By Sunday, I have to admit I was feeling a bit festival-ed out. Even so, I got up bright and early to meet Megan in the city, to hit up Day 2 of the Emerging Writers Festival weekend conference (you can read about Day 1 here). Whilst Megan started off the morning with Working Through It (a panel on the writing process), I decided to listen to Andrew McDonald (author of The Greatest Blogger in the World) and Karen Andrews (author of Surprise and blogger at Miscellaneous Mum) talk about Children's Books.
It was a rather cosy session, with only a dozen people in attendance (I'm guessing 10am on a Sunday was a tad early for most folks), but it was very enjoyable.
- Both Karen and Andrew shared some of their favourite childrens' books. Karen chose the Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle), The Monster at the End of This Book (Jon Stone) and We Like Kindergarten (Eloise Wilkin). Andrew bought in The Biggest Sandwich Ever (Rita Golden Gelman), Fantastic Mr Fox (Roald Dahl) and one of the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books.
- Andrew and Karen spoke about why they write for children (Andrew said that he never enjoyed life more than at the age of 11/12 and Karen was engaged by the world of picture books as a parent) and about their individual writing processes and their road to publication.
- Andrew studied the Professional Writing and Editing course at RMIT and had a writing group which included Kim Kane (author of Pip: the story of Olive), who recommended Andrew's work to a publishing contact, which lead to a contract with Hardie Grant Egmont for The Greatest Blogger in the World. Andrew also talked about the benefits in working with a close-knit publishing team, which allowed him to have more involvement in the publishing and editing process of his novel.
- Karen spoke about sending her Surprise manuscript to some publishers before deciding to investigate the world of self-publishing. It was really interesting to hear about Karen's process, and the way it allowed her to become involved in all aspects of the publishing process (from choosing illustrators, to printing and securing a distributor).
I was so lucky that Megan introduced me to Simmone before the session started (and yes, I fan-girled quite a bit on the inside).
- The session started with Maxine, a slam poet, performing one of her pieces and told the audience about a strong reaction she had recently received from the poem. Maxine spoke about the dilemmas of writing voice, which she felt was a big issue in poetry and if there was an ethical obligation involved.
- Tony Moore talked about his experience in writing narrative histories and essays and the importance of research in the author's voice.
- Simmone spoke about her experiences is writing YA - I found it very interesting to hear that she was writing about young women before knowing there was a marketing angle (it was just that she liked writing about teenagers and feels that her inner-age is 15!).
- Simmone talked about how Notes from the Teenage Underground was initally pitched as a adult novel, but was told that "adults don't want to read about young people" (not true!). Simmone also said that for her, young voices occur naturally in her writing and that she writes novels in enclosed worlds (like Christian holiday camps) that are "quite retro". Both her novels have minimal technological references (which stops her work from dating quickly) and Simmone made the interesting point that she tries to think about how teenagers "forever" will read her work.
- I loved Simmone's discussion of teenage slang in her writing (like barcode boys and tumbling) and that she teen-stalks (especially on the train haha), and picks up on the bravado and hesitation in teen voices.
- Alan Bissett performed the opening from his one-man play 'The Moira Monologues', inspired by some of the strong Scottish women in his life. It was very funny and once again, I pretty much stopped taking notes at this point and just enjoyed listening to the end of the session.
- There were some great questions about the topic of voice, and whether or not the panelists felt there were voices they felt they didn't have the right to write. One panelist (and I forgot to note who, so my apologies) made the beautiful comment about writing: that it's "starting with a kernel of truth and making it into something more than it is".
- Angela Meyer of Literary Minded also attended this session and wrote a brilliant (and far more detailed and insightful piece on it, so be sure to check it out).
Wednesday - Cassandra Clare at the Westgarth
Friday - Reading Matters (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4)
Saturday - Emerging Writers Festival 1
Sunday - Emerging Writers Festival Part 2
Monday - EWF - Getting into Genre YA
I'm also now home with regular internet access (after house-sitting at an internet-less home and living out of a suitcase for three weeks), so I'm looking forward to catching up on blogging, sharing some reviews and other bits and pieces I've been working on over the next couple of weeks.