Monday, 10 September 2012

To the desk, to the desk as BWF closes

It's back to the real world now that the Brisbane Writers' Festival is over for another year. I never did run into that lady from West End who I seemed to see every year in the Queensland Terrace on a Friday morning. I hope she's still out there somewhere enjoying good books.
For anyone who has ever considered volunteering at the festival - do it! I have had the best, most stimulating, wonderful five days.

But now that's it's over, I have work to do. I hope I can find the time and discipline needed to get my thoughts into stories - good and worthy ones. And I hope this year brings more publication and writing rewards.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Brisbane Writers' Festival Starts with a Bang

At last! The Brisbane Writers' Festival has begun with some good news for Brisbane barrister and writer, Simon Cleary, who last night won the People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year with his novel Closer to Stone. You may remember Simon as the author of The Comfort of Figs set around Brisbane and the Story Bridge.
I was lucky to take part in a BWF workshop conducted by Simon today: 'Weaving Fact Into Fiction'. Simon is a lovely guy who imparted encouragement and words of wisdom including where and how to research, realising when you've done enough research and finding ways to weave it all into fiction. Nice to know, in this age of information at our fingertips (hooray for google, wiki and trove), it's often better to talk to people about their experiences to get the emotion and idiom in eye witness accounts. Could be a bit tricky with my research into Melbourne in the 1840s, but still. Glad I did my homework - researching the history of Brisbane City Hall - as I may continue a story I started today on the haunted clock tower lift. I also met some lovely people in the workshop who, going by their stories today, have big futures as writers.

On Thursday afternoon, I collected Australian of the Year and Nobel Prize Winner, Peter Doherty and his wife Penny from the airport and listened to Peter's fascinating talk on Sentinal Chickens at UQ which was a real treat for me.

Other highlights from the festival on Friday were listening to Patrick Gale, Richard Fidler in conversation with Gina Perry who has written about the infamous Milgram shock machine experiments of the 1960s, meeting Chris Cleve and Jeet Thayil and then Poetry in the Red Chamber, Parliament House, with Jeet, Jan Wagner, Chantal Spitz, a.rawlings, Ouyang Yu, Nicholas Powell and Les Murray.

On Saturday, I met a wonderful lady, Peggy, who at the age of 93 has just won her first poetry prize. An inspiration! Is listened to Robert Dessaix interview his dear friend Drusilla Modjeska (I've been a fan of Drusilla's since reading The Orchard at uni), contemplated What Makes Us Happy with Kathleen Noonan, Peter Lantos, Bev Aisbett, Tanveer Ahmed and Mind Gardener Martina Sheehan. I was fortunate to be venue manager for a talk by young adult fantasy writer Kate Forsyth, and then got a behind the scenes peek at the design behind Gary Crew and Ross Watkins' book The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree (can't wait to read that one to the kids).

Even though I "worked" as a volunteer for four days at the Brisbane Writers' Festival, I think I'm way ahead in terms of value. On Sunday, I was the venue manager at an industry masterclass presented by Australian Writers' Marketplace and gained invaluable tips on how to get an agent and/or publisher - basically for free!