Monday, May 08, 2006

Back in Melbourne and of course we have lots and lots of snow on the mountains (which aren't that close to the city but you would think we were sitting on top of them) and the temperature didn't even make it to 15C today. Brrrrrr. It was a fight to get close to the heater tonight as two cats took up prime positions and would not be moved.
Third day of the conference was as engaging and interesting as the first two. I had thought that Michelle Paver had pulled out, but in a session that was titled Book to Film (and had her name on it) she appeared and proceeded to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. Not an easy thing to do by just talking, but she told lots of stories about her research, including one about meeting a bear by a stream and nearly dying of fright, and another about horse riding in Northern Europe (didn't catch the name of the place) and eating raw seal liver and blubber.
She also told some very funny stories about her obsession as a child with the Stone Age, and how she slept on fake fur on the floor for 3 years and skinned a rabbit in her garage. Her mother must have been very understanding! It certainly explains why her books (Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker etc) are so wonderful at evoking life in the Stone Age. But it's also her writing style - very strong verbs, short sentences, great drama and tension - and her main character that makes her books a terrific read. I loved Wolf Brother and am reading Spirit Walker right now. Her books are being made into a film (by Ridley Scott) but that wasn't actually the topic.
Doug MacLeod and John Misto combined to create a very funny session on writing for film and TV, and the session on merchandising was amazingly informative. The changes in technology they expect over the next 10 years mean although we will still have books, there will be so many other options for how we use "content" that writers need to start thinking ahead. It's vital that we keep control of our content (our stories) and it confirms what I have thought about copyright. It is all the author has to sell, and even if you think you won't sell it (i.e. get published and paid for it), you don't actually know that. You just might not have approached the right market.
The conference ended with a debate - That the Film is always better than the Book - and of course the Book won, but the debaters were very funny all the same.
Some other interesting notes from sessions - in one on picture books, a speaker pointed out that picture books teach young children visual literacy, and the adult's job is to unlock the story for the child.
David Lloyd said when he reads a pb text to Helen Oxenbury, if she laughs then he knows she will agree to illustrate it.
Now back to normal life - kitchen renovations, planning permits, teaching, prep of class notes, reading, paying bills and all that stuff that gets in the way of writing! I have three picture books to work on, and have just joined an online picture book critique group (all ex-Chatauqua people) so hope we can all be useful to each other.


Lee said...

Again, you are assuming that everyone wants to sell their work. And even if most do, making it freely available electronically does not mean that it won't sell. You should have a look at what Cory Doctorow is up to, and what he says about these matters. I agree with him that theft of one's work is a far smaller risk than obscurity.

Sherryl said...

Thanks for your comments. I know what you are talking about and I do agree - but not completely.
I guess I am talking about the point at which you *do* sell something, and what happens with the contract or agreement. Book publishers want all rights even if they have no intention or no ability to use them. This guy was saying - be aware of that, be aware of all the other technology coming and how, if you retain rights to your content, you as the author can open up huge new audiences with people who aren't into books but are into other media. And if you hand that over to the book publisher without thinking about it, you are foolish.
They've been telling us for years not to hand over electronic rights but it's really hard when the publisher makes a fuss.
He also made the point that you are making - that the internet holds great potential for reaching audiences and should be fully used, especially as technology allows people to download more and more from their internet connection. But when it comes right down to it, only you could write that story and that is worth protecting and making the most of.

Lee said...

An interesting article in this on-going and crucial debate: