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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reading Matters - Back From the Con!

I had to get up almost as early for this event as to go to work. I was taking some things to show around and some bookmarks to hand out and needed a good breakfast before leaving home. At least I didn't have to make lunch! I made sure I was wearing my Wolfborn t-shirt, of course. It was a good event for me as a teacher-librarian, but I also meant to make sure I promoted my books.

When I reached the venue, RMIT's Storey Hall, which is a strange building with some decorative green lumps on the roof, I found that the booksellers had ten copies of Wolfborn. They took three of my Notable stickers in case they had to send back the rest. In the end, they sold nearly all the books! :-)

The first presentation was Markus Zusak's, including a performance from his novel The Book Thief. I remember coming across a book trailer for that, which won the Random House teen competition a few years back. It was terribly elaborate and sophisticated, with live action. Never mind, it doesn't have to be live action to be wonderful!

Markus Zusak spoke and read from his newest book, that he's still working on, warning that he's the worst reader ever (he was okay!). I haven't ever been able to get into his books, but I might have a go now. He looked about sixteen at the first SLAV/Viewpoint conference I saw him at, and still looks pretty young.

This was followed by some panels by other guests such as Lucy Christopher, Karen Healey, Kirsty Eagar and Brenton McKenna, whose graphic novel Ubby's Underdogs. is set in Broome in the 1940s and whose heroine, Ubby, is based on his own grandmother.

We were all given free copies of Karen Healey's new book, The Shattering, which I'm enjoying so far, and will review before donating it to my library.

After lunch, we had another panel, which included Markus and Cassandra Clare and Melina Marchetta, who is apparently writing a sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, her fantasy novel about the refugee experience - damn. I'd always thought it was a perfectly good stand-alone novel that had made its point first time around and had a happy ending. Possibly, she'll throw her heroes into more angst. Oh, well.

There were a lot of good offerings over the weekend, but so many I'll just mention some that were highlights for me.

Cassandra Clare was a jolly American lady who did a very entertaining talk that made me want to read at least her first book in the angel series. It was interesting to hear Rebecca Stead, who told us all the autobiographical elements that went into her time travel novel When You Reach Me, which was set in New York City during her own childhood.

I ran into Kirsty Eagar during the morning tea and she asked me if we knew each other, she'd swear she had met me. I said I hadn't met her, but had loved Saltwater Vampires, with its nasty vamps and its Batavia incident background. I gave her my card so she could look up my review.

There was an enjoyable panel on the subject of book design, with a panel of artists who had been given a brief to design a cover for a new book. When they had shown their own designs, explaining their thoughts on the matter, there was a panel of "experts" to comment on them - a librarian, a bookseller and a boy from Melbourne High, who was apparently "Captain of the Book Club", whatever that is. Hmm, wonder if any of my book clubbers would like to be captain? I thought perhaps it might have been better to get an ordinary student who didn't go to a selective high school, because his thoughts on the matter didn't mesh with what I know from our students that they like. Still, it was good to see some of the work behind book design.

There was a very fine panel by Cath Crowley (Graffiti Moon, her latest) and Leanne Hall, talking about how they researched the urban bits behind their new novels, complete with breathtaking photos they took of night time Melbourne, to go with their night-themed novels.

My favourite was the panel with Richard Newsome and the delightful Oliver Phomavanh, a double comic act, with Oliver zooming around on his scooter and making his soft toys "speak". Oliver said that his over-the-top teacher in Thai-Riffic! was based on himself - he'd also mentioned this on the student day and showed pictures of himself with his class and some of his bizarre class competitions mentioned in the novel.

Argh, I have a LOT of reading to do! Just as soon as I've prepared classes and cleaned the house and ...

I met several CBCA judges who told me how much they'd enjoyed my novel (even if not enough to short-list it, but you never know, apparently to get on the Notables six judges have to think it should be short-listed and I may have met those judges). One even complimented me on Crime Time, which she thought had been a Notable. I said it hadn't, because I would have known from my publisher, but I checked the list this morning just in case and sure enough it wasn't there. Oh, well. She'd also been on the committee when Potions To Pulsars got a Notable and loved it. A little egoboo now and then is nice and even nicer, though only one person I know personally from Booktalkers asked for a signed copy, they sold pretty much all of the copies of Wolfborn they had at the table. There was only one left of ten copies at the last afternoon tea and for all I know they may have sold that too. They didn't have Crime Time, I'm afraid, but yesterday I was wearing my CT t-shirt and made sure I had bookmarks for both books to hand out. And when I was at the MSFC mini-con the other week, I made sure that every copy of Wolfborn I sold had a CT bookmark in it. ;-)

It was nice that they had at least my latest book; I spoke to Pam Saunders the other day, who said that they'd asked the booksellers to bring books by about six writers, including me, who weren't on the program. I had sent my emails to request it, but you can never be sure whether they'll do it or ignore you.

Afterwards, I had a lovely chat with one of the CBCA judges and she, like me, loves reading over-the-top non-fiction and adores Geoffrey Trease and Rosemary Sutcliff. We hoped that the movie of Eagle Of The Ninth, which still hasn't turned up here, will get more children and teens into reading her books - some at my school are already re-discovering her.

I'm just going to add a photo of myself with Kevin Lee, a gentleman who works in a bank, but is passionate about YA literature, whom I know from many a Booktalkers event, and then go off to breakfast. My smoke alarm has warned me that the egg i put on to poach has started to burn! Looks like it's fried now.


Sheep Rustler said...

It all sounds very exciting! I loved the Book Thief (so much that I accidentally bought two copies ... whoops!) And I loved Leanne Hall's first book and cannot wait for the sequel!

Sue Bursztynski said...

The sequel will be out very soon; I heard about it the other night at the last Booktalkers for the year.

Easy to buy two copies of a book, when they change the cover and even, sometimes, the title!