On Saturday I was in Sydney for the 5th NSW Writers Centre Kids & YA Literature Festival. I went to the same festival last year and it was abolutely brilliant (it's a smaller festival, but it was still very inspiring and informative, and all the panels were fabulous) and this year it was the same. I got to meet many lovely authors and took some photos! So if you missed out you can imagine you were there.
The panels I didn't photograph were How Publishers and Authors Create Stories for the World with Lisa Berryman (HarperCollins publisher), Michelle Cooper (author of A Brief History of Montmoray), Moya Simons (author of lots of books, including Let Me Whisper You My Story), Zoe Walton (Random House publisher) and chaired by Angie Schiavone. Also, Taking Stories Into New Places: Plays Across Australia, chaired by David Ryding, with Wendy Blaxland and Tim McGarry.
It really was a fantastic festival, and if you're in Sydney next year around this time you should go along - I think the fact that it is a smaller festival allows for it to be a bit more informal and intimate but not at all intimidating. After I left I just felt so inspired and felt really great about the industry and writers (published and unpublished) and being a writer and knowing that even though writing is such a solitary thing, there's still this huge sense of community. And I apologise for the run-on sentence but really, I can't express it another way.
Gabrielle Lord and Susanne Gervay following Gabrielle's brilliant keynote address (she spoke about her YA series Conspiracy 365 - 12 books released one a month for the entirety of 2010, following one story. At first she was only given a month by her publisher to write each 35,000 word book! (I might be wrong, but I think it ended up she had four months per book? I was amazed.)
Sue Whiting speaking about Sue Walker's Arnie Avery.
Sue Walker and Susanne Gervay launching Arnie Avery.
Throwing paper planes (apparently there's a significant scene in Arnie Avery where he throws a paper plane, so everybody got one to throw. I'm really curious to read the book now!)
Deborah Abela at the panel Fantasy Books: The World Loves Them, talking about her novels (including the soon-to-be-released Grimsdon).
Kate Forsyth, Belinda Murrell, Judith Ridge (who I finally met after knowing on Twitter for ages) who chaired the panel and Deb Abela. Deb Abela kept insisting she didn't write fantasy, not really, and Kate Forsyth told everyone the real definition of fantasy and that Deb Abela certainly did write it.
Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell.
The panel How the NSWWC (New South Wales Writers Centre) and Editors Get Books Published: from left to right Brian Cook (literary agent), Susanne Gervay (author of lots of great books, including the upcoming Always Jack), Wendy Fitzgerald (author of Bollywood Dreaming), Oliver Phommavanh (author of Thai-Riffic!), and Susan Hayes (Australia Council Director of Literature) chairing the panel.
Pitch an Idea that Captures a Publisher (three minute pitches of story ideas with feedback from an expert panel): Brian Cook, William Kostakis (chair), Sue Whiting and Zoe Walton. And in the second pic standing on the left is Jodie (I think I remember her surname, but I'm worried I might be wrong, so I'll just leave it at Jodie) who was the winner! She read a picture book text, a Halloween version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, which was fabulous, and got lots of publisher interest!
What I really loved about the pitch session at the end of the day was how diverse all the pitches were - I know that a lot of people say there's no original thought anymore and everything has been said and done, but each of the pitches were so unique, so different and it reminded me of how creative and how individual writers are. I know it might seem all sparkly vampires or werewolves or whatever it is at the moment right now, but it's not because writers aren't writing unique novels. At least I don't think so.
Massive thanks to Susanne Gervay for inviting me, introducing me to everyone and being generally wonderful, and everyone else who I spoke to (and who told me they were looking forward to my book! You're awesome) for being fabulous.