Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer @ Melbourne Town Hall
The cold and drizzly weather could do nothing to dampen our rising spirits as Liv and I took the train into the city for this rare literary event. Jodi Picoult and daughter Samantha sharing the stage at Melbourne Town Hall to chat about their latest novel, Between the Lines. Not a small achievement, considering the idea for this intriguing tale was hatched by sixteen year-old Sammy when she was still a high school junior, then spending a couple of summers under her mother's tutelage to advance the story and hone her own writing craft. Between the Lines is a clever weave of fairytale and reality that explores what really happens to the characters who inhabit the books we read when we put them down. What do they do in there, while we're busy with our own lives instead of theirs? Do they have nothing to do but sit and wait for our return? Or are they busy too, getting on with their own lives in between acts?
Melbourne - the literary hub!
Melbourne is certainly the literary hub... so much coming up... so much to look forward to! Already on the short list of must do: Melbourne Writers Festival in August with a rich smorgasbord of delights to choose from, First Tuesday Book Club at top of list! Writing from History arriving soon at the Wheeler Centre. Then In Conversation with John Marsden at the Abbotsford Convent on August 15... and Jodi Picoult at Melbourne Town Hall tomorrow night. Ahhhh.... Melbourne!
Perfect day, Sunday, for a long ride. Nineteen km from Ringwood along the Eastlink trail to Jell's Park... and back... 38km in total of cool breeze against the adrenalin pulsing in rhythm with my thoughts... shaking out the cobwebs that sometimes cloud the mind. There is the delicious contradiction of green corridors on the other side of those imposing freeway walls... you could be forgiven for believing yourself to be out in the bush.. the sounds of traffic replaced by the chirruping birds, four-wheeled vehicles replaced by the two-wheel variety. No sign of road rage in the passing traffic; instead the on-coming traffic is relaxed, happy, respectful... and friendly... riders and walkers alike are eager to raise a hand or offer a
word in cordial greeting. Of course, there was the obligatory lunch and coffee at Madeline's cafe with friend and fellow writer, Joan O─an opportune breather in which to share our writing projects, the triumphs and the frustrations! After welcome refreshments it was back in the saddle to make the return journey. At day's end I am physically spent, but mentally refreshed, the long ride in the elements a welcome respite from the busyness of other duties and a reliable incubation space for newly seeded ideas angling for some attention... lovely!
I feel good… so good! I have the golden ticket! The first one issued,
I’m informed... a little piece of gold from this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival! I was mission-bound to have it, no matter the sleep deprivation—a plan to keep myself awake all night if need be, imbibing caffeine to boost my drooping eyelids, until The Age finally put out it’s Friday copy complete with MWF program, sometime tomorrow morning. But as serendipity and perhaps a small stroke of genius would have it, I ventured onto the MWF website this morning… EUREKA! The full digital program has been posted! And so I enquired within, exploring the categories by writer and then by date, until I fell upon it—The First Tuesday Book Club! It beckoned me in, and I dutifully followed its digital signposts, until I secured the little golden ticket to this year’s MWF episode. Each year so far I have failed in this quest. The time had clearly come to put a strategic plan in place. And it has yielded the desired results. I am in! Next step: Enquire Within—I will spend the remaining hours of the day scouring the rest of the program. What will it be? Keynotes & Big Ideas. The New Yorker. Australian Stories. Fiction & Poetry. Journalism & Creative Non-fiction. Rich pickings indeed. I cannot wait!
Only two more sleeps before full MWF program hits the streets, newspaper, Internet.... my screen! Expect rich pickings again this year... have already sampled several events in recent years... including The Whole Shebang, Getting Started, First Draft - Now What? and literary walking tour of old bookshops in the CBD precinct... followed by devine chocolate afternoon tea! Of course, listening to Bernhard Schlink deliver his keynote address - Guilt about the past - was an unsurpassed privilege at the 2009 festival. Witnessing Steven Amsterdam receive The Age Fiction Award and The Age Book of the Year - Things we didn't see coming - in the same year added that extra dimension of hope for emerging writers such as myself! I recall in particular, his grateful acknowledgement of publisher, Sleepers, for having picked him up after around 17 rejections... so Operation Enduring Hope is picking up an accelerated pace as we head into this year's festival, on the prowl for exciting opportunities to boost my own writing and publishing journey.