Its working title is 'Venomous Villains'. The story is narrated by the ghost of the first hero of this alternate Earth Australia who is bored with watching heroes and making sure they’re living up to her legacy that she decides to follow these villains for the sheer entertainment they provide.

What are your reading goals for 2023?

I know people who have over 1,000 read books in their Goodreads and I’m jealous. I want to improve the amount of literature I’m consuming but also find a way to support authors more. Such as trying to find a platform other than Audible as they monopolise the market on audiobooks and keep around 60% of the royalties for themselves and 75% if the audiobook isn’t sold exclusively through Audible. For the moment I’ve mostly been getting my audiobooks from the Brisbane City Council Library through Libby and buying books from Brisbane Lifeline Bookfest. I also want to attend more live-reading events such as Ruckus poetry slams and QUT’s Literary Salons.

I’ve sadly only recently found out that Big W and such sell their books for the same price as Amazon, and I’d rather support Big W and buy all the new releases from there. This year I want to support Brisbane bookstores such as Avid Reader, Archives Fine Books, Shelf Lovers and more. The Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) bookshop (SLQ Library Shop) also doesn’t mark up their prices and only sells them at retail price which I think is kind of insane, but insanely brilliant for us book buyers. So, I always save up to be able to afford the novels I’m curious about or that everyone is talking about, and get them signed. FOMOOB is real, the fear of missing out on books.

What is your favourite genre and why?

I love romantic fantasy (romantasy). I feel authors get more space within the genre to play with conventions and characters. The romance genre and especially romantasy feels deeply feminist as you see women thrive and become royalty and assassins and anything really.

What book or author do you always recommend?

What book or author do you always recommend?

Brandon Sanderson has such a huge collection of work that you’re sure to find something that attracts you. Do you want a heist high fantasy where the chosen one lost, and you’re living in the aftermath but from the perspective of a woman and there’s an epic almost alchemistic hard magic system – read 'Mistborn'. Is the coziest of fantasy romances your thing? – read 'Tress of the Emerald Sea'. Do you want a book that’s a commentary on the state of the arts and an ode to being an artist but that’s written from the perspective of a coat rack – read 'Yumi and the Nightmare Painter'. Do you want a science-fiction young adult novel – read 'Skyward'. The list goes on I assure you and each is brilliant in their way.

If you could meet any author, who would it be?

I’ve heard of this dinner that happened between C.S. Pacat, Vanessa Len, and a few other Melbourne authors who went to it and came out deciding to write a novel. They helped each other through the process and still have these dinners, even Shelly Parker-Chan went at one point, I think. That would be phenomenal to attend.

If you could pick the world of one book or book series to live in, what would it be?

I think it’s the world of a recent read, 'Yumi and the Nightmare Painter' by Brandon Sanderson. I’d never read a fantasy world I’d wanted to live in before it. Mostly because I value my life and don’t want to die and for most of them, I would die. In Komashi there is this rich cultural world with real spirits and the arts are highly valued. There’s technology, television, hot running water, restaurants, all the things I’ve grown accustomed to in my world, but there are elements of the fantastical. The danger, ‘the nightmares’ can be painted away, so ultimately, I’m good, and feel I’ve finally found a fantasy world I could protect myself in. The book itself isn’t an absolute favourite but the world just feels so liveable to me. I also love that it is in the Cosmere and I want to be a worldhopper like Hoid.

Do you have a book you always find yourself coming back to?

I always feel there are too many books in the world to keep reading the same ones, but I’ve recently re-read Cassandra Clare’s 'Clockwork Angel' and I love it. It was the book that got me into reading and writing, I could read it a thousand more times. #TeamWill

Any upcoming releases you can’t wait to get your hands on?

'Heavenly Tyrant' (Iron Widow, #2) by Xiran Jay Zhao.

Where is your favourite place to read?

Where is your favourite place to read?

In my bed in my PJs with a cup of tea. But the powerful thing about books is that they can make almost any uncomfortable place bearable, even a doctor's office when you’re waiting on results can be transformed. I’ve taken up running recently while listening to audiobooks and that’s the only way I can get through it, knowing that if I stop, I must stop the book because that book has now become my running book and I can’t listen to it outside of exercising.

Do you prefer paperback, hardcover or ebook?

I love annotating a paperback while listening to the audiobook. I can smell the paper and have the kinetic motion of highlighting while hearing the words, reading them, and imagining them coming to life. There’s something about having so many senses activated that tickles something at the back of my brain and I love it.

#Follow for more!

I have spoken more on these questions in my recent BookTuber Newbie Tag video.

Click below to follow my YouTube channel.

Click below to follow me on Instagram.

Check out my website for a lot more, where you can keep track of my publications and there’s more on my current works in progress too.

Thank you for reading I hope you have a great day.

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