Ballarat Writers and Illustrators Festival

 I’m pleased to report that this weekend was a great success for the Ballarat Writers’ and Illustrators’ festival for 2011. This year’s theme was ‘words and pictures’ with a focus on Children and Young Adult authors and illustrators. A dinner on the Friday night kicked off the festival in fine form. Dominic Brine from ABC Ballarat was the MC for the night with Maureen McCarthy  as the keynote speaker.  I was lucky enough to be on a table with authors Ebony McKenna, Nicholas Brasch, editor Catherine McCredie from Penguin Books and illustrator Dave Hackett. The mood of the room was inspiring as a range of professionals within the industry shared a few drinks, a fantastic 3 course meal, and countless stories.

It was hard to leave for the night, but my job the following morning was to kick off the festival by interviewing our keynote author Maureen McCarthy. This was intimidating; it was my first public interview, besides the work I do with Voice FM. I read Maureen’s novels when I was in high school and in the lead up to the festival I refreshed my memory by reading Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude get a life, Rose by Any Other Name and Careful What you Wish For. Her novels are great and there were plenty of questions that I could have asked, but I wanted to make sure that the audience got a lot out of it, whether they were novelists, illustrators or picture book authors. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed doing it.

By the end of the day my head was spinning with all the fantastic panels. There were 26 panellists and each panel was loaded full of tips, tricks and advice. One of the days highlights was the montage of images that Simon Swingler produced. He had been silently animating in the corner throughout the panel discussions and then produced a computer animated image of each of the panellists (I’d love to track down the one he did of me – it was fantasic.)

Ballarat Books was a fantastic sponsor, making sure a great collection of each authors work was available. It was a great festival and something I’m happy to have been involved in. The festival committee consisted of Alice Barker, Jill Blee and Nadine Cranenburgh, who should be congratulated.

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