griffith readers' festival wrap-up

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My time at the Griffith Readers' Festival was some of the most fun I've had as an author, but I must admit, I was daunted by a five hour drive. I left Canberra at 7am and arrived just four hours later - easy peasy, fabulous roads, stunning countryside views, hardly a single car on the road - just me and the radio and bucolic eye candy. Bliss.

Arriving earlier than expected, with plenty of time to spare, I took a walk around Griffith's sunshiny day, checking out the shops, the library and the stunning Collins Bookstore, run by Debbie Guertin - the ideas woman and central organiser of this inaugural Readers' Festival. What an amazing job she and the Library team and other volunteers have done. Oh - and Eric is responsible for the look of the Collins store (ie: gorgeous - check out the kids' section}.

At 1pm, around 200 students poured into the library {a fantastic space} and we went through my Australian Story presentation, followed by a trivia challenge. SO much fun. I have never had kids laugh so loud and call out answers so loud! As one adult said - maybe it's all that calling out to each other over grassy fields! - but they were absolutely fantastic.

During a short break post-presentation, I checked in at Griffith Apartments and had a quick shower - becoming obsessed with the stunning tiles in the bathroom - as you do.

 And, of course - could not resist a bit of reading . . .

Before dashing back to the library for my Beijing Tai Tai talk. I was expecting around two people to show so it was lovely to have around a dozen people that soon swelled to double. By the end of the session, we were sore from laughing - and one gal in particular {later found out it was author Karly Lane} had me in hysterics she was laughing so much.

Shortly after my book signing, people crowded into the library for the official opening. It was a thrill to see Wade High School Aboriginal Dance Group perform the story of the rainbow serpent - and this young fellow played the didgeridoo after only a few weeks learning cyclic breathing.

Next, there were some official speeches by library and Collins Bookstore staff - Pam from the library, Margaret, a local supporter and book fanatic {who spoke so eloquently about the importance of reading} and then Eric from Collins and lastly, Debbie, who really is responsible for this entire initiative - wonderful woman that she is.



We were then introduced to rural novelist Fiona McCallum who regaled us with great humour about her writing {and relationship!} journey.

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After some bubbles and nibbles and a chat with crazy talented illustrator Tony Flowers, we all hotfooted it to La Scala restaurant for some sensational food {and service} and an evening of laughter. I sat near author Karly Lane and her friend Judy, and author David Hanison and Penguin rep Rebecca. We must have gelled or something because we didn't stop laughing all night long. No wonder I slept so well that night! The lovely Andy Griffiths arrived a little late but was still happy to do his infamous bum drawing for my kids.

Day Two. After a lovely sleep, everyone met for breakfast - below we have Fiona McCallum and publicist Belinda, the hilarious David Hanison and his wife Sue, Debbie Guertin and son Lachlan, Andy Griffiths. Then on the right we have Tony Flowers, Rebecca from Penguin, Margaret, me, Judy and Karly.

Post-breakfast, we all nipped away to Pioneer Park on the hill. The team had created a beautiful set-up - and I was presenting my workshop in the Italian Museum (below) - an amazing building.

I had the most wonderful team of writers join me for my session - it's so heartening to see people so impassioned by books, reading and writing. When we took a short break, we wandered past the queue for Andy Griffiths' book signing - and he was still going when I finished my session . . . a grand total of 3 hours. He must have a bionic hand! How glorious it was to see so many kids turn up to meet him - and he's not only bionic, he's just the loveliest guy, too.

By 2pm, I was ready to hit the road for home . . . very, very reluctantly. I was so upset to miss seeing so many authors present, including Michael Radburn and Karly Lane - and how I wish I could have stuck around for the authors of Mangia! Mangia! and their cooking demo.

Congratulations to the entire team for such an incredible weekend of superlative entertainment. I know what it takes to put on this kind of show, and everyone did an amazing job. My warmest thanks to the entire library team for having me and making me feel so welcome, especially the lovely Rina and Christine, Pam and Amanda. Most especially, though, I want to thank Debbie Guertin, for not only making my visit a joy, but doing something incredibly special - the bringing together of people and books. You're a star. x

the main stage, between author sessions


Sue Whiting said...

Sounds like a wonderful festival. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Thanks, Tania.

Sue Whiting said...

Sounds like a wonderful festival. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Thanks, Tania.

Tania McCartney said...

Thanks, Sue! I loved every minute.

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Lovely post, Taz! I felt as if I was there enjoying it with you. :)

Karly Lane said...

Tania I had the BEST weekend!! It was so amazing to meet you and my sides are still aching from all the laughs! OMG!!!! and we have to catch up again cause I grabbed a copy of Beijing Tai Tai and I want it signed!!!! I don't think I will be able to control myself when I reach 'My love affair with the wall' chapter! Thank you for the amazing pleasure of making a new friend! xxxx Karly.

Tania McCartney said...

Gorgeous Karly! Right back at you, babe. Looking forward to our next catch-up.xx

Eliza said...

I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed the festival as much as I did. It was refreshing to hear so many accomplished writers give such great advice. I can definitely say that you left me feeling inspired after attending the workshop at the italian museum (even though I missed the first half!). Thanks so much for a great weekend! :)
- Eliza.

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