Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Gibbs Fellowship - Four Sleeps to Go

May Gibbs was English, but emigrated to Australia at the age of four, so I consider her Australian, through and through. I read the Gumnut Babies as a child. It was the illustrations that left a lasting impression, though also a sense that I was hearing an Australian voice in a mostly English-US market at the time.

In four sleeps I shall be taking up a Fellowship for the month of May in Adelaide. It is with some trepidation that I am setting out on that 10 hour car journey. And it isn't the car trip that's weighing on my mind. It is the terrain of What Ifs which sees me approach this journey cautiously.

Still, writing stories is all about the What Ifs.

So bring it on...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Sunday at the Farm

It's been a tradition for many years to spend Easter at the family farm and this year was no exception. Many of us tent it, but there's no point doing without luxury. Time is spent in comfort around a roaring fire each night unless it's raining. This is the morning after a huge bonfire — there's still a flame but the mist in the background is an indication of how cold it can get. If you look really closely in the distance you can see the disappearing tail of the Easter Bunny after depositing a stash of Easter eggs. That's what 5 year old Brady told me, anyway...

What we were reading this Easter - The Seeds of Time, Six, Across the Universe, Country Style Mag, The Age, Winky Wonky Donkey, Peepo

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hippitty Hop...the Easter Bunny's coming

When I was young my sister and I would leave out a carrot for the Easter Bunny on Saturday night and every Easter Sunday morning we'd wake to find the carrot gnawed down to a nub.

One year, after some late night grown-up celebrations, I woke to hear my mother giggling up the end of the hallway and my father shushing her to be quiet. And then an unexplained hiss and meow — our cat Sooty. These were strange happenings but I was only half-awake and it was easier to fall back to sleep than wonder what was going on. My sister and I woke up the next morning to find bunny footprints in talcum powder leading from the front door to our bedroom but I'd forgotten about the late night interruption and we found Easter Eggs in our back garden as usual. As usual my sister ate hers straight away and as usual I eked mine out over a longer period.

Years later my mother admitted to dipping the cat's hind paws in talcum powder and bouncing her up the hallway to create the prints. I am still secure in the knowledge that the Easter Bunny came that night, though, for the carrot was gnawed down as usual in the morning and I know, for a fact, that Sooty had an aversion to vegetables.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

Just watched Sunrise segment which stated that happiness boils down to following facts:
50% genetically disposed
40% how you spend your day
10% - oops can't remember

I've often wondered why it is that some people can survive incredible hardship and still smile at the other end while others don't. Just finished reading David Metzenthen's Jarvis 24, published in 2009, which is an enjoyable story about a boy with positive happiness genes. Although he has experienced the loss of a friend, this is a story of him moving on. There's not a lot of teen angst here, but a real insight into a 16 year old boy getting on with life. The voice is incredibly strong — I was sad to leave the character at the end of the book.

Recommend for boys. Recommend for girls who want an insight into what teen boys really think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

All Saints Lit Festival - 2011

We arrived back in Melbourne this morning from an extended All Saints Lit Fest 2011 stay. From balmy Perth to chilly 6 degrees Melbourne where we could play 'what animal is this' with our breath puffs in the cold 5am air. All Saints Lit Fest is like an oasis in the sandy dunes of an author's life. It's not just the kids - who are fantastic and engaged and fun - or the incredibly beautiful grounds and facilities or the warmth of Kris Williams and staff - but it's hanging around with other people who think that writing for children is a perfectly normal way to spend your time.

Thanks to the volunteer students who helped us get to where we were supposed to be, to the Green Room volunteers who kept the goodies coming and the Green Room cleaned as if by magic, and the drivers who picked up and dropped off and made getting around worry free.

Marcus Zusack officially launched the Lit Fest in a very laid back and warm style, which set the tone for the rest of the Fest. Saw plenty of The Book Thief books being sold at the Fest Book Shop.

I suspect that Fest guru, Kris Williams, cloned herself for the festival period as she seemed to be everywhere at the same time. Here she is with her gorgeous daughter who pitched in to help ensure things ran smoothly.

Left to right: Meg McKinlay, Susanne Gervay and Kate McCaffrey offer some words of wisdom, but I've decided not to change the title to Seven.

Book signing time - Mark Carthew, Julia Lawrinson (Captain of winning Debate team FOR books) and Shirley Marr - adoring fans are out of shot.

Felice Arena knocks back some Friday Pizza in the Green Room, but who is he reading about? Is that Shirley Marr on the cover of Today?

And to top it all off, our hosts Margie, Tim and Alfie made us very welcome and we miss them already. Thanks a lot you awesome trio!

Monday, April 4, 2011

All Saints Festival - one sleep to go

Somehow the All Saints Storylines Festival is upon us and I'm not sure how that happened. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone at the festival - sounds like Perth is having a heat wave so that should be a shock to the system after Melbourne's non-summer.

A congrats here to authors Carole Wilkinson for Sugar Sugar's appearance in the 2011 White Ravens and Ananda Braxton-Smith for her shortlisting in the Arealias Awards for her book Merrow. Both great reads - both worth catching up with if you haven't already.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What if?

A big component of writing fiction is the 'what if?'
I was driving home in peak hour traffic the other day, when the cars seemed to slow down to a crawl. I could see cars turning left or right into other lanes, as if a car had broken down up ahead. As I got closer I could see the problem. A man, with crazy long gray hair, with clothes that hung loose and dirty from his body, staggering down the middle of the road, flipping drivers the bird. He seemed a little angry.
We all drove carefully around him and I went on my way, but that writer's voice started up it's usual routine.
What was he doing there?
How did he get there?
And from there to the what if game.
What if he was a secret agent, just escaped from his captors, still staggering from their interrogation drugs?
What if he was being chased by someone and the safest place to be was in the middle of peak hour traffic?
What if it was an experiment to see what the drivers would do?
What if it was part of a movie shot in real life?
What if he had just been deposited back to Earth after being kidnapped by aliens?

What if??