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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Club, Isobelle Carmody And Me

It's 5.30 am and I can't sleep. Today we're launching Trust Me Too, of which more later, when it's happened. It will be a long day!When I've done this post I will emulate my fellow Random House writer Rhiannon Hart and do some early-morning work on my novel.;-)

Yesterday I took my book clubbers to Marian College, where my friend and colleague Sharon Hayes now works. I first met her when I came to my current school, where she was running the senior campus library and the college library network. As it happened, she was a friend of a friend. She left a couple of years later to have a baby and never returned, but we have continued to meet at Booktalkers and the Melbourne Writers Festival. At one of these events,Sharon kindly invited me to bring some students along to hear Isobelle Carmody. Her school is within walking distance of mine, so the offer was irresistible! I ended up with eighteen students, including two Year 7 girls(nineteen, actually, but Natalie was absent, which her friends said later was a great pity). I was joined by Chris Wheat, a workmate and fellow YA novelist,and we were lucky enough to get some fine weather for the walk, a relief as it was raining all night.

We reached the school early, while the first session was going in the auditorium, and waited in the library, where the students pounced on the books with cries of delight and admired the layout of the huge library. They declared we must rearrange our library similarly and Selena, who has ambitions as an engineer or architect and is brilliant at maths, offered to come up with some ideas. I've tried to do this before, but if she can work something out...

Sharon's colleague Sophie came to collect us and take us to the school auditorium, which was along a corridor. Sharon was there with Isobelle, who was taking a short break between sessions. She knows me from various conferences and joked that I'd heard her so often I could sleep if I liked. She was happy to chat with my book clubbers and Thando, who had to leave early to pick up her young brother, asked her planned question, which was about volume 3 of Legendsong. Isobelle said it was written, but she had other commitments before that one could happen and said next year, some time.

The Marian College girls arrived. Some were friends of my own students and hugs were exchanged before we settled down to listen to the official talk. It was one worth hearing, as Isobelle talked about her storytelling to her younger siblings, whom she terrified with scary stories and hunted through the house. She spoke of the fact that when you write it has to be, first and foremost, for yourself and you have to care and feel it yourself if you want anyone else to. She was bullied at school, plus not being able to come out of the house much when she was at home, so when she wrote her first novel, Obernewtyn, at fourteen, it was about a girl who didn't fit in. She talked about Little Fur and how she'd come up with the idea for that.

After the talk, we presented Sharon with flowers and with chocolates to share with her book club. Isobelle hung around to sign books and answer further questions. She kindly posed for photos with the book clubbers, then we headed for home.

It was a terrific day and the students had a wonderful time, as did Chris and I.

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