This weekend I have been at a local event, the Willamstown Literary Festival. It's great to take part in, or be in the audience (I did both) of a smaller event. The Melbourne Writers' Festival has big name writers but you only get to see them on stage in the distance, and they are often reading prepared speeches and seem vastly removed.
A small festival allows you to really engage with the speakers and you also don't feel such a fool when you ask questions!
Yesterday at the festival Paul Collins and I launched our Quentaris novels, No. 21 and 22 in the series. I got to dress up as a pirate (albeit a restrained pirate, with a skull and crossbones Bandaid on my eyebrow) and teach the audience how to talk 'proper' - lots of Arrrrrrrrrs and Avasts and Aye ayes. And I threw chocolate gold coins and lollies in an old-fashioned lolly scramble. What great fun - and I did explain that pirates didn't understand public liability insurance before I threw them.
I also made a cake like a pirate flag, complete with skull and crossbones made out of white chocolate. If I could master the art of posting a photo on this blog (no luck so far) I could put up a photo. In the meantime you might have to visit my website News page, when I finish reformatting. Andy Griffiths did a good job of the launch, and we sold about 70 books between us. That's a healthy number!
Today I was the speaker in a session on Writing for Children, then sat in on a session about "The Death of Australian Publishing". Very interesting, and the focus was on literary fiction, which seems to have been dying in Australia for some time. Half the number of novels are now being published compared to ten years ago. Makes a person glad not to be writing lit fiction (but the yearning is still there! probably why I still write short stories. It's like hanging around the margins).
In the meantime, I love kid's books, and I love meeting kids at the launch and giving them large slices of my chocolate pirate flag cake.