Posts Tagged 'Peter Carnavas'

Literary Festival Season

We have just entered literary festival season. Writers, usually quiet pyjama encrusted and tea toting creatures, suddenly start popping up all over the place. Books begin to grow on trees. Festivals bloom in cities like pubs (ie. one on every corner). It’s an exciting time of year.

So far I’m having a ball – I’ve met so many wonderful writers, teachers, librarians and little reading rabbits. These festivals are put together by an amazing group of people who love books and the kids who attend are wonderfully enthusiastic. On the flip side, sleep is suddenly hard to find and I’m living out of a suitcase, but that’s kind of an adventure in itself.

If you want to catch me over the next few months, I’ll be doing talks and workshops and readings at the following places:

  • Aug 8th: Voices on the Range, Toowoomba based youth literary festival
  • Aug 20th-24th: Book Week, at various school around Brisbane and Toowoomba
  • Sept 5th-9th: Brisbane Writers Festival, both WordPlay and the adult program
  • Sept 11th-13th: Write Around Qld, an amazing program organised by the BWF that tours children’s authors around regional Qld
  • Sept 14th-16th: Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, kid’s and adult program
  • Sept 29th: Brisbane launch of Brave Squish Rabbit, at Black Cat Books
  • Oct (date TBC): Melbourne launch of Brave Squish Rabbit
  • Oct 28th: Making Picture Books Workshop (for adults) through the QWC
  • Dec 27th-31st: Woodford Folk Festival, kid’s program

Here’s a photo diary of the festivals and such that I’ve been involved in this year that have already slipped by:

May: Darwin Writers Festival (WordStorm) where I did a number of school visits and adult writing workshops and didn’t get eaten by crocodiles

June: Out of the Box Festival, which celebrates children’s books in big circus tents by the Brisbane river

July: CYA Conference, for adult writers of children’s and YA lit. I’m posing with the delightful Penny Whitehouse in front of Craig Smith’s playful illo

July: Setting up for the Brisbane Square Library ‘Journey of a Book’ Exhibition

July: Squish Rabbit glass cabinet display at the Brisbane Square Library

July: Whitsunday Voices, Mackay youth literature festival. Dave Hackett did awesome caricatures for all the presenters (which were very accurate – I think he had secret intelligence on us all…)

July: Whitsunday Voices – life sized bird-monster I drew with the help of some creative kids in an illustration workshop

July: David and I with Peter Carnavas at the launch of his latest picture book, the delightful ‘The Children Who Loved Books’

But I wont be able to convince you it’s all just work. Here’s some evidence that relaxing happened too…

Beach and sunset in Darwin. There may also have been wine…

Post festival breakfast on my parent’s back deck in Mackay

CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Ever since I was a little girl I was aware of the round stickers that occasionally popped up on Australian book covers. I didn’t know what they said or exactly what they meant, but I knew one thing: whether the sticker was silver, bronze or blue, the book was going to be good. As I got taller and older I learnt about the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the organisation behind the stickers, and that each year they ran awards to select the best Australian children’s books published.

Over a lifetime these stickers have informed much of my reading. As a wee one I was much more likely to pick up a book if it had one on the cover. As a teenager so many of the books I treasured were awarded (Gary Crew’s Angel’s Gate, Isobelle Carmody’s The Gathering and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi). As an aspiring author / illustrator, my reading list came directly from the award notable list (although I had often read most of them already). Then, as I became part of the writing community, each year I’d barrack for my friend’s book and my favourite picks.

This year the awards meant something different. I had my first children’s book ‘out there’. I was determined not to think about the awards, but a friend mentioned when the short-lists were announced and I suddenly found myself thinking (and stressing) about them a whole lot. It was kind of awful. Steven Herrick wrote a beautifully humble and honest post about how writers try to pretend that awards don’t matter – that we don’t mind whether we’re selected or not. I even tried to trick myself into thinking this, with lots of very sensible self-talk about the fact that it was only ‘my first book’ and that ‘so many amazing books are published each year’ blah blah etc, but it didn’t really work. I still harboured a deep secret hope.

Tuesday was the fateful day, and after all that stressing I still feel incredibly humbled and overawed with the news. Squish Rabbit was selected as part of the short-list for the 2012 Crichton Award, which aims to encourage new talent in the field of children’s illustration. It was also selected as a Notable Book in the Early Childhood Category of the Book of the Year Awards, which I’m thrilled about.

The Australian writing community is such a supportive one, and there was an outpouring of lovely congratulations and kind words – thank you. So many amazing books made this year’s lists, including those by some of my favourite people: Michael Gerard Bauer, Lucia Masciullo, Peter Carnavas, James Foley, Prue Mason, Sally Rippin and Wendy Orr. So proud to count these incredible writers and illustrators as friends.

The day’s celebrations included champagne, party poppers, a movie, a decadent Thai feast and a little pack of fun:

  • The Shin’s latest album: Their music makes me happy (and is part of the soundtrack for my latest novel)
  • Obi-Wan: A funny gift from my poet to remind me that Jedi like patience can bring rewards (for Star Wars nerds that would like to inform me that this is not actually Obi-Wan, I say to you that I had already named him thusly when I discovered this, and besides I like this name better)
  • My Neighbour Totoro: Possibly one of Miyazaki’s greatest films, which is quietly magical and so full of beauty, and one I have been meaning to get forever

Writers Party Too

So. Writing Festival season. Never have I been kept out so many long days and late nights in a row. Not even at uni (and that’s saying something). Yes – writers can indeed party too. So where did the whole shenanigan start? Let me tell you, my friend…

Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature

Apart from the dramatic start to the Saturday (Jenny – our hearts go out to you) the weekend event was perfect. The setting was stunning (think heritage winery in the rolling hills), the talks were intimate and the speakers were enthusiastic. Anna Ciddor and Simon Higgins shared insights into researching historical fiction, Justin D’Ath and Brian Falkner gave tips for writing compelling action / adventures, Boori Pryor and Jan Ormerod shared the story of their unique collaboration on a picture book, then Boori joined Belinda Jeffrey and Michelle Witheyman-Crump to discuss their experience of race and culture in their lives and books. A highlight for me was the demanding role of playing a tree during one of Boori’s performances. I had feedback that I did an inspired job – I always knew I was destined for great things.

2009-09-15a

Me, Belinda Jeffrey, Sheryl Gwyther and Julie Nickerson

Queensland Writer’s Centre Cocktail Party

This event was to launch a new initiative by the QWC called Industry IQ. I’m constantly in awe of just how hard the QWC staff work and how much they put back into their writers. I will always remember them as the people who nurtured me into the writer I am today. Anyway, sentimentalities aside, it was also a rocking evening. Wined and dined on the rooftop deck of the Gallery of Modern Art, I got to meet many writers I admire and friends I had yet to meet face to face. My lovely agent was also there, as well as a number of other publishing professionals and high profile presenters from the festival itself. Afterwards a number of us kicked on to a modern restaurant in South Bank, where I sat and chatted with the lovely Kate Eltham (QWC CEO) and had a few quiet drinks with JJ Cooper (thriller writer and all round nice guy).

2009-09-15b

Karen Tyrrell, Ally Howard and I

Brisbane Writer’s Festival

Perfect sunny weather and an ideal location (the state library by the river at South Bank) boded well for this year’s festival. There were too many incredible children’s authors and illustrators talking at the festival to name, however some of them were Michael Bauer, Belinda Jeffrey, Tristan Banks, Richard Newsome, Sherryl Clark and James Moloney. Like many years, while I made it to a number of talks and panel discussions, some of my favourite times were running into other writers and sitting and chatting our way through the day.

Children and Young Adult Writer’s and Illustrator’s Conference

Or, for those who don’t like tongue tiers, the CYA conference. This yearly event is run by the energetic duo Tina Clark and Ally Howard, and for me is always a bit like a reunion (it’s attended by most of my nation wide network of writerly friends). Some favourite presentations at this year’s conference were Jackie French’s passionate opening speech, Meredith Costain’s talk on crafting picture books, and meeting the delightful Peter Carnavas, whose workshop on writing and illustrating picture books was the perfect end to the day. Afterwards a large group of us went out to dinner and had a few celebratory drinks, toasting to all those involved behind the scenes.

2009-09-15c

Too many people to name. Feel free to play 'guess the author'

So: 5 days of writing festival, 50 hours of writerly networking, 15 hours of writerly socialising and 0 hours of writing. I love irony. Now back to that novel redraft…


About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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