Sunday, August 17, 2008

Byron Bay Writers Festival Day 2

Day 2 and we were relieved to wake up to blue sky and sunshine.

I began the day by dropping into the Kids Tent and watched Danny Katz and Mitch Vane in action. Danny read from their new book 'The Little Lunch Games' while Mitch illustrated the story on butcher paper. Kids in the audience were then invited to draw their own characters.

Next I noticed the line-up for a fix, as the caffeine addicts stood patiently waiting to get their morning hit. (I'm a reformed caffeine addict although my poison was Coca-Cola)

I attended a session called First Writes: the Path to Publication. In this session Annette Hughes said 'the hardest thing about memoir is there's no end, you're not dead yet' which is how I felt when I was writing the pizza delivery girl tales - trying to work out where it should end! (these publicaion sessions always get me in because I'm still on that first path).

Afterwards I talked to Lollie Barr, who wrote the young adult novel The Mag Hags. and whose by-line I see every week in the paper.

And I couldn't resist asking Aussie Idol Damien Leith for a photo opportunity as I'm a sucker for an Irish accent.
Morris Gleitzman always draws a crowd and the queue in the background of this photo are his young fans eager for an autograph. Perhaps you don't have to be an Aussie Idol after all?

Next session I attended was 'Talking the Talk: Getting the dialogue right' with Max Barry, Virginia Duigan, Michael Gow and Judy Nunn. Max said 'You are writing a story that is taking place in the mind of the readers' summing up that we need to give our readers space to bring their own experiences to the story.

I bought Max's book Company following the session and told him I was nominated him for Foxy Author of the Week on my friend Natalie's blog. So - of course, had to get a photo with Foxy Max!

Next, I dropped by the kids tents again to see the talented and very young William Kostakis exercising excellent crowd control on the youngsters.

It seems that William has been writing about the same character (Courtney) since 6th grade. That's a long long obsession. You can read the results in his young adult novel Loathing Lola.

The next session was We'll Always Have Paris: celebrity versus literary publishing with the heads of Penguin Australia, Pan MacMillan along with the editor of Wet Ink magazine. I introduced myself to Phillip Edmunds as my story Beyond Happily Ever After will be published in Wet Ink next month.

Back at the cabin after a long and full day, we debated a mystery. How did our cabin key end up on our doormat? Well, it seems that the bush turkey was the culprit.

Saturday night dinner options were difficult and after much searching we ended up with two tables at opposite ends of the balcony at Hogs Breath Cafe. After a group near one vacated, we managed to make it one large table and ended up having an interesting conversation about men. But mostly we were exhausted...ready to retire and prepare for another exciting day at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Byron Bay Writers Festival pt 1

We set off on our annual pilgrimage to Byron Bay Writers Festival on Thursday at noon. I didn't envy Roby's task of driving through the relentless rain, but we stayed optimistic that the weather would be on our side and the sky would clear.

It was not to be...

We burrowed in the cabin for the rest of the afternoon, and as soon as we stepped out of the car in the main drag of Byron, the rain poured down once more. So we stepped into the nearest eatery Fresh and were pleased with our dining experience.

Jen and I tackled the collage poetry on our first evening in the cabin, and we all tried to chase the rain away with the power of our minds.
Not powerful enough...

The next morning after we'd showered and breakfasted and filled ourselves with caffeine, Lyn turned up on the doorstep as we were about to leave the cabin and walk over to the Festival site and told us that the Festival had been cancelled. We reacted with despair and gloom. How dare the gods be so unkind!
Roby and Caz drove over to the site to assess the damage and check out the water-logging, while Jen and I stayed in the cabin to wallow in collage.

When the troops returned, we debated what we were going to do to fill in the day. We rejected the possibility of getting cabin fever while surrouned by pouring rain, and opted for a quick lunch, followed by op-shopping and a trip to the cinema to see Mama Mia.

In town, we almost walked past Vinnies before we realised that it was Vinnies. As Jen had infected me with the collage bug again, I was itching to get my hands on more magazines and more glossy raw words to recycle and transform. The magazine shelf held the usual suspects - the Who Weeklys, the New Weeklys: all the glossy gossip garbage. New Scientist attracts my eye but there is no decent size text, and I finally settle on a couple of New Women magazines and a 'Real Living' magazine.

I scanned the bookshelf - I cannot resist checking out second hand books. The typical tired and wretched paberbacks toppled over each other but nestled amongst them was a copy of Gregory Maguire's 'Mirror Mirror' (the retelling of Snow White). Score! I grabbed it - it's meant to be mine.
The second op shop is too tiny to have a book section but I buy a purple scarf to keep my neck warm for the rest of the weekend.

It seems that many of the misplaced festival attendees have decided to spend the rainy afternoon at Mama Mia -- the foyer is filled with patrons waiting for the cinema to open. This is my second time seeing the musical after seeing it on Cheap Tuesday in Coffs Harbour with a group of work colleagues. The second time is different - perhaps they're more reverential in Byron Bay. The Coffs audience was in hysterics every time James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) opened his mouth to sing but Byron Bay accepts his singing without a titter.

We decide to eat at the Curry House that evening, and are given the room upstairs, all to ourselves except the couple who are stuck in the room next door (it seems more like a store room than an eating area). Thrilled by the tiny enclave to ourselves we dance and talk and chat and feast.

And hope that the rain will go away....