Search This Blog

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Melbourne Writers' Festival 2013

This is the first year in a very long time I've not gone at all. I don't even know what was on this year, though I'm on their mailing list. I haven't been well, I have had other commitments, or I would have made an effort to attend something.

But I had been attending fewer events anyway in the last few years. I used to take a chance when you could get ten events cheaper, and my membership card for the Australian Society of Authors made it even cheaper. Both options disappeared, though you could still get a bit of a discount as a member of the Victorian Writers Centre(I joined for a couple of years). So I booked events that I was pretty sure I would enjoy. I am a genre fan - history, crime both fiction and true, spec fic. And children's and YA. I'm not into literary fiction or philosophy or the kind of authors everyone has heard of but very few have actually read, the ones who can't actually tell you what their novel is about, just that it's "beautiful writing". Not for me, sorry! For me, beautiful writing has to include a story, and characters I care about, the kind of book I can read for comfort late at night when I can't sleep.

But over the years, they stopped doing the kind of things I might enjoy in the evening. And while there was the occasional children's or YA writer on the weekend, there were not enough to satisfy me, and nearly anything I really wanted to hear was on during the day, during the week, when I was at work. Don't get me wrong - Kim Stanley Robinson spoke a couple of years ago, when Aussiecon was in Melbourne, and as I had whooping cough during the con, I was very glad I had been able to hear him speak at the MWF. Another time I heard Michael Robotham and other crime writers on a weekend panel. (I happened to be sitting next to his wife, who told me she missed his time as a ghostwriter, when she could hear about the celebrities whose "autobiographies" he used to write).

There just wasn't enough of it, and I really loved to go in the evening after work.

Ah, I remember the Harry Potter readings and trivia quizzes and the interview with Graeme Base! I remember going to hear Ben Bova and Robert Jordan slugging it out on stage, and stopping Kerry Greenwood to get my book signed.

Last year I went to one event, I think, and it was free, a book launch by Twelfth Planet Press.

I actually got a phone call from someone in the box office this year, who thought I'd been complaining about the prices on Twitter(I hadn't, though as she was there I did complain about the programming). She assured me you could still get discounts for five events(I think it was about fifty cents an event, or maybe fifty cents altogether.)

And one last complaint, though it's not connected with why I've been missing the Festival: you guys have invited a teenage blogger this year,for heavens' sake, but NEVER me with my ten books, including two Notables. Sigh!


Sean Wright said...

I think that's the problem with some writing festivals, the snobbery. I really enjoyed the AWF when MArgo was the guest of honor. Great to hear her an Michael Crummey talk.

Sue Bursztynski said...

It's not that they don't have anything I want to hear, they just don't have it when I can get there. And I get the feeling that there are a lot more speaking invites given to pretty young things with a first novel than to the likes of me.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Actually, given all the awards that Sea Hearts has now won, including the CBCA Award for Older Readers, I will be surprised if Margo doesn't get invited next time, probably during the day. Or perhaps not( see above about pretty young things with first novels). ;-)

Sean Wright said...

I see. The time issue is another thing that prohibits me from attending. That's why I like SF Cons, they tend to be over long weekends.

Sue Bursztynski said...

And you're not wrong about the snobbiness. I am still waiting for the day when the keynote speaker is a children's or genre writer. They're usually people who do "beautiful writing."

Lan said...

I haven't ever been interested in the writer's festival because of what I consider to be snobbery. I looked through the program this year and it seemed quite boring so I've never bothered. Maybe I'll go the day they decide to embrace self-publishing.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Then you'll be waiting a long time, Lan, and that would be a pity. I have a friend who refused to go to the World Science Fiction Convention when it was in Melbourne because there were no actors on the bill of fare. The thing is, actors do this as a job and quite reasonably demand payment and their fares paid and the convention doesn't have that sort of budget. So he missed out as you are missing out. If there wasn't anything that interested you, fair enough. Perhaps you might consider arranging a convention centred around self-published authors?