I feel like it has been far too long since I’ve written a blog post, but that is because my literary life (and life in general) has been full to bursting for August and September and is just now settling down.
First off I launched a book club called YA’ll For Brunch? It’s designed to be a fun and care free meet up once a month to talk Young Adult books and it’s been great! There’s been two meetings so far (that’s how long it’s been since I’ve blogged!), but there have been a bunch of people each time and It’s been hard to know when to end the discussion. We all could have gone on for ages, which is the best feeling, but our lives call and we must head back to them. Good thing is, it’ll happen again next month, so if you missed it, you can come next time! Add it to your calendar on Facebook or Eventbrite. It is totally worth it!
Then Melbourne Writers Festival consumed me for over a week. In the best way. I went to 9 events over 10 days Highlights for me were meeting David Levithan/hearing him speak, and the Queer Literary Salon. I’ve been slightly obsessed with David for a while now, ever since I read Two Boys Kissing. So to hear him speak (three times!) was inspiring on a number of levels. The Queer Literary Salon (as it was last year) was empowering, confronting and a bit heartbreaking. The sense of community and solidarity is a thing of beauty. It made me (as it did last year) think that I don’t go to enough poetry slams/readings. I was particularly wowed by Ivan Coyote and Lawrence Lacambra Ypil.
I also went to three book launches. Cath Crowley’s launch for Words In Deep Blue (a book that is absolutely worth reading!) was brilliant. It was launched by Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell. Fiona’s speech and the excerpts she read just highlighted the understated beauty of Cath’s writing. Then Simmone read a poem that she had constructed by randomly selecting words and phrases from the book, it was wonderful and I hope that it somehow becomes available to read again, even if it’s only in the ‘Letter Library Edition’ of Words In Deep Blue that we have on the shelf at The Younger Sun. (if you’re unsure what a Letter Library edition is, all I can say is read the book, it’ll make perfect sense, then come visit us to add to it!).
I love @SunBookshop. They’ve made a letter library copy of Words in Deep Blue pic.twitter.com/Nx5k5zzdC3
— Cath Crowley (@CathCrowley) August 24, 2016
I went straight from Cath’s launch to the launch of Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas. This was part of MWF and had a different slightly different vibe to it. Jared’s daughter was singing for everyone before and after the speeches and she was so good! But as I started the #AusQueerYA tumblr as what I see as an important resource, I was thrilled to be there to celebrate the very first YA title with a queer indigenous protagonist.
The following week was Claire Saxby and Connah Beacon’s launch for Wild Pa. It was the perfect place to pick up a Father’s Day gift. There were plenty of kids and talking about what our Pa’s were like. Once I had sent a nicely dedicated copy to my own father to read with his grand-kids, he told me that he loved it – except: he didn’t authorise his biography to be written.
Thrown into the mix of MWF was the Text Party. This was the first time I’d been to it, and I’d always heard that it was THE event of the season for the book industry. This is probably because it’s one of the few/only events that is just a party. There’s good food, an open bar, and great company with only a few short speeches thrown in. I was very pleased to be there.
Also in that crazy week where I barely had a night at home, was winning free tickets to the play Wit which was being put on a fortyfivedownstairs. It’s probably been 5 or 6 years since I’ve been to the theatre and knowing nothing of the play, reading that it was ‘a dramatic comedy about cancer’, I didn’t know what to expect. It was amazing! So many laughs. So many tears.
The Wheeler Centre put on a fantastic event called ‘Forever Young: Children’s Literature Today’. It was Sally Rippin hosting a conversation with Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs and Julia Eccleshare (writer, broadcaster, lecturer and the Guardian’s children’s book editor). It was such an intelligent discussion that covered everything from writing books for children to reviewing them and the way that children read/respond. It was one of the best free events I’ve been to, and it makes me wonder why more of that level of discussion wasn’t included in MWF. It is possible, after all, to have an adult appreciation of children’s literature and discuss it in substantial ways. You can listen to it HERE
Meanwhile – because clearly I had nothing else going on – I have been running a #KidsLitChallenge on Instagram. As much work as they are, I love these challenges and the way people get involved, sharing books and their love of them. I will most likely run another #PictureBookChallenge before the year is out…
And lastly, in my crazy literary month, I was very excited to be approached for a ‘thing’! Something I told myself when I changed jobs recently was that I wanted to get more involved with the book industry (if that was possible), but more specifically, I wanted to put myself out there for a potential chair/host etc for literary events. I hadn’t really gotten around to doing anything about it, but I was approached by RMIT to be part of a comedy debate about Tropes in YA. I was beside myself! I even said, are you sure you want me? Everyone else on this list is a published author, I am but a lowly bookseller… But yes! So I’m in a ‘Thing’! And if you’re in Melbourne and enjoy a bit of YA, then you should totally come along! Here are the deets: