I’m back from the Sunny Brisbane Writers Festival where I was lucky enough to see some Booked Outers (and soon-to-be Booked Outers) in their native habitat.
Day 1: A day of tall tales began with a session with Martin Chatterton, who taught me that when it comes to stories, tone and confidence are key! My word hunt then led me to a session with Nick Earls (or Nick Management Consultant – to see what I’m talking about head here) Nick discussed the etymology of surnames with the illustrator of his upcoming book. Finally into a session with the wonderful Ben Law who had the audience laughing, cringing (at threatened nudity) and ‘oh yeah-ing’ in equal measures. It was a session on non-fiction writing, and while it may have been aimed at 12-15 year olds, my roving reporter skills have clearly benefited from his wisdom.
Day 2: The sun was shining (while in Melbourne grey clouds abounded) so I took advantage of the opportunity to leave my cardigan at home! In hindsight, this could well have been a mistake as the charming Chris Turney took myself and 200 grade 4/5 students on a sub-zero trip to Antarctica. We lost a few men, had to eat our dogs and…well, I won’t give it all away. At the end of the session, the number of questions from the audience was astounding. The poor person with the microphone was darting back and forth – probably good for his circulation in the cold!
Then onto more amplified theatrics with Ghost Boy and his colourful umbrella! I’m sure the teacups that lined the terrace were close to cracking with vibrations from the crowds shrieks and roars. Together we made some lively poems, with a surprising amount of roast ‘sexy’ chickens. This roving reporter wanted a photo op, but the superstar was too mobbed by his crowd of adoring fans.
Day 3: David’s partner Katherine, of ‘Squish Rabbit’ fame began my third and final day at the festival. In her session ‘How to Write a Rabbit’ I (along with an enthusiastic group of kids) was treated to a lovely session on how small things can say an awful lot. For example, while a carrot-eating rabbit is probably a very traditional type of rabbit, a burger-eating rabbit (although hopefully not the bunny kind!) is probably a bit crazier. The drawings inspired by this talk were incredibly good, and I heard one little girl exclaim ‘I didn’t know I could draw!’.
My festival experience ended with Pat Flynn and Peter Carnavas, who talked about their new book ‘My Totally Awesome Story’. The competitive banter about who’s better – authors or illustrators – had the audience in stitches. Everyone learned how to draw the characters and to imagine how the main character Duane might react if approached by a shark – by biting him of course! I was sad to leave the festival, but when I heard a voice beside me say “That was my favourite session of the festival, I love Pat Flynn”, I thought instead that it was the perfect moment for this roving reporter to head home to Booked Out HQ.