Hey cHEwY gum gums

This morning, I ventured into the city to do my first writing festival session in a loooooong time. The Littlescribe Mini-Writing Festival is a week’s worth of interactive writing lessons with authors and a resident illustrator, James Foley. This had to be my biggest Zoom session ever, with schools across Australia tuning in.

I couldn’t help but wonder, is this going to be the way forward for writers festivals in the short term?

I was working with lower primary kids, working on dinosaur characters. I got a glimpse of what it was like to be interacting with a large group of students, with their smiley faces, tapping pencils and writing furiously. It’s the kind of visual feedback that gives me a buzz. It’s not the same as being in the theatre with a large group of kids from various schools, but it’s the next best thing.

I had the option to do the session remotely but I chose to be there with the tech team and organisers for some in-real-life feedback as well. The stand-up comedian side of me loves throwing in a few jokes for adults and teachers in the room too.

There are some benefits to having these virtual writers festivals. Schools don’t have to cough up for extra transport costs and liability forms in taking kids to a venue. There’s potential for remote schools to tune in and the audience reach is amazing. I had schools from WA popping in.

One downside is the lack of an ‘book selling/signing time.’ While Littlescribe did have a link to an online bookstore, there is nothing more immediate than having an actual bookseller at the venue. It’s more than just sales though (no really), it’s the meet and greet time with readers and kids, some who would just want to chat and get a bookmark signed.

So I guess we’ll see if there are any other organisations or schools who may want to go down this path with virtual festivals. If this is a way to see fans and get them excited about books, then I’m all for it.


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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