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)

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