Another early morning, another long, very long, train ride, and another fun filled day planned for the Writer’s Festival. Arriving at the festival this morning I fully expected a large crowd now that the weekend had arrived, but it wasn’t too bad.
First session of the day was my second John Marsden one, where he discussed with Catherine Keenan his novel The South of Darkness, writing in general, as well as writing for kids and teenagers and being a teacher. This session was AMAZING! John spoke about education and children, making me realise so many astounding things adults consciously and unconsciously do around them, and he talked about his brilliant school Candlebark. I have wanted to go to Candlebark ever since it opened but at the time being in NSW while it was in Victoria was the challenge, that and I was two years older than their cut of year. Now, despite the fact I’ve been out of school almost ten years, this dream of going there remains. But I can wish for a do-over.
I managed to catch parts of another session over the speakers, Shaping Australia: How a Century of War Changed Us, whilst waiting in line for another and it was rather interesting the bits I caught. The discussion about the shift in the past twenty years between identifying as an ethnicity to identifying as a religion in particular, something I have noticed myself, was fascinating and the discussion on what it is people are looking for when they join something like ISIS. I didn’t hear all of it but what I managed to catch was interesting all the same.
The actually session I was entering was The Rise and Rise of YA: A Look at the Fastest-Growing Category in Fiction. Garth Nix talked with Laurie Halse Anderson, Sally Gardner, and Margo Lanagan about what makes YA so attractive to readers, publishers, and film makers. This session was packed in, clearly a popular session, and the discussion was enlightening about the sudden growth over the past ten years in YA and how adults are mostly responsible for this growth rather than young adults themselves.
Nix asked the panel a range of brilliant questions. The discussion ranged from having books banned, to whether a book consciously starts out as YA or not, what constitutes YA, and whether the market was flooded with too many YA books. He also made some excellent points saying that it is odd thinking that preventing people from reading about a certain topic [in a YA book] means it won’t happen to them, and how we are failing teenagers by not giving them literature. He also said something rather excellent; he said “[More than anyone else] Librarians know a lot more about YA, about everything really”. A lovely and true compliment about librarians that made me smile.
While only having two sessions I got so much out of both of these that I will be thinking about the things discussed in both for a long time yet. It was a stickerless day once more but highly rewarding nonetheless, and with one day of the festival to go, I am looking forward to finishing my SWF year with a final day of brilliant discussions about literature, writing, and all manner of things (and hopefully with a sticker).