Hey cHEwY gum gums

The last time I was involved in the Sydney Writers Festival school days was back in 2012, and it was a major highlight. To reach close to 5000 kids in one week is huge! So it’s been a delight to come back and host the school days week. It’s the closest I’ve ever get to being a rock star or hosting an award show, as you step on stage and the crowd goes nuts haha.

What I admire is the array of authors and illustrators on show. I always learn something from every author I see, so here are some interesting tidbits.

Starting with Lauren Child who’s ultra famous for her books such as Charlie and Lola. She creates those picture books from scratch and it was cool seeing her do it live on stage. Lauren’s very focused about each of her works, and I got that from her influences for characters like Ruby Redfort.

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Next up was Matt Stanton. I first met him at Somerset College with his wife. I love seeing another funny writer making kids laugh. Matt’s also a killer illustrator, so his ability to create characters from kids’ responses is pretty cool. It keeps things fresh and also on your toes. Duckit Trump anyone?

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Kate DiCamillo was a gem. She sounds like Ellen haha, has the same sense of dry wit as well. I was a little in awe at first, but Kate really has a knack of making you feel comfy. So I had fun bringing her onto stage. Her presentation was inspiring, one key message: Never give up.

She didn’t hold back telling kids that her first manuscript was rejected over 400 times. But she was hoping for that YES! and it happened. I was reminded never to take this writing journey for granted. I had my fair share of NOs for a few years between cHEwY creation 4 and 5, so I’m humbled enough to know that each new book really is a blessing.

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Jack Heath also continued the inspiring authors theme. His presentation was more like a kids TED talk, talking sense and kicking butt at the same time. He told kids to push themselves if they wanted to write. Really make an effort to sit down and write. And always test yourself. It felt like a fitness video haha, but it made me want to write haha.

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So 4 different authors, 4 different presentations. That’s the beauty of schools days at SWF. Every kid would have got something from one, if not all the authors. I sure did haha 🙂



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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