Showcase Festival: Morris Gleitzman and Garth Nix

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

As part of the Showcase Festival of Australian Children's Literature last week, I had the privilege and joy of meeting both Garth Nix and Morris Gleitzman, and hearing them speak on their work.

Garth paid visit to Dickson Library with a sensational talk on his Writing Fantasy journey, which was eye-opening, entertaining and very funny. Garth is a gracious and warm speaker, most willing to share his creative learnings--and the adults and kids in the audience were held in quiet rapture as he spoke.

I loved learning about Garth's very first book--The Coin Shower (written at age 6). It was 'self-published' (ie: stapled together on yellowing paper). Also loved hearing about an early book called Very Clever Babies' First Reader--and was aimed at babies 3 to 6 months. The next book in the series was The Clever Babies' Guide to the Greenhouse Effect. Too cool.

I also loved hearing about his delusional author leanings as a young writer. He was convinced his first book, The Ragwitch (1991) would sell squillions and he could give up his day job and it would change his life. It didn't. One of his 'good' friends said he might just be a one-book wonder so Garth worked to prove him wrong.

Garth's first Sabriel book was a success but a slow burner. This nevertheless didn't stop him from proving he wasn't a one-book wonder. Such a lesson in author persistent, Garth now has too many successful books to list. He said it was a good thing that he didn't know when to quit (though he also intimated he was perhaps too dumb to quit--may I be so dumb).

If you missed the talk, you can see it on YouTube here

That same afternoon, I attended a writing workshop run by Morris Gleitzman at the ACT Writers Centre.

Like Garth, Morris has a wickedly dry sense of humour (which shows in his books) and shows a deep generosity to other writers, sharing all he has learned in his long and illustrious literary career.

It was fantastic to be able to bounce ideas of Morris, to ask him questions and to learn about his own writing processes and what he thinks 'works' -- mostly in the genre of junior fiction writing, but much of what he shared could be used cross-genre.

It was interesting to note that although both writers handed out stacks of writing advice, both said there is no 'best' way to write and that authors should alway take writing advice with a grain of salt.

There's more to come for the Showcase Festival this week. Check out the schedule below for some more sensational, bookish events. I hope to see you at some of them! Click the posters below for more info on how to book.


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