A thousand words festival
This Friday and Saturday the Northcote Town Hall will be full of words and thoughts and talk about reading and writing. A thousand words festival. It’s going to be great fun. Read all about it here. If you haven’t already got tickets, you can get them here. On Friday, Cath Crowley and I will be talking about how we build characters – and we’ll have two actors helping to illustrate our processes. If you come along, you can help us develop the characters. Steph Bowe and Cath and I will be talking about engaging reluctant readers with Bec Kavanagh, Simmone Howell will talk about literary diaries and the diary as a literary form. Michael Pryor and Leanne Hall will construct a story on the hop, with help from the audience. You can talk books and writing with Tim Pegler, Aimee Said, Andrew McDonald, Sally Rippin, Sue deGennaro and many other wonderful people!
somerset writers’ festival
Writer and reader heaven is a festival hosted by Somerset College on the Gold Coast. It’s a dedicated children’s and YA literature celebration. It’s buzzy, friendly, busy. Three huge marquees set up on the oval and four venues in the school itself are filled for three days – seven venues running five sessions a day, as well as various extra panels and workshops. The school quad becomes the Hardback Cafe, feeding thousands of hungry readers with signed books and food.
The library is set up as the writers’ green room for the festival. There were 33 visiting authors this year.
And here are a few of them cooling down between sessions, l to r – Michael Pryor, Cath Crowley, Andy Griffiths, Dan Ducrou and Ben Chandler.
It’s great to meet so many keen readers, and everyone had wonderful questions after the sessions. And it’s lovely being able to spend time with fellow writers. YA and children’s writers are some of the most generous and friendly people you could possibly imagine.
This is Kirsty Eagar and Gab Williams and me in the middle.
And for something to run this SMOOTHLY, you just know an ENORMOUS amount of work has gone into the planning. So big thanks to Somerset staff and students and volunteers for making it such a wonderful experience!
Karen Mackie – programming mastermind!
melbourne writers festival/brisbane writers festival
Five sessions in three days. Kids’ stuff for the seasoned writers, but pretty intense for me – a complete festival newb – as a writer, anyway.
In Melbourne on Monday night there was a dinner hosted by Melina Marchetta for YA writers speaking at the festival – this is the most welcoming group of people you can imagine. And – bonus – the friendliness came with delicious dumplings.
On Tuesday morning I was a MWF ‘Virgin Voice’ – yes I was – in conversation with Ruby Murray whose contagious calmness and wonderful preparation made my first ever festival session lots of fun. Then I headed for Brisbane.
On Wednesday, Robyn Bavati and I had breakfast together, a very pleasant start to the day. In a superb open breezy space in the State Library called the Queensland Terrace I spoke to an enormous group of students and couldn’t believe the number of hands that went up when I asked if anyone had a question. And what fabulous questions!
Later in the day I had a session in the Online Festival program which provides access to the festival to students in remote areas. Again, wonderful questions, and enthusiastic students.
Squeezed in a quick visit to the Valentino exhibition. WOW.
E.C. Osondu First Night speaker was fabulous.
On Thursday in the GoMA Van Badham and I talked to a group of students about writing for performance in a session called ‘From Page to Stage to Screen’, chaired by Katherine Lyall-Watson. Van, who is hilarious, has worked mostly in theatre, mostly in London, and won many awards, and I’ve done heaps of scriptwriting for tv, so between us we cover a few bases. At the risk of seeming repetitive – another enthusiastic and engaged group of students…
(Looking forward to reading Van’s new book, ‘Burnt Snow’! And Robyn’s – ‘Dancing in the Dark’!)
In the afternoon I visited St Margaret’s and spoke to a group of year nine students – who – you guessed it – were obviously keen readers and had a raft of articulate and interesting questions to ask.
Because I’m slightly addicted to lists of six things here are some ‘Reasons I loved the Brisbane Writers Festival’.
1 Word Play, the schools program, ran like clockwork, thank you Molly Palmer, the calm centre of this creative whirl. And the ‘all heart’ graphic theme was so cool – see below.
2 Brisbane’s south bank cultural precinct on the river is beautiful.
3 The State Library of Queensland and the people who work there were great.
4 So was the Online Literature Festival – it was fantastic to be invited into remote classrooms for a chat.
5 I LOVED the way Brisbane students swarmed around the library – they OWN that place! They came to every session ready to listen and participate and enjoy. And so many of them came over for signing and chatting after sessions.
6 The students and teachers I met were without exception friendly and engaged, and Brisbane is obviously a city of mighty READERS!
I promised the students at my Wednesday session that I would post the recipe for muesli bars that Dan reluctantly helps make in ‘Six Impossible Things’, and I’ll be putting it up next week. I just need to photograph the steps when I make a batch!
Meanwhile, thank you to the students and teachers and librarians and booksellers and festival organisers and volunteers of Melbourne and Brisbane who made my first festival experiences so much fun.