Double sunshiney day…

Today I trained it down to Frankston for the YABBA (Young Australian Best Book Awards) announcements. There were students from about ten schools there (I think) in the Frankston Art Centre and about 16 or so authors and illustrators. Also teachers, publishers and the wonderful group of people who administer the awards.

We authors and illustrators were asked to prepare a little (90 seconds we found out as we spoke!) piece on our first publication. It was fascinating to hear the variety of responses and indeed interpretations of the request.

Awards were presented to the winners of the inaugural Write On! writing competition and then the YABBA’s were presented.

After morning tea, we all reconvened in the vibrant Frankston Library for book signings. Great fun.

Well done YABBA committee. Well done YABBA voters. Congratulations YABBA winners. Go here for details.

And in late breaking news…well late to me as I didn’t get home until late…

The Australian government has voted…Parallel Importation Restrictions are to be retained…Australian copyright holders will continue to be protected. For more info on this wonderful news go here

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.

Penguins and things

We went to the Melboune Aquarium on Sunday to see the new penguin exhibition. They have two species of penguin, the Gentoo and the King. Both seemed quite at home in the new exhibit where there was both snow and water. The thing that surprised me most was the shape of their feet/toes, much plumper than I’d imagined. They looked like fat fingers in black latex webbed gloves. Amazing to watch their antics both in water and on land.

Of course we visited all the other exhibits as well. One thing that struck me was the faces. I could see where designers of fantasy movies get inspiration for their characters. There are some seriously odd looking creatures in the underwater world.

My book, Ebi’s Boat was in the bookshop. An unexpected but pleasant surprise. Not so pleasant the reaction to my offer to sign the copies. Sigh.

We caught a bus to the base of the new Southern Star ferris wheel thingo. Up close, it is quite tall! And it never stops moving, not for getting on or off. They do slow it down a bit more for those who need it, but mostly people entered the moving capsule easily enough. We will take a ride one day, but didn’t on Sunday.

The waterfront was abuzz. There was a market and childrens activities and these sand sculptures. Amazing detail.

And how is any of this related to writing for children? Who knows? I wouldn’t begin to try to predict what may or may not inform future projects. But I do know that writers never clock off.

Sydney SCBWI conference

I spent the past weekend in Sydney at the Hughenden Hotel for the 2nd SCBWI Conference. Organised by Susanne Gervay and Chris Cheng, this conference for writers and illustrators was a blast! It featured appraisals, publishers, editors, case studies, fine food and wine, trend-spotting, trend-setting, 2 min pitches, new voices, experienced voices, sunshine and laughter.

The program was designed to facilitate plenty of chat time. It also allowed delegates to absorb the content of each presentation without feeling like heads might explode. I met several people I’d previously only ‘known’ via email. It’s always good to match the faces with the names. Interesting too, who is like their on-line self, and who surprises.

What is the best thing about a conference? The chance to be with people who share your passion, to learn how to improve your craft, to take a break from the solitude that is so necessary for creating, to see new books. They reinvigorate, re-enthuse, recharge and totally exhaust you. They are fantastic.