Hey cHEwY gum gums
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since my first Sydney Writers Festival (thanks to Alice Pung and The Growing Up Asian anthology), and this year was another fantastic festival. I had so much fun being the MC again for the Primary school days, hyping up kids who are already keen for books is very easy. More priceless moments working with my heroes such as Morris Gleitzman and Jeff Kinney. Especially Morris G, since I grew up reading his books hehe.
I also got to meet new authors. I learn a lot from seeing other authors, and wow did I learn a lot at this year’s festival. You don’t need to be shouty loud and throw lollies at kids to get their attention. You just need to be authentic. Everyone on stage at the festival were genuine in their love of books and writing/illustrating.
Katrina Nannestad was great talking about her writing journey. The two international guests were out of this world. Chris Riddell was in fine form, drawing live on stage. Not only for his own session, but for Morris G and my intro too. Which meant I got a few cool illustrations haha. Now as an illustrator, all you gotta do is just draw up on stage and you draw in the audience with wonder(pun intended). I saw Jeff do it at this Wimpy Kid event to great effect too, even doing his cartoons blindfolded. Chris takes it a new level, drawing as he speaks as if his thoughts actually transform into pictures. It really gave Morris G’s session an extra element and Chris really did take us on a great ride as he delivered some punchy pictures.
A.F Harrold is probably my favourite, mostly because he’s a BFP (Big Friendly Poet) and his adult stand up comedy skills were in full effect for his shows. All of his shows were mostly different each day, and he just rips into the audience doing random things and saying even more zany poems and words. What I love about Ashley is how irrelevant his session is. I usually do everything except mention my books for most of my talks, but he takes it a whole new level. I love how he flexes on stage, confident in knowing that he will deliver nonsense and deliver it well. I also got to join in on the fun, going on stage popping party poppers and another time, pretending to be a crocodile.
Both Ashley and Chris are seasoned veterans, and it gives me hope that I can continue to be as wacky as I can in years to come. You don’t have to make any sense. As long as kids laugh and listen to your voice, they’ll be drawn to your books. Maybe haha.
Catch you on Twitter and Instagram @oliverwinfree as I travel to Corowa and Melbourne over the next 2 weeks, there will be burgergrams!