Book Week and beyond

It’s been a long week of speaking gigs — six sessions over four days. With Book Week now over, I can sit back, relax and assess how things went. But only for a short time, ‘cause on Monday I’m at it again.

Mooroolbark College was first cab off the rank, with two sessions — one for Year 7 and the other for Year 8 and up. These were general presentations about writing, some of the techniques I use and how I go about planning and writing a novel. I was very impressed with this school. Not just because they had engaged students, interested teachers and a great library… but because they had acquired dark chocolate Tim Tams specially for my visit.  🙂

Next up was a talk to Year 7 students at John Fawkner College. The session focused on the fun aspects of reading and writing in an attempt to generally enthuse the kids. I got the chance to talk about lots of things that interest me, including Doctor Who and science fiction. Another excellent experience with wonderful library staff and enthusiastic students who asked lots of questions.

Sonic screwdrivers at the ready @ Springvale Library

Then there were two sessions with Year 5 and 6 kids at the Springvale Library. These talks were organized through the Greater Dandenong Children’s and Youth Services Library Program, which organises free events for the local schools. Such a wonderful program to engage with the local community. In these sessions I talked a lot about Doctor Who and computer games — about how these things have inspired me both as a reader and a writer.

These two sessions demonstrated the different dynamics of different groups, even within the same school. The first group was quite quiet and there was only one question at the end. Whereas the second group ran out of time because there were so many questions… including a very thoughtful one about whether I ever get discouraged when writing. The first group was no less enthusiastic — in fact, the kids seemed very pleased when the lack of questions resulted in an extra reading — they just expressed their enthusiasm in a different way.

The week finished up with a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne for a third year subject ‘Encounters With Writing’. I spoke about the various markets that can (and should) be considered by people wanting to make a living out of writing.

The Melb Uni lecture was a highlight — not just because of the topic or the students (although the students were great and asked lots of pertinent questions) but because of the location. I did my undergraduate degree at Melb Uni and I loved being there. I have a great affection for the campus and the buildings, and the vibe of the place. It was so nice to be back. After the lecture I took some time to just wander around and reminisce.

Given that I was lecturing at a university I had the overwhelming need to wear tweed. Because, of course, tweed is quintessentially academic. To accompany the tweed jacket, I had to wear a skivvy. It seemed right. They only let-down of the ensemble was the lack of elbow patches on my jacket — something that was pointed out to me by several online friends.

So, now I get a bit of a breather over the weekend and then it’s off to Western Australia. Starting Monday, I have a speaking tour (with three other authors and illustrators) of schools in the Pilbara region. No tweed for this trip. Given that the temperature up there seems to be hovering in the low 30s, it may well be time to break out the shorts and t-shirts (and these don’t come in tweed, unfortunately). Organised through the Children’s Charity Network (CCN), this tour, and others like it, provide experiences for kids in remote areas who would not otherwise get to have an author or illustrator visit their school. The CCN does so many wonderful things for kids across the country. I am very proud to be involved with them.

And then when I get back to Melbourne… more school visits. Ilim College and Aldercourt Primary School. And then the Boroondara School Holiday Program, the Write Away With Me kids writing masterclasses and a visit to Buln Buln.

Busy times! And I wouldn’t want it any other way.  🙂