Friday, May 20, 2011

AWRF: Ania's Wordy Day Out

Wordy Day Out – what a day it was!

After I got my AWRF booklet in mid-April I got very excited about ‘Wordy Day Out’. What a treat, I thought, and indeed it was! 11 writers who write for young people, all in Auckland in one place and on the same day!

Before the door opened to the lecture theatre I could feel the rising excitement of young girls and boys, hear the shimmering of turned pages at the bookstall, and giggles!

I chose to go to Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments series; Infernal Devices series) session in the morning. She spoke about her background and inspirations, fascination with books and stories, particularly fairy tales, and cities like Paris. While talking about writing process she stressed she likes writing in cafes, surrounded by friends because she likes ‘the flow of humanity’. What a great way to describe the act of writing!

Next, Garth Nix and Sean Williams (collaborative Troubletwisters series) gave the audience an unforgettable show. These two talked about their collaborative writing experience on Troubletwisters: how they explore their ideas, rewrite each other’s chapters and have lots of fun. They also stressed that each book has layers and every reader, no matter how old, will find something fascinating about the story. It is worth to have a look at the Troubletwisters’ website.

My third session – two new young New Zealand writers: David Hair (The Bone Tiki) and Karen Healey (Guardian of the Dead). I’ve been waiting for this session since I saw it on the programme. The publishers talk about their books as ‘Māori gothic’ genre. Whatever the label they give, these two authors are very talented and I hope we will see them shining from now on. I know Karen gave a series of talks to school groups and her book grabbed young people’s attention. I had the same experience while visiting one of schools for the Big Read festival and talking to years 5/6. Kids found an immediate connection with the characters and the story. They all wanted to read the book!

Bernard Beckett was the fourth speaker on my list. He’s got a gift of public speaking and I absorbed every single word he said. He entranced the audience giving an cathartic-like experience, starting with a sentence ‘All we do finishes on failure’… If you are 15 or 16 you will relate to Beckett’s books. He writes about ‘what he does not know much about’ as it helps to stay interested in the topic. His latest book August with a free-will theme explores humanity, power and love. Definitely a good read for those interested in philosophy and Augustinism.

I left the ‘Wordy Day Out’ with a thirst for more and more stories, especially by New Zealand authors, but satisfied due to such variety of styles, characters, plots and themes.

- Ania

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