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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CYL anniversary celebration

Tonight I attended the first event of the Booktalkers year, the 21st anniversary of the Centre for Youth Literature. Of course, the founder of the Centre, Agnes Nieuwenhuizen, was there.

Here she is, speaking to us, holding up a book she picked up at Reading's.

Sorry I have so many heads in front, but those are distinguished heads. That gentleman is Mike Shuttleworth, who ran the CYL for several years and is now a TL at Princes Hill SC and doing the Melbourne Writers' Festival. Next to him is Maureen McCarthy, whose wonderful YA novels were first recommended to me by students when I was doing a stint at the very library when Mike is now lucky enough to work. The lady in red next to her is Libby Gleeson, author of a lot of very popular YA books. They had all been involved with the Centre at one time or another - Maureen spoke of how she had encountered Agnes while teaching children's writing at RMIT and unsure of how to go about it.

Other panellists included Jenny Lovell, who arranges all those great little acts that go with the Teenage Booktalker sessions. She first met Agnes when the CYL was located at St Martin's, which had a youth theatre at the time (Agnes once told me that she gave them a copy of my book Potions To Pulsars to use for research for a show they were doing on women scientists). These guys were reminiscing about their experiences with Agnes, who sat on the side, moderating.

Boori Monty Pryor, who is one of the new Children's Laureates, was there because Agnes had a connection with his very first book (and I remember how he spoke of his father handing out copies, which made me think of my own father).

Erica Wagner was on the panel too. I have known her for years, since I first tried to sell her Wolfborn while she was about to leave Penguin. She said no, but read it again when she got to A&U. She said no again, but at least she gave it a go.

Agnes herself ,instead of a talk about the history of the CYL, did a quiz, offering chocolates to those who answered her questions.

The big guest speakers for the evening were David Levithan, some of whose books I've read and enjoyed, and Melina Marchetta. I enjoyed hearing both of them and bought two of his books - I'd read just about everything else on the bookseller table.

The place was overflowing with big names in writing - I encountered a number of my Twitter buddies and several writers and publishers I've known over the years.

I wore my Wolfborn t-shirt by way of promo. It would have been nice to have someone ask about it, but no such luck. Maybe my sister is right to say that these things aren't as useful as you might think. :-(

However, I don't regret wearing it, because it meant I was recognised and pounced on by, would you believe, Melina Marchetta, who was delighted with my review of Froi of the Exiles and had, while she was about it, read my post about Dad. She said she could relate, because of her own relationship with her Dad.

I met Cassandra Golds, who is best-known as a novelist these days, but I remember from the NSW School Magazine, where she used to work, and we ad a chat about Geoffrey McSkimming, author of those deliciously funny Cairo Jim novels, who also used to work for the NSWSM (maybe still does?) She once rejected an article of mine, but eventually bought it on a re-write.

I had a chat with Miffy, whom I interviewed about a month ago, and Paul Collins, whom I gave some Crime Time bookmarks.

We all had some cake which Agnes cut, and I left for home about 9.15 pm.

However, it's getting on for midnight now, as I missed my tram, so I'm off to bed.

Good night, all!


Lan said...

Sounds like a great time was had by all. I'm so jealous you got to meet Melina Marchetta. Although if I met her I'd have no idea what to say to her anyway!

What Kate did next ... said...

Lovely to see you there Sue :-)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Always nice to see you too, though we didn't get a chance to talk this time.