Saturday, May 06, 2006

Children’s Book Council Conference – Sydney
Arrive in Sydney and discover there is still sunshine in the world! Melbourne is grey in the mornings now, and cold and wet. Found the hotel and it’s good – not flashy and not as noisy as I thought. The Vulcan. I am on the slightly-below-ground floor which means if I have the window open, I can see people’s legs going past.
First day of the conference and the queues are enormous. It doesn’t help when Meredith and I have stood in the wrong queue for half an hour before we get close enough to realise we should have been in A-K.
Into the auditorium for the opening session and I am glad I brought my glasses as the stage is a very long way away. We begin with an Aboriginal speaker and didgeridoo music which is interesting and eerie. One session with Helen Oxenbury and her publisher, David Lloyd, was very funny and very British. Helen speaks in measured, slow tones which makes it even funnier. David reminds me of how important it is to read your picture books with gusto and verve.
Day One ends with a cocktail party where there were copious amounts of wine and champagne and only enough food to feed a couple of peckish chickens. Many many complaints are heard the next day about paying $35 for chips and pretzels! And a few sore heads from drinking too much on an empty stomach. The food overall has been pathetic.
Day Two included a poetry session, a session on animals in picture books (which was disappointing because I was hoping for a discussion on anthropomorphism), and Leigh Hobbs and Shaun Tan talking about illustrating and what goes into it. It was great to get the other point of view on picture books. The other session I enjoyed on Day one was Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton talking about their collaboration.
We missed out on dinner with agent and others due to poor coordination of movements. Instead we lobbed off to the Asian restaurant near our hotel and had another terrific bowl of laksa.
The book fair has been interesting – a lot of smaller publishers, some I hadn’t heard of, and a huge range of books. Makes me feel overwhelmed, actually. All those books, more and more coming out all the time. How on earth are my books supposed to compete? And all these new writers, along with all the old ones. Certainly puts you in your place!
Day three program is about books and film. I'm not sure how interested I am in all of this, so will take something to read and might find a spot in the sunshine to read with a good cup of coffee. One of the very nice things has been Pan Macmillan's launches where the books are FREE! Amazing.

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