Phew! Well, I didn’t waste a minute of that long weekend. Where did it go? Oh, yeah, paddling on a lilo down the Yarra with some of my favourite people on the planet, immersing myself in the fantastical Mythical Market hosted by Golden Owl Events in Ferny Creek (Melbourne), and getting my fix of all the best Aussie YA goss at the inaugural YA Day. Too much for one blog post? Damn straight, and too bad. I crammed it into one weekend, so I have no qualms about cramming it all into one post.
Firstly, Warburton. That dear, rustic country town snuggled on the eastern edge of Melbourne. There isn’t much to say other than ‘thank you’ to each resident and custodian for being so welcoming to us tourists who come and take over like we own the place for a few days each year, and then brag about it to the rest of the world as if we actually had anything to do with making the town so perfect.
I got my river fix. I really needed my river fix. I needed to take the time to remember why I wrote a novel around the concept of a life-giving River. The water carried me along in all its frenetic glory, journeying through twists and tumbles, somnolent stretches of peace as well as painfully rocky rapids. It was shallow at times, deeper than expected at others. Yeah. You get it (I knew you had a literary streak hiding somewhere). Watching my family float by was one of those moments of joy that I’ll keep holding on to. They looked about as relaxed as I had ever seen them. At least until the rapids.
The next day was spent up in the hills, shaded by towering Mountain Ash which almost made the 33 degree heat bearable. I shared a stall with three of my fellow Odyssey authors at the first Mythical Market hosted by Golden Owl Events. The day was a massive success with a terrific turnout, and the patrons were just brilliant! So many glorious costumes worn despite the heat, and the market had such a great feel to it. It was colourful, friendly, and full of smiling faces. I adore it when kids can dress up alongside adults. What a great message that sends to the next generation: wear what you want, have fun with it. Don’t ever feel self-conscious about your appearance, or feel that you need to dress according to your age/gender/demographic. And yes, adults like buying pretty and creative things too. And books. Happily, they enjoy buying books. There were so many things I loved for sale there, and so many interesting people to meet!
Sunday was the day that I got to stop being an author for a little while and just enjoy being a fan of YA stories. I am so grateful to Sarah and Alex at The YA Room for creating a space where I can talk about all my favourite books without having to feel as though I need to ‘earn’ my way into the discussion. There’s a reason I write YA stories. I adore them. I believe in the power of them. I want to fan-girl about Holly Black’s new book alongside others who love it as much as I do.
The day was a terrific showcase of book bloggers, BookTubers, Australian YA authors and industry specialists. Each and every panellist was easy to listen to, relatable, knowledgeable and entertaining, and I walked away with a real sense that the future of YA fiction in Australia is in very good hands. This community is so supportive of each other, and passionate about what they do. I am so proud to be a part of it.
So in the spirit of a blogger who hasn’t had time to prepare enough original content but knows she should post something worthwhile, here are my Top Five Tips I gained from today’s expert panellists and hosts:
- Every writer should spend time setting up an ergonomic writing space. You’ll be spending a lot of time sitting at a computer, so take care of your posture. Very wise advice.
- Read as much as you can during your gap year, while you have the time (I never had one of those. Perhaps I should pencil one in for some time this decade…)
- If you want to work in the publishing industry, be prepared to be overworked, underpaid and undervalued. So why is it so hard to get into? Because despite all this, the people who are in the industry love where they are and don’t want to leave. Love the industry – just understand that the industry may not love you back to the same degree.
- When you go out for lunch, remember to take your name tag off. However, don’t do what I did and stick it to the front of your Kindle so you can use it again. Time for a new Kindle cover.
- Churros make a perfectly acceptable lunch. Sarah said so. I trusted her. She was right.
Many thanks again to Sarah and Alex at The YA Room, and to all the panellists and sponsors for making the day so much fun. I came away with my beautiful signed copy of Michael Pryor’s Gap Year in a Ghost Town. And also Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. I bought them to use as prizes in an upcoming giveaway (watch this space!). The long train ride home was a close call, but I am happy to say that both books are still in pristine condition. No sneaky peeks, no bent spines. Good thing I had my Kindle with me. Skinned cover and all.