This weekend I’m off to my second Brisbane Writers Festival! I’ve got a terrible head cold but, slightly delirious, I loaded my bag with books for authors to sign and trooped in to the State Library of Queensland for Friday’s sessions.
9.30am–10.30am: The Future Was Yesterday! (STORY+)
Aren’t we all sick of talking about the “future of books / media / publishing / storytelling”? Digital media has been playing a central role in the way we make and share stories for decades now. A top panel of digital thinkers, writers and innovators discuss whether our relentless focus on devices, data, platforms and discoverability has obscured something more essential—that people are hungry for stories and technology can connect them.
Featuring: Tom Uglow, Mike Jones, Naomi Alderman, Chris Currie | MC: Donna Hancox
Despite some ongoing audio issues, this panel offered some fascinating tidbits. What struck me most was the need for authors to diversify. Audiences seek out cross-media experiences, often without thought as to who is providing the experience. It’s up to authors to push themselves (and publishers) further in order to engage their audience in more than just the print medium.
10.45am-12pm: Why interaction matters in the stories we tell (STORY+)
Novelist, games writer and transmedia specialist Naomi Alderman explores the cultural impact of interaction in narrative art forms, the increasing role of audiences as participants, and how it is changing the way we tell and share stories.
This session was, as Naomi dubbed it, a look at her 15 favourite video games and their storytelling methods. Most I had never heard of, and some I know about from my brother’s avid gaming habits. Despite the topic being completely out of my realm of expertise, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Naomi’s love for games and storytelling is infectious, and I left with plenty of notes and suggestions to expand my brother’s (and my) collection.
There was a third part to STORY+ but I ended up missing it because I was determined to secure a signature from Emily Rodda, whose books made up so much of my childhood. I did get my signature, which was one of the last before the lines were cut off so she could catch her flight.
Afterwards, I joined the never-ending line for Cassandra Clare and Holly Black’s signatures. By the time I got to the front, Holly had started walking down the line to sign copies of The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet. I’m so glad I had a chance to read one of her standalone books so I could compliment her on her writing in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
Then it was my turn to meet Cassandra Clare. The sheer volume of fans (mostly school kids on excursion) meant I only had time for one signature, which completed my signatures in The Iron Trial. I’m seeing Cassandra Clare in a few more sessions over the weekend, though, so I’m hoping to get all my copies of The Shadowhunter Chronicles signed.
I had some time before my next session, and spent it checking out the Feros Care As I Age Wall. At two metres high and 12 metres long, the chalkboard is ‘intended to ignite thought and conversation about getting older’.
There were some thought-provoking entries, but my favourite by far was the one that reads: As I age … I will like turtles.
Above it, an incredulous onlooker has written YOU DON’T LIKE TURTLES?!
2pm-3pm: The Rosie Effect
In the highly anticipated follow up to The Rosie Project, Joy Lawn joins Graeme Simsion in conversation about the next chapter of Don Tillman’s life and journey towards fatherhood.
I loved this session. Graeme Simsion is an incredible public speaker and his connection with his characters and their motivations seems so admirably effortless. He kept the audience laughing and his readings from The Rosie Effect made me want to run out and buy it immediately. I’m seeing Graeme for another signing on Sunday, so I may have another book for him to sign by then.
I was first in line for Graeme’s signing, and he was equally personable one-on-one. He was happy to add his signature to my Out of Print Library Card tote bag, and thrilled when I had a red pen for him to use.
One day down, two to go! Hopefully my cold will back off so I can enjoy the rest of my sessions and breathing at the same time.