'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 26 August 2010

My Book Week Experience

Welcome to my Book Week journey in the ACT! Relatively new to the Book Week scene (2008 was my first year in Beijing and 2009 my first year in Australia), it was so much fun to be welcomed into local schools to read my books and talk about writing and publishing. I hope you enjoy this insider's view!

Book Week 2010 - a typical visiting author day

7am Wake. Loo. Prep breakfast. Check over bag for 187th time. Laptop? Check. USB stick with powerpoint presentation? Check. Actually, better check pres is on stick AGAIN. Fire up laptop, insert USB, triple check powerpoint pres is on USB. Check. Close down laptop. Copies of my books? Check. Book signing pen (hey, I always live in hope)? Check. Street directory? Vital. Did I put USB stick back in bag? Yes. Head screwed on? Sort of.

7.15am Dress. Run around madly because I forgot to pack my own lunch AND my kids' lunch. Call to husband to make sandwiches. Take deep breaths to counterbalance sheer excitement and nervousness. No matter how many school visits you do, there's still butterflies in tummy.

7.34am Change. Redo hair. Wonder if heels are too high to be standing on all day, change to flats. Figure I'll be doing some sitting as must read books. Change back to heels.

7.39am Scoff down breakfast. Run to computer and check emails, send a few, check post for Kids Book Review is scheduled.

7.55 See kids off for school bus. Pack car with bags, books, props, laptop bag, food, water. Be tempted to check USB stick again. Resist. Open street directory. Lay schedule with schools and contact details on top of street directory. Start engine... Go!

3.47pm Take a pause. Sit in car for a few minutes with head reeling. Eat something. Drink something (only water!!!). Smile and laugh to myself and reminisce. Remember the faces of the kids, the lightbulb moments, the laughter, the questions...

"...where do you get your ideas from?"

"...my mum is an author, too."

"...how long did it take you to write this book?"

"...I've been to Hong Kong. And the south of France. And Africa." (lucky you!)

"...how much money do you make?" (my reponse? "Enough for an occasional jam sandwich.")

"...who is the boss? you or the illustrator?"

"...how many books have you sold?"

"...what's your favourite book you've written?"

"...what other authors do you like?"

"...how do you come up with the ending?"

"...my cat coughed up a furball, and then he ate it."

"...is it hard to write a book?"

"...do you like writing books?"

And my personal favourite...

"...do you get writer's block or mental breakdowns?"

My answer? Yes.

Follow up question...

"...how do you deal with them?" All this adorable kid needed was a pipe, a pair of argyle socks and some slippers!

4.12pm Sigh gratefully at how much I love speaking to kids and how utterly clever and gorgeous they are. Grab books and water bottle and head in to St Monica's PS for the Children's Seminar. Meet some absolutely gorgeous, talented, warm and funny (funny ha ha) authors who share my passion for children's literature and write some of our country's finest books and published works. Natter endlessly.

Bernadette Kelly and I signing certificates for the kids

Bernadette and I having a laugh. It wasn't the only one.

Bernadette, Me, Tracey Hawkins, Christina Booth, Pauline Deeves

4.40pm Spread out around the library to our 'stations' where we meet with rounds of kids every 15 minutes, chatting about our work and about writing and reading. The children range in age from around 8 through to mid-teen. Be fascinated and enthralled by the talent and passion of these children. Sign some autographs (yes, you read it right!). Too cute.

The kids get ready to rumble! (with authors and illustrators)

6.30pm Head to a nearby Thai restaurant for dinner where other CBCA members join us for lots of laughter and lively literary discussion. We are also joined by Stephanie Owen Reeder whose book Lost! A True Tale from the Bush was shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award and nominted an Honour Book in the Junior Judges Project.

Illustrator Christina Booth was also shortlisted for the Book of the Year Awards this year with her beautiful book Kip, which became an Honour Book.

Back L to R: Christine Aldred, Stephanie Owen Reeder, Christina Booth, Ingrid Jonach, Bernadette Kelly
Front L to R: Tania McCartney, Pauline Deeves, Tracey Hawkins, Krista Bell

9.15pmish What a glorious Book Week experience. We wrapped up dinner and I drove Krista back to Kingston (after getting partially lost, needing instruction from a non-Canberran! thank goodness I had Krista in the car with me!) before heading home for a hot shower and a solid night's sleep, dreaming all the while of smiles, great conversation, fabulous fun and... books.

The perfect day.