Today brought about the last day of not just my festival experience, but the festival altogether. It was also family day so it was so great to see little kids running around, having their faces painted, lining up to get books signed by great children’s authors like Andy Griffith, or just enjoying the range of activities that were being offered. With three sessions today I was half pumped to see what the day had in store, half struggling after three very long and intense days of long train rides, early mornings, and late nights, but excitement always trumps exhaustion.
My first session was Dangerous Women and it was an amazing panel, Natasha Mitchell discussed with Kellinde Wrightson, Xanthe Mallet, and Caroline Overington the women in history who have been dealt a raw deal and possibly judged unfairly for crimes they may not have committed and why a few of them were given such a rough time. The panel was engaging and lively and it was wonderful to see a passionate debate between the women as strong opinions and thoughts came to a head.
Keeping it Real: Realistic Issues in Teen Fiction was another excellent and invigorating panel. Davina Bell spoke to Laurie Halse Anderson, Melina Marchetta, Barry Jonsberg, and Erin Gough about realist fiction and how it has quietly been thriving in the background behind the more hyped up genres of YA like dystopia and paranormal, and currently making a great comeback. The ‘John Green Phenomenon’ was discussed and Laurie had an insightful opinion about why that is, this being an example of the patriarchy in action. She said while a lot of books have been written by women, some commercially successfully, it wasn’t until a white male commercially successful author wrote realist fiction making it popular. None of this was meant in a bad way, Laurie being a personal friend of his, but it does show how the patriarchy can make something that women have been doing, successfully doing, for years suddenly make it seem like a brand new and wonderful thing. And like Laurie I have nothing against John Green, and while she has a valid point, his popularity has its benefits in bringing to light other great authors and realist young adult novels.
My last event of the day was the long awaited TeenCon2015. Hosted by Penguin Teen Australia, eleven Australian publishers discussed their best books to look for in the near future, as well as their best books to read now. Book reviewers also got a say as four bloggers/vloggers discussed their beginnings and their motivations for blogging and book reviewing, and they discussed their favourite books and series, as well as strategies when it comes to writing reviews.
The publishers also participated in the long awaited Book Boyfriend Battle with a number of men from various YA books being sledged and praised until the final outcome being that Dimitri Belikov from The Vampire Diaries was the ultimate Book Boyfriend. It was an exciting battle, many of the publishers got into it with songs, and a lot of passion, and Felicity from Penguin Teen was as always her usual infectiously joyful and entertaining self. At the end of TeenCon we were also lucky enough to get a swag bag with a lucky dip of books from a range of publishers. I managed to get a nice selection of five in mine, a few I was already looking forward to reading.
AND! After four days of waiting to be surveyed and get my sticker prize, in the end my friend SITTING RIGHT BESIDE ME got surveyed instead, and while I already had plans to steal her sticker upon completing the survey, she didn’t even get given one! Why no sticker Sydney Writer’s festival? Why no sticker?
But, lack of sticker aside, I had an awesome four days. So many panels with so many bright minds and brilliant discussions on topics I love, and topics I didn’t know I would love as much as I did. I officially call this year a success and I already look forward to seeing the line up for next year.