Firstly a big thank you to Aleesah Darlison who was the Kids and YA Literature Festival director at the event I attended yesterday at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre. As always I took away many new ideas and lessons.
1) Children and YA authors all together in one place looks awfully similar to an episode of “Primary Teachers Gone Wild.”
2) I’m pretty sure if they had a cut and paste session we would have all been in. Just the vibe I got from my fellow writers from our reactions to the Keynote Speaker. Boori Monty Pryor deals with primary aged children all the time so has an animated and interactive style. He was having us hug ourselves, raise our hands and roll around on the ground with laughter (ROFLing as the hip cats call it). It was brilliant and everybody was involved. Hence if he’d decided to do the painting activities he does with his kids with us I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been the only one cleaning glitter out of every nook and cranny for the next month.
3) Famous writers are really, really, really, super nice. Pamela Freeman even greeted me with a hug. (Not to name drop shameless name drop ahead I have now received hugs from not only Pamela Freeman, but also Kate Forsyth, Jan Cornall and Walter Mason. Emily Maguire I’m coming for you next!)
4) Editors are really nice too! No really, they are. I know that sounds weird because we’re all fairly convinced that they’re all angry, old, hermits that live in caves, away from the light, snacking on bitter pills and drinking the blood of wannabe writers just so they can wee it into their chamber pots and toss it on the dying embers of our failed manuscripts… over share? But they are nice. Zoe Walton is always so kind and so organised at every festival I have seen her at and Nicola Robinson was nice enough to shake my hand and give me a warm smile. Not one editor asked us aspiring writers to line up and bend over so that they could kick us in the pants. I kid you not.
5) Once you’re a teacher you’re always a teacher. Jacqueline Harvey uses her whiteboard to plan stories. You have done us proud Ms Harvey and we salute you. Whiteboard Marker Pride!!!
6) I want to be Catherine Jinks’ BFF. Should she ever be in the market for one I’m ready. She was so funny and so enthusiastic and so real that I think everybody hung on every word she said.
7) Burritos are a bad idea when you’re wearing pale colours. I got sauced. Bring back the rice paper rolls I say. At least when I spilled them all over myself there was very little evidence. Sure I should learn to eat with some dignity but I’m 34 and still haven’t acquired that skill.
8) I’m weird! When my name didn’t get pulled out of the “hat” for the pitch contestant I was a tad despondent not relieved. Although thoroughly pleased that my brother’s best friend from year 8 the extraordinarily talented and beautiful Ms Alison Whipp, won the contest. Novacastrian pride. I admired her so much as a kid (she’s seven years older than me so seemed so sophisticated and full of grace) so it was lovely to get the chance to do so again.
Now I shall leave you with a few memorable quotes from the festival:
“I wanted to read about heroes and heroines that looked like me.” Wai Chim
“I didn’t want to feel ashamed of who I was.” Sarah Ayoub
“Eat the story, drink the story, paint the story, dance the story, write the story.” Boori Monty Pryor
“Film is very tightly structured, for me, novels are a much more philosophical pursuit.” Isobelle Carmody
“If you were good at selling yourself you wouldn’t be a God damn writer. You’d be an actor or something.” Catherine Jinks
“Writing in Hollywood is like writing with a committee.” Wendy Orr
“I believe in loyalty.” Jacqueline Harvey
“Write a cover letter that shows you believe in your story so that the publisher will too.” Rochelle Manners
“Write a ripper of a story.” Felicity Pullman
And now I’m spent.