Sunday, 30 April 2017

Adelaide Writers’ Week 2017

Adelaide Writers’ Week is one of my favourite times of the year. Hearing authors talk under the shade of the Pioneer Women’s Garden’s trees is entertaining, insightful, and fun. The weather is often lovely and cool or quite hot. This year was somewhere in between.
I spent the whole first day (and a session on day two) listening to this year’s authors, avoiding study and learning a thing or two.

I saw Marsden talk at the Salisbury Writers’ Festival a few years ago and he was as full of amusing stories in this session as he was then. While I did find his view on the market and the idea of writing for a market a bit cynical for my liking, he gave a number of interesting tips. Particularly interesting was his explanation of the difference between first and third person point of view, first person is about finding voice, third person is about finding tone.

Both Ladd and Fine’s talks were interesting. I half listened to Ladd while I scribbled in my bullet journal. He said poets are always inventing new metaphors to ‘guard against dead languages’.
Fine’s whole talk was fascinating and I really need to read her books. She talked about the myths surrounding gender and the different notions that influence our, often incorrect, perceptions, even affecting how science perceives gender.

This talk on writing about big ideas and topics for children was really fascinating. Bell talked about her book, The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade, which tells the story of an introverted little boy that doesn’t end up breaking out of his ‘shell’ and going to the parade but is rather allowed to be who he is. Bell explained that as an introverted kid she thought she was wrong for being as she was because we live in a world that encourages you to push to be extroverted, but that’s not always the right thing to do. And as I was quite an introverted kid (still am), this really spoke to me and made a lot of sense. 
A few other things: 
- A great book should be provocative
- Kid’s books should be bold, entertaining and comforting 
- When you’re writing from outside your experience, you should consult people who have that experience
- The message in a children’s book needs to be light and speak to children’s experience 
- Language in the children’s literature can (and should) delight both adult and children readers 

Being a great fan of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, I had to come in on Sunday to hear her speak. It was an entertaining and interesting panel from Macae Burnet and Kent. 
Lots of interesting things to think on:
- Kent saturates herself with the history she’s writing before she begins to write (she spent 18 months researching The Good People before writing)  
- Kent spent time in Ireland to create sensory memory of the place for her writing 
- A novel becomes more complex the more ambiguous it becomes 
- Create a sense of empathy rather than sympathy, empathy draws in the reader, sympathy distances them 
- Writers’ are attached to the gaps in history 

You can listen to these and all of the talks at Writers’ Week 2017 here. I still want to listen to a few I couldn’t make it to because of uni, especially Magical Places (Hannah Kent and Sara Taylor)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Adele | live in Concert

Seeing Adele live in concert was as amazing as you’d imagine. My sisters, mum and I went to see Adele when she came to Adelaide, back in March. The atmosphere that welled up in the cavernous space of the Adelaide Oval was really something, especially when Adele begun singing the first notes of Hello, still veiled behind the giant curtain, and the audience went crazy.

It always takes a few songs for my ears to adjust to the vibrating loudness of concerts, but even with that the first song of the concert was spine-tingling. Hello is one of my favourite songs and was a perfect opening. Other highlights were hearing Water Under The Bridge and Set Fire To The Rain, both sounded incredible live.
And then there was perhaps my favourite part of concerts, the banter. Adele is hilarious. I’d have happily just listened to her stories all night, but then again you wouldn’t want to miss hearing her vocals in that atmosphere. In any atmosphere, really. She’s also so warm and down to earth. I’m even more of a fan after seeing her live than I was before.

It was such a great night out, singing along, laughing and dancing with the girls. I love that it’s a side effect of going to concerts that afterward, when you listen to the CD, the memories of that live rendition and that night echo in your head and make the music that bit more special.

(And yes, I collected the confetti!)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bits and Bobs #3

READ | My uni reading list is almost done! Currently reading The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, with The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to go!

WRITE | Planning to revise some stories to start submitting to various places, plus looking at getting back into my novel planning.

WATCH/GO | Been going to the cinema a lot lately, which is quite unusual but extremely enjoyable! Saw Logan and Ghost in the Shell with the buds, both were enjoyable enough but had odd plot structures.
Also, watched Rouge One last night. There were some weird things but I really enjoyed it.

GET | I’ve acquired a delightful number of books recently. The Good People by Hannah Kent at Writers Week (which she signed), The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid (a gift from a friend) and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (won in a giveaway).

ETC. | The last week I’ve been back at home because of the uni break. Unfortunately, I’ve also been a bit sick but getting better with awhile left to enjoy home. My brother set up a makeshift desk for me to study at and I’m working hard to set myself up well for the next term!

Also, Happy Easter! Here’s to a glorious, chocolate-filled long weekend.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Book Series | The Extraordinaires

Kingsley Ward’s wolfishness was a problem. If it weren’t the howling, it was the occasional desire to bite boorish people, which was rarely acceptable, no matter how boorish the boor. If 1908 were going to be a good year, however, he would have to maintain his control when it was his turn to walk onto the stage of the Alexandra Theatre. 

The Extraordinaires series is a favourite of mine. Written by one of my favourite authors, Michael Pryor, it’s full of fun, adventure, witty dialogue and great characters all nicely packaged in two well written novels.
What can I say about this series without sounding like a crazy fangirl? Probably nothing, I’ll continue nevertheless. The series follows the adventures of Kingsley, an aspiring escapologist. He was raised by wolves and is extremely loveable. Kingsley is aided by the fabulous Evadne, who’s sassy, clever, layered and interesting while avoiding becoming one of those all capable, completely flawless ‘strong’ female characters. The adventures these two get up to are exciting, unexpected and rollicking good fun.

Book one, The Extinction Gambit, sees Kingsley getting caught up in a plot for world domination, immortal sorcerers, Neanderthals, underground worlds and magic.
Book two, The Subterranean Stratagem, continues the adventures but becomes more personal, focusing more on Kingsley’s quest to uncover his mysterious past. The twists and turns are plentiful and satisfying and it’s funny, the entrance of the character Finny is one of my favourite moments of the novel.

Both books have great pace, stories and an array of interesting characters that keep you entertained and interested. The second book is my favourite by a smidgeon, but both are amazing self-contained stories.
One of the things that I love about these books is how Pryor handles multiple points of view to give the reader more access to what’s happening in the story, creating tension by letting the reader know more than any single character. What makes this even more special and delightful is how each different point of view it written differently to make you feel like you are in the minds of these characters.

In a lot of ways the series is similar to Pryor’s outstandingly amazing The Laws of Magic series, yet equally it’s quite different. It’s similar in that it’s set in an early 20th century Britain with magic, has a sassy female character and an extremely likeable male protagonist. But it is different in how it sets up magic, the dynamic between the two leads, its use of multiple points of view and the overall feel of the world and story.
If you loved Pryor’s Laws of Magic series (and why wouldn't you?), I think you’ll love this.

I’m incredibly sad there is currently no third novel coming in the foreseeable future, but at least I am able to reread the glorious two that are available to me!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Quote | Nothing is the New Black

Currently very much looking forward to the uni break coming up. However, I won’t be lounging around, doing nothing (well, not all of the time), rather I’ll be trying to get ahead on all the essays due in the last half of semester and get all my English reading more or less done.

The amount of assignments I have after the break is daunting but I’m looking forward to expanding on various ideas and thinking about texts critically.

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