Whitsunday Voices

Dear blog: will you ever forgive me for so neglecting you? I was off gallivanting (how often does one get to use that word?) with other writers and illustrators, lovers of literature and hordes of enthusiastic kids. And not just anywhere, but in the balmy, sub-tropical, north Queensland town of Mackay. Can you see now why it’s taken me a while to come back down to earth enough to blog?

This year’s Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival was easily the highlight of my writerly times to date. Everyone involved was energetic and engaging, from the organisers and school staff to the 5000 students who attended over the two days. The event was buzzing with story in all its forms: books, art, poetry, movement and music. I had a number of student minders allocated to me over the festival, and I hope they know how much I appreciated their smiles and conversation (even amongst the stress of making sure I got to each room on time – thanks girls). I got to meet some incredibly creative youngsters in my illustration workshops, where we made our own textured papers and created different interpretations of an Australian bush scape. The book talks were also great fun, where we got a bit silly in creating some monster characters. In one session we designed a monster based on a giraffe, and below you can see some of the results (I particularly like the spacey monster).

Writers get the reputation of being a bit reclusive, but this certainly isn’t the case when you get them all together. The other writers and illustrators involved were not only incredibly talented and inspiring to be around, but also genuinely lovely people. Gus Gordon is a hoot, and I had kids quoting his jokes at me in the playground (Gus, I might have stolen a few for my own use). PDMartin was my festival sister, and in her sessions shared some fascinating stories of the research that goes into her crime novels. Ruben Meerman (aka The Surfing Scientist) was just as energetic and entertaining as he is on TV. Ghostboy was the beating heart of the festival, leaving a trail of poetry and mischief in his wake. There were so many other incredible creators and I feel really lucky that I got to spend an intense couple of days with them all. I know I’ve come away from it with some good friends and kindred spirits.

Probably the best group photo, although unfortunately I'm not in it. From left to right: Michael Wagner, Ghostboy (David Stavanger), Tristan Bancks, Gus Gordon, PDMartin, Deb Abela, John Danalis, Ruben Meerman and James Roy

Gus, me and Deb in the hotel lounge before the big dinner

The festival finished off with the big literary dinner, decorated (as described by Ghostboy I believe) like a Tim Burton style prom night. There was much talking. Much drinking. And it almost goes without saying: much dancing. There might be photo evidence of the latter, but for the sake of all involved they wont be going up on this blog. I have been accused of dancing on tables in the past (Michael Gerard Bauer, I’m looking at you) but I will just say this – there was certainly some tabletop dancing, but not by me.

So much goes into these events and yet they always seem to pass in the blink of an eye. And with all that it’s over for another year. I’m home again, trying to adjust to the cold and rainy Adelaide winter and get back into my writing / illustrating projects. It’s not going to be easy, but thoughts of other festivals to come will keep me going…


9 Responses to “Whitsunday Voices”

  1. 1 Sheryl Gwyther July 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, Kath! YOu had a brilliant time by the sound of it. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching you make collages and textures surfaces with the kids. Yummmmmy!
    Me envious :( Just kidding, I’m happy for you! :)

  2. 2 chrisbongers July 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Kath, I hear it was the best Whitsunday Voices evah! So many wonderful talented writers and illustrators and bet they just loved you! BTW, Gus Gordon, who is widely regarded as ‘adorable’ by everyone who meets him, has the best taste in shirts. How good is that photo??!!

  3. 3 Katherine Battersby July 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Sheryl, you should have seen us by the end of it – absolutely covered in oil pastels! I believe I even had a fetching pastel moustache at one point…

    Chris it was quite incredible. I still feel stunned I got to be involved in such a festival. And adorable is the perfect word for Gus. He is a stylish chappie too – was that his infamous protozoa shirt? :)

  4. 4 Karen Tyrrell July 28, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Hi Katherine,
    My Goodness you’ve had a busy few weeks in the Whitsundays and in Brisbane. Glad you were able to catch your breath and share your writing news and adventures with us…Karen :))

  5. 5 Renee Taprell July 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hi Katherine,
    Looks like you had a fabulous time at the Whitsunday’s Literature Festival. What an awesome event!!!I’m sure that the young writer and illustrators would have got a tremendous out of it not to mention the speakers.



  6. 6 Katherine Battersby July 28, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks Karen. It’s taken me a long while to settle back into my day to day life, which is comparatively very quiet and solitary. But really looking forward to writing and drawing again – my head is full of stories.

    Thanks for popping by Renee – lovely to meet you at the Gold Coast writer’s event.

  7. 7 deescribewriting July 29, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Looks like you had an amazing time, Kath,

    I’m sure everyone loved you and your incredible talent. No wonder you’ve had trouble settling down again. Must have been so inspiring:-)

    Can’t wait to see the stories and pictures that come out of it.


  8. 8 Angela Sunde July 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Hi Kath,

    I loved the photos and you sound like you had a great time. I can only imagine how much fun it must’ve been.

    I love Gus’s shirt too. A Gold Coast designer makes ones just like it, if anyone is interested.

    Angela :)

  9. 9 Katrina Germein August 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Oh I wish I was there! Sounds super fun.

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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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