Launch of Fiona Snycker’s Team Trinity at SKOOBS in Joburg
Young Joburg turned out in force on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the launch of Team Trinity at Skoobs Theatre of Books at Montecasino, and to watch a memorable panel discussion. Proving that books are indeed an effective drawcard, even on a weekend afternoon, the launch attracted teenagers from all over Jozi.
The media, bloggers and Twitterati were also present with representatives from Get It magazine, The Times, children’s fiction website Puku, and lifestyle blog Syllable in the City.
Team Trinity is the third book in Fiona Snyckers’ acclaimed Trinity series. In true Star Wars fashion, the book is a prequel – Trinity Luhabe is 16 years old and in Grade 10 at her private school in Johannesburg. The book has been described by SABC2 presenter Sam Marshall as offering something for everyone with a heist, a mystery, a love triangle, and a twist in the tail that few readers see coming.
The launch of Team Trinity was about more than just one book though. A flash fiction competition for teens was held before the launch, and the three winning writers were invited to read their stories aloud at the event and to accept their book prizes. The topic for the competition was ‘A Controlling Relationship’, which was interpreted in an intriguingly different light by the three winners.
Lebogang Mashego of Roedean School wrote a searing story about a physically abusive relationship between lovers. Savannah Fremantle’s story was about the ways in which society polices young women’s bodies. Ricardo Rodrigues of St Martin’s High wrote about a meat hook that tempts and taunts the protagonist into committing suicide.
(To read the stories, click onto the links above, on the writer’s names.)
These unsettling stories provided the perfect segue into the panel discussion – ‘Who decides what’s suitable for teens to read?’ Moderator, Helen Holyoake, asked whether swearing is ever appropriate in a book for teenagers. Sinovuyo Nkonki, the author of teen romance Crooked Halo, answered that it should always be possible to rework a piece of writing to eliminate the need to swear. Kathryn White agreed, adding that on rereading her first novel Emily Green and Me she was struck by the realisation that the swearing she’d thought indispensible could easily have been left out.
Joanne McGregor (Turtle Walk and Rock Hard) argued that it’s okay to tackle controversial topics in teen fiction provided these topics are handled responsibly. Fiona Snyckers responded that the only responsibility of the teen fiction writer is to tell a good story. ‘Surely there is room for the renegade voice in teen fiction?’ she asked. ‘The subversive voice that isn’t interested in sending the right message?’
McGregor argued that there is indeed room for this renegade voice provided it is balanced by other perspectives. All the panellists agreed that it is disingenuous for adults to say that authors are ‘putting ideas into teenagers’ heads’ by writing about difficult topics. Those ideas are already there, as the flash fiction competition had just demonstrated.
Mcgregor made the point that parents allow their children to watch almost anything they like on television and at the movies but become surprisingly prim where books are concerned. The panel agreed that this was a testament to the power of fiction and its ability to sway opinions.