Sydney Writer’s Festival 2015: Friday

From a rainy morning to a cool sunny day, today was another great festival day. With a three session day it was one of the best in my schedule with two sessions with John Marsden, and one with both Garth Nix and Kate Forsyth.

In the Age of Google, What’s the Point of Schools? was a session I was curious about, not just because John Marsden was going to be there, but also because it was a ridiculous question and I wanted to hear the discussion about it. Maxine McKew, John Marsden, and Jennifer Buckingham spoke with Rebecca Huntley about how Google does not replace the importance of school, and numerous valid and important points were made. It was great to see the three different points of view, Marsden, McKew, and Billingham all had different inputs and different backgrounds in the education sector so it was a fascinating discussion.

Another Era looked at how you choose, create, and populate historical novels, and John Marsden and Steve Carroll discussed their own novels with Amy Bloom. I enjoyed this discussion because not only am I amazed at the amount of research that goes into historical novels, it was interesting to hear about how technology has improved writing these novels, Marsden saying how eight months research could be condensed into three weeks instead. Carroll also made note that there is a trick to research and that is having the right amount, only needing to know what will help with the book and too much can kill a book before it starts.

The panel also discussed family links with their works, and how autobiographical elements can work their way unconsciously into a story. Avoiding patronising the past was a key issue, as well as trying not to romanticise it and respecting those in it that had to struggle with horrors in their lives.

From that great panel I went on to Myths, Fairytales, and the Need to Believe, and listening to discussions on how marvellous, versatile, and everlasting fairytales are is something I never grow tired of hearing. Kate Forsyth chatted with Danielle Wood, Garth Nix, and Wanda Wiltshire about whether fairytales are there as weapons to fight our cynicism, and why we have held onto fairytales for so long and why they have lasted through the centuries.

The panel discussed their own works, adding to my growing TBR pile though a few were already on it, and talked about a few of their fairytale favourites and which ones had been reworked and inspired from in their own work. The cynicism aspect was an interesting approach, Wiltshire noted that it’s not surprising we’re all cynical when the worst of the world is viewable at our fingertips, but she also said it is probably not consciously that this has happened, and there isn’t as much cynicism in the world as people like to think with random acts of kindness happening everywhere.

Sessions aside I also got a nice little stack of books signed. I had a brief but enjoyable chat with John Marsden, he even noted that the books I was getting signed he hadn’t seen in a long time (The Great Gatenby and Out of Time). I also got the first half of my Keys to the Kingdom books signed by Garth Nix, slightly less composed than I planned to be but it all worked out in the end. I even managed to sneak in a signing of Lost and Found by Brook Davis where we had a nice chat about book fairs and writer’s festivals.

All three of these sessions were highlights of my day, as well as getting to have brief chats with authors while I got books signed. I still did not get surveyed and remain stickerless, but with two days left to go I still have a chance. I just need to sit on the wharf, not looking busy, and maybe someone will sit down next to me and give me the sticker I desire!



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