Reading Matters

I’m just now surfacing after a fantastic weekend at Reading Matters Conference. This conference is held every second year and is an initiative of Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Literature. The focus is works for young adults, which includes everything from Libby Gleeson/Armin Greder picture books to crossover novels that could equally be read by young adults and …well…all other adults.

I didn’t take many notes as I was too busy listening but here are a few of the bits that spoke to me…

John Green, author of Paper Towns talked about being an individual around whom the world spins. He said that perspective sometimes changes as we age…but sometimes not. He reported being sure that everyone around him was alien and sneaking out after bedtime to catch his parents out of ‘human costume’ but they were always too fast.

Teenagers like to read about themselves, AND about ‘other’. He also said he often knew his characters much better than he knew even close friends.

Alison Goodman (The Two Pearls of Wisdom) and Isabelle Carmody (The Stone Key) shared a conversation about their writing processes and more.
Isabelle reads non fantasy as inspiration…more for style than content. For her landscape comes from character emotion…bog might indicate depression, a mountain might indicate character is feeling better. For Alison, landscape was setting. Isabelle takes no notes but continues to ‘gather’ ideas until she has enough to begin writing. Alison reported being much more of a planner.

Reimagining History was the title of a session with MT Anderson (The Astonishing LIfe of Octavian Nothing), Bernard Beckett (Genesis) and Michelle Cooper (A Brief History of Montmaray).

MT Anderson talked about novels being ‘alienation from what you know so you can reapproach what you know’

and all talked about their wish to explore the strangeness of the time they wrote about. Each would be keen to visit the worlds about which they wrote…provided they could first be vaccinated!

Several writers read from their novels including Adrian Stirling (Broken Glass), Tristan Banks (Mac Slater: Cool Hunter), Cathy Cassidy (Angel Cake), Mo Johnson (Boofheads.

Libby Gleeson and Armin Greder discussed their collaboration through six books so far.

Other speakers included Anthony Eaton, Mal Peet, James Roy, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Amra Pajalic and (a jet-lagged but you wouldn’t have known it)Tim Flannery.

Add in fantastic food, plenty of opportunities to mix with librarians, teachers, publishers, editors and fellow creators and you have the recipe for an exhilarating but exhausting weekend.

I have still to go through my collection of contacts and cards (and yes, even one set of details on a cocktail napkin) but that will all wait for a day or two.

Tomorrow I’m off to Melbourne’s south east to do some workshops with Year 9’s. Really looking forward to it to.

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