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Melina Marchetta
Born 25 March 1965 (1965-03-25) (age 56)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Writer
Nationality Australian
Period 1992–present
Genre Young adult fiction
Notable works
  • Looking for Alibrandi
  • Finnikin of the Rock
  • Saving Francesca
  • On the Jellicoe Road
Notable awards CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers

Carmelina Marchetta (born 25 March 1965) is an Australian writer and teacher. Marchetta is best known as the author of teen novels, Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road. She has twice been awarded the CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers, in 1993 and 2004. For Jellicoe Road she won the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, recognizing the year's best book for young adults.

Education and early work

Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney on 25 March 1965. She is of Italian descent; a middle child with two sisters. Marchetta attended high school at Rosebank College in the Sydney suburb of Five Dock. She left school at age fifteen as she was not confident in her academic ability. She then enrolled in a business school which helped her gain employment with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and later at a travel agency. This work gave her confidence to return to study and gain a teaching degree from the Australian Catholic University. She then got a job teaching at St Mary's Cathedral College, Sydney in the heart of the Sydney CBD until 2006. She now writes full-time.

Breakthrough: Looking for Alibrandi

Her first novel, Looking for Alibrandi was released in 1992 to much acclaim with a first print-run sellout within two months of its release. Published in 14 countries, including 11 translated editions, Looking for Alibrandi swept the pool of literary awards for young adult fiction in 1993 including the coveted CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers. Dubbed "the most stolen library book", the popular novel has sold more than half a million copies worldwide and was followed by her film adaptation of the same title released in 1999, Looking for Alibrandi.

Worldwide recognition: 2003–present

While writing the AFI award-winning screenplay Marchetta taught English, Italian and History full-time for ten years at a city high school for boys. During that time she released her second novel, Saving Francesca in 2003, followed by On the Jellicoe Road in 2006. Both novels have been published in more than 6 countries, with Saving Francesca translated into 4 languages. In its U.S. edition, Jellicoe Road won the 2009 Printz Award for "literary excellence in young adult literature".

Marchetta's fourth novel, the fantasy epic Finnikin of the Rock, was released by Penguin Australia in October 2008. It has since won the 2008 Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel and the 2009 ABIA (Australian Booksellers Industry Awards) Book of the Year for Older Children, and was recently shortlisted for the 2009 CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers. In the USA Finnikin has received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

Marchetta has also written short stories including Twelve Minutes, part of the Books Alive anthology "10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year", along with reviews and opinion pieces for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the Australian Literary Review. She has also been a writer-in-residence around the country, as far north as Thursday Island and as far south as Hobart.

Her fifth novel, The Piper's Son was released in Australia in 2010 and is an accompanying novel to Saving Francesca, but through the perspective of another character in the book.

She is currently working on getting the Jellicoe Road movie script into production, while also working on writing the script for Saving Francesca. She has told fans that she is working on another book, which came out in 2016 titled Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil. Melina then went on to collaborate with Kathryn Barker on a book When Rosie Met Jim/ Shoeboxes: Volume 22. In 2019, she released The Place on Dalhousie.

Personal life

Melina Marchetta currently resides in Sydney. Marchetta makes frequent visits to schools to talk about her books. She also attends interviews, book signings, book club meetings at libraries and bookshops and gives talks to students about her novels. Marchetta has a blog on which she announces book updates, interviews and thoughts and anything in relation to writing and her novels.

Awards and nominations

  • Won - CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers for Looking for Alibrandi (1993)
  • Won - Film Critics Circle of Australia, Best Screenplay - Adapted for Looking for Alibrandi (2000)
  • Won - New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Script Writing Award for Looking for Alibrandi (2000)
  • Won - Australian Film Institute Award, Best Adapted Screenplay for Looking for Alibrandi (2000)
  • Won - BILBY Award: Older Readers winner for Looking for Alibrandi (2000)
  • Shortlisted - South Australia Premier's Awards, Children's Literature Award for Saving Francesca (2004)
  • Won - CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers for Saving Francesca (2004)
  • Shortlisted - Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA), Australian Book of the Year: Older Children for On the Jellicoe Road (2007)
  • Shortlisted - Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Best Young Adult Book for On the Road (2007)
  • Won - Aurealis Award, Young Adult Division, Best Long Fiction for Finnikin of the Rock (2008)
  • Won - Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature for On the Jellicoe Road (2009)
  • Shortlisted - New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Young Adult Book Award for The Piper's Son (2010)
  • Shortlisted - NSW Premier's Literary Prize, Ethel Turner Prize for The Piper's Son (2010)
  • Shortlisted - Prime Minister's Literary Awards, Young Adult Literature, for The Piper's Son (2011)


Marchetta wrote the screenplay for the film Looking for Alibrandi (1999), a film starring Pia Miranda, Greta Scacchi and Anthony La Paglia. The film received rave reviews and was a huge box office success, winning five awards including an AFI award and an Independent Film Award for best screenplay, as well as the NSW Premier's Literary Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award.

She is currently working on the screenplay of her novel On the Jellicoe Road. In interviews she has announced that she will be trying to keep the film as similar to events in the book. "I'm always irritated when I watch films that were based from books, but where whole scenes are just cut out. It's really a disappointment" she told the Australian YA Circle, in an Interview earlier in March 2012. "I don't want Jellicoe Road to be those books that should never have been made into a film sort of thing." The development of the film is being kept strictly closed, but there is talks about cast members being auditioned as close as late this year.

Selected works

  • Looking for Alibrandi (1993), novel
  • Looking for Alibrandi (1999), screenplay
  • On the Jellicoe Road (2006); U.S. title, Jellicoe Road (2008)
  • The Gorgon in the Gully: Pocket Money Puffins (September 2010)
  • Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil (2016)
  • When Rosie Met Jim/ Shoeboxes: Volume 22 (2017) with Kathryn Barker

Saving Francesca

  • Saving Francesca (2003)
  • The Piper's Son (March 2010)
  • The Place on Dalhousie (2019)

The Lumatere Chronicles

  • Finnikin of the Rock (2008)
  • Froi of the Exiles (2011)
  • Quintana of Charyn (2012)
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