Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sydney Writers Festival 2011!

I went today, after almost forgetting about it (sinful, I know), with my lovely Grandma. I went to two events, and I'm here to tell you what I thought of them, and what helpful hints I will be storing away for future use.

So You Think You Can Write: International Edition

This was a fascinating event, where anyone in the audience could pitch their book idea - any book idea - and have the pitch critiqued by Barabray Rozycki, UK literary scout; Lynne Missen (Penguin), Canadian publisher; Alexis Washam (Crown Trade Paperbacks US), US senior editor. Lenny Ann Low was the referee.

As I don't consider myself to be at the stage where I need to worry about a pitch just yet, I thought I'd go along and take note what the panelists had to say*. This is what I scrawled in my notebook:

  • Comparisons are good. For example, "Tamora Pierce, crossed with Margo Lanagan."
  • If it is for children or YA, giving an age group is recommended.
  • You need to introduce a character who the audience will identify with. It's no use just to talk about the setting without providing the reader with someone to follow.
  • Concentrate on the story. Again, try not to delve too much into the setting without revealing the central story.
  • Providing a character and a moral dilemma are good, to hook the reader in.
  • Keep it simple. 

Culture Clash

This event was a fun one, being an interview with the author Amara Lakhous by Anne Maria Nicholson. His novel, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio has recently been translated into English and the interview was mostly about that. Lakhous grew up in Algeria and moved to Italy in 1995. Some of the inspiration for the novel came from his experience as an immigrant in Italy. It's a humourous novel from many different points of view, set in an apartment block where one of the tenants has just died. The themes are (to me) truth, discrimination and diversity. With these themes, some of which I am trying to explore in my current WiP, it sound like a book that I very much want to read. Immigration is also an issue relevant to Australia, so I'm glad it has been translated into English, for us Aussies to read. We might find something to identify with there as well as something to learn from. 

And would you look at that paragraph! What a block. Anyway, that's me, so I hope you learned something new or now have a new book on your list to read.

*Unfortunately I didn't write down who said what, so I apologise. 

Descriptions paraphrased from the Sydney Writers Festival website. 

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