Episode 2

Teenage male friendships, all-boys schools and peak-2000s culture with Rhiannon Wilde

Rhiannon Wilde has been telling stories for as long as she can remember - inside her head but also as a journalist and high school English teacher in Brisbane. Her short story inspired by urban Brisbane, You Deserve Nothing, was longlisted for the Queensland Young Writer’s Award in 2014. But in this episode, we will be discussing her debut young adult novel, Henry Hamlet’s Heart. This beautiful story won the Queensland Literary Awards Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer in 2019 and has just been published. 

Our interview begins at 10 minutes. 

Mini book club: This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

We enjoyed this fascinating contemporary fantasy novel about a girl with the power to control the natural world, and survive the deadliest poisons. This Poison Heart weaves Greek mythology with a compelling and exciting magical story that kept us hooked from start to finish. 

You can listen to our chat with Kalynn in season 5. 

*Note: We received review copies of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing. 

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Where the character of Henry Hamlet came from and how he became an insistent voice as Rhiannon wrote
  • The fraught magic of your senior year of high school and why it makes for amazing YA novels
  • Why Rhiannon chose to set the book in 2008 and why, for her, that is peak 2000s era
  • The magic of Brisbane and why it made the perfect setting
  • How Rhiannon got inside the mind of her teenage protagonist
  • The all-boys school setting and why it feels like a space we’re rarely given access to in media
  • How Rhiannon’s experience as a teacher influenced her writing
  • The response from real teen readers
  • Why The Great Gatsby is a thread running through the novel and queer coding of texts

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Laurinda by Alice Pung
  • Easy A
  • Folklore and Evermore

Follow Rhiannon @Rhiannon_Wilde. Henry Hamlet's Heart is available now. 

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

*Note: We both received PR copies of Henry Hamlet's Heart from UQP Books.

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.