Monday, May 07, 2007

Williamstown Literary Festival

(Crime Writers' panel above)
Have just spent a large amount of my weekend at the local Willy LitFest, putting up a display of stuff from the course I teach in (and talking in a session about the course, and about writing groups - doing a hat switching trick), and listening to people talk about writing and books.
Joan Kirner opened the festival and then 15-year-old Alexandra Adornetto spoke about the novel she wrote over summer when she was 13, which is now being published by HarperCollins. It's a fantasy of course, and sounds like fun. I realised that the strange sound I could hear was all the adult writers in the audience grinding their teeth. Of course, how hard is it to write a book and then get it published? Piece of cake. We all know that!
Later in the afternoon, the winners and final ten entries in the Ada Cambridge Writing Competition were announced. I say winners, because for the first time, they awarded a joint first prize. My writing group, Western Women Writers, did the shortlisting of the final ten, and I understand the judges' dilemma over two very different stories (but I know which one I would have given it to!). The AC is a different kind of story competition because it's for autobiographical/biographical work, so you get a lot of people entering life stories who might not normally write short fiction. Some terrific stories which are now published in the anthology.
Sunday was a mix - the most popular session by far was with William McInnes, sometimes TV and movie star and sometimes writer. I didn't get to this session but I believe the masturbation story was very entertaining.
I did attend the crime writers' session with Garry Disher, Adrian Hyland and Angela Savage, moderated by Carmel Shute. A good session as Carmel prepares her questions with experience and thought, and the writers all write quite different stuff. Later, I got a chance to chat with Adrian Hyland, who wrote "Diamond Dove". He is working on another novel with the same main character, while teaching at La Trobe. One of the things that came up during the session was whether a writer in Australia can write full-time - most can't. But Garry said when he made the decision to do it, although his income dropped dramatically, he felt suddenly free (funny that, since he was teaching creative writing!). Now he is in the position of being contracted for two books at a time, and having to often write what publishers dictate, so there are ups and downs in every option.
The day was finished off with a book launch - Shaun Micallef launching Claire Saxby's new picture book. And as I was late getting there, I missed the story about nudity in the swimming pool changing rooms. But I heard about it later. A good small literary festival means you end up hearing all about the sessions, even if you didn't make it there yourself!

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