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.