Monday, 30 May 2011

Reading Matters

The Reading Matters Conference, held in Melbourne every two years, is a celebration of youth literature. It's also a wonderful opportunity to meet people, renew acquaintances and generally immerse yourself in books and be with book people.

International guests Cassandra Clare and Rebecca Stead shared insights about their research process. Warning: helping Cassandra Clare research has the potential to get you into BIG trouble! Others talked about landscape or setting as character; monsters and more. Karen Healey talked about pre-stressing your protagonist (so that when you deal them more strife, they're already primed!). Brenton McKenna from Broome sees graphic novels as being like an oral story. His graphic novel 'Ubby's Underdogs' is the first of a trilogy and sold out in the bookshop before lunchtime. Paula Kelly reported that although ebook uptake is increasing, Australia's books sales in this format are at around 3 % in contrast to 25% in the US. There was speculation by other speakers that IPad v12 might well grab you by the scruff and pull you into the adventure in a very literal way! Other guests included, Ananda Braxton-Smith, Cath Crowley, Richard Newsome, Oliver Phommovanh, Denis Wright, Kirsty Eagar, Leanne Hall, Lucy Christopher and many many many more.

Cassandra Clare talked about 'urban exploration', looking at parts of the city no longer being frequented/used at all for settings, citing an abandoned smallpox facility just off Manhattan as an example. Others talked about the same idea, of fixing themselves in their fictional landscape by using existing landscapes, so the eventual book landscape feels very authentic. There was discussion of landscape as character. Cassandra also described writers as people with a bizarre group of interests that become obsessions. Nice.

Kate Burridge, language guru from Monash Uni, shared a great deal of bad language with us and introduced us to some new terms: verbal cuddling...eg 'hello, you mangy old bugger' where the words were perhaps considered swearing but the tone of delivery removes any offence. Another new term was the 'infix' (as apposed to suffix and prefix) eg absa-bloody-lutely, and said there are rules about it's use...no one ever says 'ab-bloody-salutely'!

Others talked about family cultural 'tics' sayings and behaviours that can cue character in meaningful ways.

There were morning teas and lunches, afternoon teas and receptions, dinners and early morning coffees. It was exhausting. My children sent me to bed early on Saturday night, because I was making no sense. I can't promise that I'm making much more now, but the information is hopefully filtering through now and I can begin the week, impelled by the formal and informal conversations of the weekend.

16 comments:

Sue Lawson said...

Reading Matters is always such a fantastic conference, and not just for the great speakers, but for the company! Sowetto Choir was great Clare! Lunch soon!

Claire said...

It is, isn't it? The company is AT LEAST half the fun. Glad the choir was great, although it was never in doubt, really. Look forward to lunch

Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Claire, You certainly get around... writers conferences and festivals. Glad it was another fabulous one for you ... Karen T.

Claire said...

Thanks Karen. :)

Life's a poem said...

I loved listening to Rebecca last night on the panel- fascinating- so I feel I've had a little taste of Reading Matters- thanks for sharing!

Claire said...

Glad you could join us Lorraine, even if it was miles apart!

Dee White said...

Thanks for the round up, Claire.

Sounds like a great conference. Would like to have gone but too many other commitments this year.

Am looking forward to the next one.

Claire said...

Thanks Dee. I'm not feeling too sorry for you...off to LA so soon!

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Wish I could have been there too, Claire! Maybe next year!! :) Thanks for the overview, it whet my appetite.

christinemareebell said...

Thanks for the great overview of Reading Matters, Claire. A great summing up and you've really inspired me to go next year. Wish I could have gone. It sounds one not to be missed. Glad you enjoyed it so much and hope you're almost recovered now. :) C.

Claire said...

Thanks Sheryl. Hope to see you there next time! You have two years to plan...

Claire said...

Perhaps you'll be there at the next one as a speaker, Chris, talking about your new novel!

Angela Sunde. said...

Thanks, Claire. I have made notes from this post and pre-stressing my protagonist will be the first one I put to good use. Angela

Catriona Hoy said...

Sounds fantastic Claire...one day!

cheers, cat

Claire said...

Yes, 'pre-stressing character' was one of those 'ah-hah' phrases for me.

Claire said...

I look forward to your ya novel Cat. I reckon you'd do the genre proud!