Australian author, born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1968.
Sonya Hartnett made her publishing debut at the age of just 15, since when she has written 18 novels for children, young people and adults – although she herself generally prefers not to specify which age group she is writing for.
She is one of the authors currently charting a new course in both form and content for teen fiction, bringing it closer to adult fiction and blurring the distinction. She also constantly pushes her own boundaries. No two works are alike. She skilfully adapts her beautiful, precise and illustrative language and her artful narrative technique to the requirements of each novel.
Hartnett often depicts situations of power and dependence in small groups: a family, a group of friends or a pair of twins. One of the ways in which she has renewed young adult fiction is by delving deep into the psyche of young people with difficult and traumatic experiences behind them. What her characters go through is often hard to endure. No reader can fail to be moved by what she describes. She does not avoid that which is dark, unpleasant or malevolent. However, beneath the surface there is a powerful, throbbing anger at the way children and young people are sometimes treated – an anger that, coupled with her masterful narrative ability, creates a sense of empathy and involvement.
Astrid Lindgren’s works are permeated by an empathy with children living under difficult circumstances. Hartnett’s original and provocative writings take this subject matter into a new era.
Sonya Hartnett has been translated into a number of languages, including Danish, German, Swedish, Italian and Chinese. She has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Literature Prize in the UK for Thursday’s Child in 2002 and the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers in 2005 for her children’s book The Silver Donkey.