What does it mean to have an imagination on fire? Is it never having a dull thought, or boring words but rather an array of wordsmithing skills that can polished until they are gleaming? Is it going beyond the expected to find a voice that is unique, individual and surprising?
Then there are all the practicalities. How to go beyond writing and the the craft itself, to finding an agent, a book that is bound, self published, or published by others, and funded maybe even by a grant of some sort.
There there is the way in which writers present- that is an issue that is now going all sorts of directions, multi arts, ebook, blog and online platforms. And what are the ethics of it all! With online bullying rife how can you ensure young readers are not being ‘corrupted’.
What constitutes great and classic literature versus the airport trashy read? One of the most engaging discussions of the festival was the Book club, sponsored by ABC, which featured Journalist Gavin King, ABC’S Fiona Sewall, Gretel Killen and Mayor Val Schier. It was chaired by Angela Murphy. They discussed each of the following books in some detail – Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, by Stieg Larsson, Lloyd Jones’s Mr Pip and a Tim Winton’s novel Cloud Street. Gavin felt Tim’s characterisations were a little boring whilst others said he was ‘gentle with his characters’ even if they did not have admirable traits.
The whole panel, Gretel Killeen, Val Schier, Gavin King, Fiona Sewell
The discussion was on fire with a spirited discussion of Winton’s artistry and capturing to the Australian vernacular – with some for him and his beautiful prose (Fiona) and others seeing him as rather long winded (Gretel and Gavin). Only Mayor Val Schier, enjoyed Stieg, with the others finding him a terrible writer. Although there was a discussion of whether something had been lost in translation by Collin’s bookseller. His depictions of women were not appreciated by some of the panel, whilst later an audience member was to say he was a typical Norweigan man. There was some discussion about how one of his characters was based on Pipi Longstocking, which Gretel was disgusted with. Also Eat, Pray, Love now a movie, although not up for discussion officially got a canning from Gretel for it’s depiction of women.
Mr Pip was universally praised as one of those books that makes you cry on the public transport on the way to work! As many of the audience were unfamiliar with the book, they plot was shared but it was the deftness of the prose that was also praised. The book was written by a journalist, perhaps accounting for the economy of the words. Why are some books more popular than others!
The final conclusion of the book club was that everyone should read! It opens doors and creates opportunities.
I will continue my reports of the festival in another post, as a long post might not lead you down the READING path. Just to give you a teaser in posts to come there is the wit and vitality of the festival dinner, some multi media arts Mapping the Heart that was truly astounding, meeting and networking opportunities (I meet someone who I haven’t seen for fourteen years) and of course my new mates the WINQ writers and Jacque Duffy. We had a ball and our conversations about literature and life were as interesting as the Book Club. I love North QLD literary community.
Gretel gets her point across, with a bit of humour, passion and some keen intelligence.
(c) words and images June Perkins