Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Perth Writers Festival 2017

"I read a book once"
I just returned from Perth Writers Festival, where I had three gigs: two panels for The Art of Reading, and a performance for My Brother is a Beast.

I arrived on Thursday, and heard the opening speech by Ben Rawlence: tales from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, from his City of Thorns.

Having spent a full two months with kids -- six weeks of school holidays then two weeks with them sick at home -- I then threw myself into writing: my next picture book, and my adult novel.

Scribbling at Milktooth cafe, Barrack St (tasty coffee, for the record)
I took an hour off to visit Cottesloe beach with my old mate, AAP bureau chief Greg Roberts.

Man and waves
Saturday morning, the chaps at Babylon Haircut, Murray St, gave me a haircut. (First time to a hairdresser in two decades.)

Ελληνική κούρεμα
I also had time to meet Julie Koh, author of the excellent Portable Curiosities, which I discussed on Radio National last year. Lovely also to chat to Annabel Smith, Kirsti Melville, Jenny Ackland, David Francis.

My first panel was "Narrative Desire", with Ken Liu and Susan Varga, moderated by Susan Wyndham. We spoke about childhood reading, the human psyche's narrative urges, our libraries, and reading in the future. (One of the biggest laughs: my response to Ruth's library, shelved by colour. Gorgeous, but JUST NO.) I also revealed that I'm not Batman. (And I would say that, wouldn't I.) I'm now reading Ken's fine The Paper Menagerie.

"I am Batman."
One snack in the green room later, and I was in "The Art of Reading" with Alberto Manguel and Jane Smiley, hosted by William Yeoman. This overlapped with "Narrative Desire", but also touched on the slipperiness of truth, being too late or early for books, discomfiting Dante, and more. Some entertaining disagreement, I hope.

Three grown-ups and a philosopher: WY, AM, DY, JS
I went straight from "The Art of Reading" to a children's event in UWA's gorgeous tropical grove. I held a beast quiz, showed the kids how to draw the beastly brother, then read aloud. A great crowd, with a warm atmosphere. (Literally but also figuratively.)

Many beasts, only one microphone
Many thanks to Katherine Dorrington, Maria Alessandrino and the rest of the PWF gang for making me so welcome.

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