Bloggers. Readers. Authors. Teacher librarians. Book sellers. It doesn’t matter who we are, we’re all united in our love of books, which was this year’s takeaway from the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. It’s always warming to see such love and support for authors and what they do, and the festival is always a highlight in my yearly blogging calendar.
My festival highlights are below:
MELINA MARCHETTA – Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
My weekend started out with Melina Marchetta’s session on her new adult book, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil. Featuring a Muslim character and talking about the impacts of bombings and terrorism in a family’s life, she broached the tough topics and talked about the importance of representation. Having written a variety of series in her career, Melina doesn’t shy away from the tough topics, and she wanted to write a book that highlighted racism and the problems of the world today.
I was so teary when I met her at the signing table, her first book, Looking for Alibrandi helped me get through high school. Moving to Australia with my Chinese family, there were no other books at the time featuring a teenager fitting into school while going home to her multi-cultural family. She’s as amazing, humble and inspiring in person as she is through her words.
JAY KRISTOFF – Nevernight
If you haven’t read Nevernight yet, be prepared for endless book pushing from me – 2016 hasn’t ended yet, and I’m pleased to say it’s my favourite novel of the year (find out why here). Hearing Jay Kristoff talk about his inspiration behind Nevernight (his love for ancient Rome, old heavy fantasy reads but also with a bit of humour) and his writing process was even more awesome in person. He wanted to write about a sympathetic assassin character, who is a villain but somehow remains sympathetic to the audience. He also wanted to inject humour and backstory into the story through his footnotes.
Nevernight is as bloody, brutal and violent as you’ve heard, and it also features a lot of racy sex scenes. Jay thought it was important to not gloss over these sex scenes, because “the idea of sex and violence in society is completely out of whack,” which is something he wanted to address in his novel.
JAY KRISTOFF & AMIE KAUFMAN – Illuminae
If there’s any writerly duo that is more entertaining that these two – you’d be hard pressed to find them. I loved all the jokes and the insight into the Illuminae writing process during this session – it was the highlight of the festival for me! They first met over filling in impossibly difficult paperwork, and then Amie had a dream about writing a book with Jay and they got together to brainstorm it. It started out from chat logs and just them two having fun without ever thinking it was going to get published. But then it was a hit!
What I love about Illuminae, is that there’s a whole team of people behind it to fact check – spaceship designers, botanists, hackers, and most recently an astrophysicist. Jay and Amie have visited the movie studio of Illuminae and although they don’t have much direction over the script (because that’s up to the filmmakers), they said it’s looking to be awesome.
We can look forward to more shenanigans, spaceships and sci-fi space opera in Gemina, and many early reviewers have already said that they love it more than the first book. I CANT WAIT GUYS. October 18, 2016 – mark it in your diaries.
JUSTINE LARBALESTIER – My Sister Rosa
When you think about psychopaths, you often think about mass murderers – but perhaps the scariest thing about it, is that there are psychopaths who live among us. That’s what Justine Larbalestier wanted to explore in My Sister Rosa – psychopaths living dormant in society. What’s even scarier is that it’s inspired by the real life psychopaths – whether that’s an ex, a friend, or a stranger who just couldn’t exhibit any empathy or emotion. “Because psychopaths have no remorse or limits to their behaviour, a psychopath always wins.”
Writing from a male perspective, Che was actually quite a challenging character perspective to write about, but Justine thought it was important to explore the cycle of abuse from his little sister.
One of my favourite things about the novel is how it featured diversity so naturally – and that’s just what people in New York look like. Each and every one of her characters in My Sister Rosa could be found on the streets. As someone who has lived in New York herself, she thought it was important to represent the vibrantly diverse landscape of the neighbourhood. Check out my review for the book here.
CAROLINE KEPNES – Hidden Bodies
Having flown in from LA, I was super lucky to meet Caroline Kepnes and to hear about her inspiration for Hidden Bodies. Joe is noble psychopath, if there ever was one, and he actually believes by killing people that he’s doing them a favour. As Hidden Bodies is set in LA, it’s actually inspired by some of the outlandish personalities she’s had to encounter in the movie making business. But in this sequel, Joe explores what it means to find love, to explore a career and a greater sense of purpose.
The whole series was planned from the start, with Caroline wanting to name the three books – You. Love. Me. which gives some interesting insight into what we’ll encounter in the next book. She’s currently working on her new series, a supernatural thriller about unrequited love and about missing people. Caroline is so lovely and bubbly in person – you’d never guess she writes about psychopaths!
MEETING DAVID LEVITHAN & KIRSTY EAGAR
Outside of these sessions, I also met up with Kirsty Eagar of Summer Skin, whose sessions I couldn’t attend due to the overlapping sessions. It was so lovely catching up and talking about writing, blogging, feminism and the festival. Sometimes you meet someone and you just click and meeting Kirsty was definitely a highlight of the festival.
I also got to meet David Levithan, Jaclyn Moriarty and more authors at the Love YA Festival at Brisbane Libraries! My full recap of the festival will be linked here when it goes up.
With Kirsty Eagar
Here’s all the books I got signed over the course of the festival – I had a suitcase on Day 2! Who said bookworms don’t get any exercise?
I had so much fun hanging out, fangirling with and meeting up with other bloggers and readers during the Brisbane Writer’s Festival! We had such a fantastic YA line-up this year and I’m currently suffering from post festival blues. If you ever get the chance to attend a festival, I completely recommend it! I’ll definitely remember this experience always.
GIVEAWAY – Signed Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
You might have noticed THREE copies of Summer Skin in the picture above – Yes, one of them is for a lucky reader of Happy Indulgence! Everyone must read this awesome kickass feminist read (Review here)!
Giveaway is open internationally and ends 2 October 2016. Shipping may be by ground mail.
Verified entries only, winner will be contacted via email and announced on the widget. No cheating – we can tell!
Have you been to a writer’s festival before?