Somerset, oh, Somerset.

25th March 2015
Nona & Me, On writing, Public events

My first writers’ festival – the Somerset Celebration of Literature. What a blast. So many great experiences crammed in to three days. Like the total newbie I am in this YA writing world, I went to see as many authors talk about their books as I could.

What? Oh yes, of course, I was there to talk about Nona & Me. And I honestly loved talking to students about how I came to live in Yirrkala, and about writing for television and how I used the techniques I’d learned from that to write the novel. But as soon as I’d finished doing that each day, buzzing with post-presentation adrenaline, I’d grab a quick bite to eat and go and see other writers’ presentations.

I wanted to see them all, but of course I couldn’t, so here are a few things I learned from the talks I attended (hope the authors don’t mind me sharing!!):

Melissa Keil creates digital collages of what her characters look like – their clothes, their accessories, their style.

Christine Bongers thinks one thing that ALWAYS makes a good story is if someone has a secret. She asked a group of students: “Do you want to know a secret?” …and they literally all leaned in…

Luka Lesson can hold a crowd in the palm of his hand…and if you ask him to freestyle, he will…

Ellen van Neerven writes poetry and still isn’t sure her incredible award-winning book Heat & Light fits together as a complete novel…

James Moloney has written so many books they cover an entire table…and occasionally eavesdrops on his teenage daughter’s conversations for inspiration!

Sarah Ayoub grew up attending a monocultural Lebanese school and was incredibly affected by the Cronulla Riots and the following (and continuing) negative stereotyping of Lebanese Australians…prompting her to write Hate Is Such A Strong Word.

John Ahern travelled around the world with his wife and two kids and told stories that were equally inspiring and terrifying!

Special thanks to the Somerset Team for inviting me to attend, and to all the other authors for making it so fun. And to my ‘elves’ Lara and Anneliese for making sure I didn’t get lost!

With Luka Lesson and Ellen Van Neerven – we were the panel for a session for adults about crossing cultural borders using writing…hearing these two amazing writers speak about their experiences was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me.

With my two helpers from Somerset College – Lara and Annaliese. They made sure I got to my presentations on time, introduced the sessions and provided fantastic all-round moral support.

Book signings…

And an action shot – me talking about looking for guku (bush honey) in Yirrkala with our Yolngu family.






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