This session was chaired by Adele Walsh (Persnickety Snark and the CYL) and featured a discussion with Melina Marchetta, Cassandra Clare and Markus Zusak. This was definitely one of my favourite panels and seemed to fly by (seriously, I easily could have listened to them speak for another hour!)
- Adele began with a quote from Spiderman (hellz yeah!) "with great success comes great expectation" and started off the question "do your protagonists have expectations of you as an author?". Cassandra said her characters are frightened of her (as she can kill them off at any moment haha), Markus said that his characters "owe [him] everything" and that they should be thanking him and Melina said she pretends she has control over them (though it's not always the case...)
- Adele then asked which was more challenging: expectations of the readers or your own expectations? Whilst Melina said she doesn't think of her audience at all, Markus works the opposite way with us being the first thing he thinks of and added this gem: "I try and look after you - until I get sick of you".
- Each author spoke a little about international reactions to their books and at author appearances. Cassandra had a really funny story about being at an event in Spain that was "like a football match" with loud fans and Melina spoke about the way the ownership of the book is different in each country (and had quite an amusing story about reading Saving Francesca to a group in the US and they all thought it was strange hearing Francesca "with an Aussie accent".
- All three writers talked about doing school visits and listed the worst question they've been asked at an event:
- Melina: "How much money do you make?". She also said a lot of boys used to be disapointed when she came on school visits as she wasn't the girl from the Alibrandi cover or Pia Miranda.
- Cassandra: "Can I have some of your blood?" (!!!)
- Markus: (by some smart-arse kid with toliet-brush hair) "Are you a bisexual?" (to which Markus responded with "why, you interested?
- Melina (in response to the question, does there need to be hope in YA?) said that she would never write a book without hope - awww.
- The topic of film rights and adaptations was then discussed. City of Bones is in pre-production, with a Jace casting announcement to be made (hopefully) within the next few weeks, as they are down to the final couple of guys. The film rights to The Book Thief have been optioned but Markus is not involved in any screenwriting or pre-production (and made an excellent point about the win/win decision of selling the rights - if the film is bad, people will say the book was better and if the film is good, they'll go on to read the book). Melina has written a screenplay for On The Jellicoe Road (with assistance of Aurora Workshop and Screen NSW) and will hopefully have some news next year (yay!!!).
- The session ended with their reading recommendations:
- Cassandra: Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness) and Tamar (Mal Peet)
- Melina: Yiddish Policeman's Union (Michael Chabon)
- Markus: What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Peter Hedges), Wake in Fright (Kenneth Cook)
Taboo Words: Kate Burridge is a linguistics professor at Monash University and presenter on Can We Help? I didn't take a lot of notes during this session, I mostly just listened and was really interesting in Kate talk about swearing and taboo words (a topic she is very passionate about!). For those interested, I did jot down:
- That in Australia, swearing is part of our culture (from our past as descendents of convicts and sailors) and that our history is a melting pot of vernaculars.
- There are four functions of swearing:
- Expletive (in frustration and anger)
- Abusive (to curse or insult)
- Social (as a form of solidarity)
- Friendly (as a "verbal cuddling")
- Kate spoke at length on the topic of taboo words, swearing trends and the way our attitude to swearing has changed over time. It's honestly something I hadn't thought a lot about before, but was very interesting (and funny).