Insane in Brisbane!

Hey cHEwY gum gums!

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It’s been a wild week of fun and travelling, and it’s not slowing down with Write Around the Murray festival, right around the corner hehe…

I remember being at Brisbane Writers Festival, 10 years ago, as a bushy-tailed, bright-eyed author, fresh with Thai-riffic! and I was rocking the school sessions. I remember running out and having kids chase me around to the signing table. So it feels great to return to the same venues and making a new generation of kids laugh and rock in their seats. If that doesn’t make me feel old, then I don’t know what will haha.

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Brisbane hogs all the sun in Winter, and by Spring, it’s hitting Summer-like temperatures. You can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy. While the school sessions were fun, they were a couple of different things I was involved in. One was the Word Play Online session. When I first did this back in 2013, it was a simple Q and A session. But with the way kids consume this kind of video content, I treated it like a YouTube stream, screaming into the mic which made my assistant take her headphones off haha. Fuelled with a can of Monster Energy Drink, I blitzed through the hour.

I was also lucky to share the stage with one of my idols, Benjamin Law on a live recording of a pop culture podcast called Stop Everything. Jenna Guillaume and I were quizzed by Ben and Beverley Wang about our nerdy obsessions. An hour where I got to talk about pokemon, care bears and video games? Easy work haha. You can listen to it here.

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I also got to be involved in the adults program on the weekend, talking writing comedy for kids with Dave Hartley and Cal Wilson. Cal and I are now Pokemon Go friends haha, but it was her first writers festival and she was a natural. I know I wrote a whole blog post about comedians who write kids books and wonder if it’s a good thing but Cal is a superb addition to the kidslit scene. She’s humble, a genuine storyteller and I think her career in books is going to go gangbusters.

It was nice to bump into some old YA and kidslit author friends, even if it was briefly, such as Lili Wilkinson, AJ Betts, Sally Rippin, and Andrew McDonald. I also met Karen Foxlee for like 5 seconds…I came in the last 2 days of the schools program so it makes sense that authors are coming and going. Then there were MWF authors like Jenna and Will Kostakis who also got to experience cold and hot weather in one week (sooooo glad we finished up with warmer weather, but it was hard to pack for sure haha)

I did get a little starstruck meeting Jessica Townsend, author of the Nevermoor series (good thing I know her publicist so it was easy to get a personal meet and greet haha) and I got to see Kevin Rudd too hehe.

The end of my festival was a blast. I was on a panel with Cal, Ben, Bec Mac and Clementine Ford giving advice about people’s relationship problems. Yeah, random. But it was a bucket list kinda thing, to share the same stage with a high-profile writer like Clementine, and she was pretty cool to hang with too. I’m thankful to have these opportunities that transcend beyond schools or kids programs. It was nice to be a comedian in these scenarios and say stuff that I normally wouldn’t say haha.

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So yeah, Brisbane Writers Festival continues to hold a place in my heart. I survived the Melbourne/Brisbane double, bought 9 books and feel like I’ve just come down from the buzz. I will never take these festivals for granted, a week where you feel like a rock star 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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