melbourne writers festival/brisbane writers festival

September 4th, 2010 | Category: festivals

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.

7 responses to “melbourne writers festival/brisbane writers festival”

  1. Libby Saxby says:

    Hi Fiona
    I attended your Wednesday session at wordplay in Brisbane, with 4 of my students from Bundaberg North State High School, and my daughter. My team of 4 boys had come down for the CBCA Readers’ Cup State Final the previous evening. It was a great experience for them. Molly organised the tickets for us to attend the Wordplay sessions. I wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your presentation. Maybe I will have a go at a book myself one of these days! I have always thought of my own writing as too impersonal, but maybe I will give it a try.The boys, and my daughter, Anna, loved your presentation too. I particularly wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with Zac from our school, at your signing. We approached you at the end of your session, and you asked that we come and see you downstairs as you had to pack up. It was a real thrill for Zac, as he loves to write. I think he wanted to ask you about writers’ block, or finding the next idea to write about. All of our experiences at both the Readers’ Cup and the author sessions made the logistics of getting to Brisbane so worthwhile. Our students don’t gat many opportunities like these! All the best. I bought your book for our library, and I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks again! Libby Saxby

    • fiona says:

      Hi Libby, thank you so much for dropping in on the blog, and for your kind comments. You will have read already how much I enjoyed coming up to Brisbane. I’m a big fan. I could tell from speaking to Zac that he is a keen and thoughtful writer, even though we only had a quick chat. I will do a post next week about ways to keep the ideas flowing so he has a few more strategies up his sleeve! I’m planning today to cook and photograph a batch of muesli bars so I can post Dan’s recipe, which I promised your session I would do. I’m so glad you made the trip to the Readers’ cup and to the festival, and hope there are many more to come! Also hope that as I am a late starter, you might take some encouragement from my story, and have a go at writing that novel. Nothing helps writing more than writing!

  2. DoctorDi says:

    That sounds so rewarding, Fiona – well done you! And what lovely feedback to receive from Libby – you must be chuffed, if a little exhausted…

  3. Amra Pajalic says:

    What a jam packed schedule. Sounds like you had a great time. So bummed I had to miss the YA dinner. I’m still breastfeeding my daughter and night time events are pretty much out. Maybe I’ll wean her by next year (she’s 20 months and I have a fear she’ll keep going until she’s in primary school).

    • fiona says:

      It’s a shame you couldn’t get to the dinner – I remember the breast-feeding era clearly! The festivals were such fun, fantastic to meet so many readers, and thank you for the article you wrote last year for Victorian Writer about preparing for speaking about your book – it was very helpful!

  4. Cath Crowley says:

    Hey Fiona,
    What an amazing photograph of the city.
    And it sounds like your Brisbane and Melbourne sessions were fantastic.

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