Thursday, August 27, 2009

Writers' Festival - Melbourne

I was in at the festival briefly on Wednesday morning, but didn't have time to go to any of the sessions (it was schools' days). However, I was there when the kids all came out and began lining up with great excitement to get their books signed. The longest queue was in front of John Boyne, and quite a few of the kids had books other than The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, so obviously whatever John had talked about had inspired them to buy other titles. Readings is running the bookshop again this year, and it's fatal to venture inside!

I'm going to sessions on Friday and Sunday, so am anticipating being inspired and fascinated and intrigued. I hope. I've booked everything from U.S. Publishing and Small Press/Magazines to Women in History and M.J. Hyland in Conversation. Plus a book launch and catching up with writer friends. I do wish the Atrium at Federation Square was more inviting. Although the food and coffee areas at the Malthouse (the previous venue) were squished, they were also busy and vibrant, and you always ended up seeing old friends wandering around.

The new venue is huge, cold and soulless. I felt very sorry for the writer and interviewer yesterday who had been stuck at a table in the corner of the vast space and expected to not only be heard over the echoing noise, but also be engaging. Was never going to be possible. There are only two cafes in the space, the staff are pretty slow (the Malthouse staff had their coffee making down to a fast fine art, not to mention their wine pouring) and the sheer hugeness defies any kind of atmosphere, let alone one that would invite you to linger and talk.

Oh well, let's hope the sessions and the writers will provide plenty of interest and food for conversation, when we find a spot to settle and chat. Preferably near a heater. I will report back!

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