Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 3

IMG_20170527_084739_BURST001_COVER
‘The World Turns’ by Michael Parekowhai. In his bronze casts, the small native water rat, the kuril (seen near the 5-metre tall elephant) is the hero. Along with the traditional Aboriginal custodians, the kuril is one of the caretakers of the land on which Gallery of Modern Art and this sculpture stand beside the river.

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear.  First, Jasper Fforde ‘Book Club’ up close and personal on the River Deck at State Library of Queensland, commencing at the civilised time of 10am.  I only managed one rather dull photograph because I didn’t feel comfortable breaking the reverent atmosphere.  Other times, it’s just not polite.

I waited with a friendly group of fans (all with different favourite books) as savoury snacks, cheeses, fresh fruit and small packs of mixed nuts were being put on low tables between an eclectic selection of chairs.  I watched the bar staff setting up with wine and soft drinks.  Scatter cushions were put on long low bench seating and I had my eye on a nice cosy corner.

IMG_20190908_103010
Left to right – book reader guest, Jasper Fforde, moderator, on the River Deck at State Library of Queensland looking across the Brisbane River towards the city.

Guest-of-honour Jasper Fforde talked about his 20-year career working in the film industry with some big names before he decided to write full-time.  He has 14 books under his literary belt.  These books are called post-modern, sort of parallel universe crime novels; he takes our world and tweaks it.  For example, Spec-Ops Thursday Next lives and works inside books, and in ‘Early Riser’ the Welsh population hibernate throughout winter with strange dreams and unsettling encounters.  Have a read of this New York Times review.  Jasper discussed his writing style, his books, and forthcoming standalone ‘The Constant Rabbit’.

Unfortunately I do not remember the name of our moderator, I know she taught creative writing.  She kicked off the Q&A session for us but we were a rather sedate bunch so no fierce debates ensued.  I asked Jasper about the gender ambiguity of Charlie Worthing in ‘Early Riser’ and how it was questioned on social media, adding it must have been difficult to write but it works.  The closest example mentioned was Virginia Woolf and ‘Orlando’ which contains gender androgyny.

As we sat and snacked and sipped, the view across Brisbane River towards the city was ever-changing.  CityCat ferries, a police patrol boat, the Kookaburra Queen paddle wheeler, and a jet boat or two cruised by, almost like a continually scrolling film.

Time was up!  All too soon it was over and I was smuggling a packet of mixed nuts into my bag for later.  I decided to get serious with the bookshop and purchased the items you see below.

IMG_20190908_160517
You know what happens, you go in browsing the books and next thing you are looking at all the book-related paraphernalia. Saw this book lover’s mug and couldn’t resist buying it. Happily, it features most of my favourite classics but it is a big mug and so far I haven’t been able to finish a full beverage.

Last item on my agenda, last but not least, was the Closing Address ‘This Way Humanity’.

Soon evening and 5.30pm arrived, as did the audience who piled into The Edge auditorium to hear Jasper Fforde’s closing words on a pretty heavy topic.  He delivered a personal 40-minute speech, going straight to the heart of the matter, raising pertinent questions on our future.  He gave examples about past, present and Little Daisy as yet unborn but what of her future.  Thoughts on where humanity is headed and the universal importance of literacy and book-reading and how we must dare to ignite and explore our imagination.

IMG_20190908_175332
The Edge auditorium, the audience hushed as Jasper Fforde delivered his 40-minute closing address entitled ‘This Way Humanity’.

To be honest, I couldn’t absorb all of the closing address, a thought-provoking mixture of insights and humour, and I’m hoping it will be available online for everyone to read.

By now I was getting hungry.  After a stroll through South Bank Parklands with family, we dined at the delightfully casual South Bank eatery Hop & Pickle where I had a super-duper fresh fish supper.

IMG_20190908_190307
After the Closing Speech, a stroll through South Bank Parklands and a relaxed dinner at Hop And Pickle on Little Stanley Street. “Proud purveyors of pub gastronomy”

On the walk back to the bus station, we bought sweet treats from Doughnut Time.  Yum!

IMG_20190908_200510
Walking back to the Cultural Centre bus station and just happened to spy the hole-in-the-wall Doughnut Time. Exotic delights with gorgeous names and way too much sugar and spice and all things nice. Yes, they did make it home before being devoured!

As you can see, I attended morning and evening events over the four days.  I travelled by council bus to and from each event.  That adds up to 10 bus trips of approximately 45 minutes duration each.  Yes, tedious, but I saved on parking fees and had a relaxing read during the journey.  Sometimes the bus was almost empty and on the last night it was packed so I stood up the whole way.

My visits were concentrated on one author (as you would have deduced!) yet each event was varied in presentation and content and I am very happy with the outcome.

I started my journey in the early morning with a smokey orange sky over the city.  Here is the same spot four days later looking twinkly in the late evening as I say goodbye to Brisbane Writers Festival for another year.  Safe travels, Mr Fforde.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190908_202410
The Ending – nightlife – view from South Bank footbridge, looking across the river towards Brisbane City.

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 2

IMG_20190907_092553
The Beginning – dust haze – view from South Bank footbridge, looking across the river towards Brisbane City.

This morning dawned an apocalyptic orange, heavy with outback smoke and dust.  Gone was the bright blue of springtime.  As I neared the city, gusty winds swirled around, making it difficult to know whether earth particles were coming in or being blown away.  Blinking dry eyes, I photographed the pallid light which struggled to illuminate the city skyline.

I was pretty annoyed at the weather’s bad timing.  With thousands of people, both local and international, converging on South Bank for the Brisbane Writers Festival, it made outdoor conditions uncomfortable.  I spared a thought for the farmers and those suffering terribly as bushfires rage across Queensland. We need our wet season now!

IMG_20190907_091634
View of Brisbane City from council bus window, the morning light seemed lifeless, glazed in outback dust as the 2019 drought worsens.

I was trying not to hurry.  I could taste the dust as it rasped in and out of my lungs.  Nerves and excitement made me shallow breathe, this was the first morning event at Brisbane Writers Festival.  After a quick swig from my water bottle, I headed towards State Library.   “Slow down”, I chided.  “Take a photo of the whales”.

IMG_20190905_122052
Life-size adult Humpback Whales and calf in the walkway of Queensland Museum, Brisbane, with complex underwater songs. The Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) occurs in all oceans of the world. Herds migrate along the Queensland coast between winter breeding and summer feeding grounds. This species was given complete protection by the International Whaling Commission in the southern and northern hemispheres. Today, the eastern Australian Humpback Whales show signs of strong recovery from commercial whaling. “Save The Whales”

After my paper ticket was beeped, I entered the Queensland Writers Centre rooms, oh, the joy of filtered air.  I settled into a well-designed (and comfortable) white upholstered chair ready for “Writing Futures”.  Placed in front of me was a bowl of sweets to fortify and information to read.  Two people were already standing beside a whiteboard.  One was the QWC spokesperson and the other was UK author Jasper Fforde.  He was about to give us a three-hour almost non-stop workshop based on his “narrative dare” principle.  Pens, paper and iPads were certainly worked overtime!

IMG_20190907_093302
I tiptoed past the Zen garden so as not to wake the sleeping rocks or disturb the gravel waves.

On arrival next day, a more pleasant day, I turned the corner and there was the solid, colourful comfort of Angel’s Place, a 7.5metre high dome structure which features a print of an original artwork created by artist Gordon Hookey.  Angel’s Palace is a multi-disciplinary collaboration that represents the voice of Indigenous Australia and celebrates Aboriginal storytelling and literature in a powerful experience for audiences.

IMG_20190907_093840
Angel’s Place on Maiwar Green outside the Gallery of Modern Art where special performances of Carpentaria were held throughout the Brisbane Writers Festival from panel discussions to secrets of the land.
IMG_20190907_093922
Angel’s Place, Brisbane Writers Festival, where ancient stories are told about Carpentaria. Here lives the spirit nest of the ancient serpent, a creature larger than storm clouds, who came down from the stars. On top of the snake’s spirit nest lies Angel’s Palace, the home of Angel Day. Look closely…

While I was photographing Angel’s Place, I heard a cultured Englishman’s voice behind me, asking a question about the dome.  I recognised that voice!  Sure enough, when I swung around I saw author Jasper Fforde walking past, heading towards Gallery of Modern Art with others on the “Dream Worlds” panel.  A fanfic moment rushed over me.  Before I knew it I was following the VIP group.  Walk, click, click, walk and they disappeared inside.  The audience was ushered in shortly afterwards and we took our seats in Cinema B for some serious (and silly) stuff on sleep and dreams.

IMG_20190907_093957
The weather had cleared and it was much finer on the second day of Brisbane Writers Festival. The arrow points to UK author Jasper Fforde followed by “Dream Worlds” panel moderator Sarah L’Estrange of ABC Radio National which broadcast the event.
IMG_20190907_110105
“Dream Worlds” panel discussion (left to right) moderator Sarah L’Estrange, guest authors USA Karen Thompson Walker, UK Jasper Fforde, Australia Krissy Kneen. And I purchased each of their books.

Official link to ABC Radio National audio recording https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-book-show/dreams-bwf/11506864

Had lunch at home prior to returning for “Early Riser: An Evening Conversation” with Jasper Fforde and hosted by John Birmingham in The Edge auditorium, State Library of Queensland.  Tough words, Jasper doesn’t swear but John does, and there were jibes, a bite to their conversation.  Jasper talked about the creation of his current book and John advised him not to give away any spoilers.

IMG_20190907_180914
Author Jasper Fforde and author/moderator John Birmingham at Brisbane Writers Festival 2019. I always had a good view of the proceedings and noted that the majority of attendees were women. Do women read more, are women more aware of literary diversity?

Below is what the queue looked like while I was waiting for Jasper Fforde’s autograph.  And I stood with an old work colleague I met quite by accident.  Jasper kindly signed my copy of “Early Riser”, stamped it This book has been declare SKILLZERO Protocol Approved”—an author/reader joke—and tucked a postcard inside.  I asked him what his favourite pet would be, Dodo or Quarkbeast, and he said Quarkbeast (from “The Last Dragonslayer” series) so the family was happy.

You may have noticed that I do not describe the full content of each event.  This is personal preference, I don’t want to divulge things which may be copyright.

The organisation and facilities for this experience are first-class and everything ran smoothly.  As a past volunteer at other literary occasions, I appreciated the knowledge and friendliness of the current volunteers.  Their fluorescent aqua t-shirts stood out!

Another day draws to a close.  I looked forward to tomorrow and perusing more free activities, strolling around the abundant bookshop, then chatting at author “Book Club” with drinks and nibbles, sitting on cushions in the sunshine on the River Deck at State Library.  It’s not difficult to appreciate the luxury of it all.

Ciao for now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 1

Hi there, a diary entry to say that I am locked into five events over four days at the Brisbane Writers Festival and have attended session ‘Workshop: Writing Futures’ with UK author Jasper Fforde in QWC rooms which I thought ran for one hour, instead it turned out to be three hours.  Value for money!

Jasper Fforde’s takeaway tip for writers: Plausibility Not Believability.  There ain’t nuthin’ that bloke don’t know about writing parallel worlds and alternate futures.

Luckily I had tucked a muesli bar and bottle of water into my bag which helped stave off hunger as I listened avidly to every enlightening word.  Jasper Fforde is humorous, full of helpful advice and open to questions.  I was bold enough to asked a question or two about his ‘The Last Dragonslayer’ trilogy—although Spec-Ops and Thursday Next will always be my favourite.  During the Festival there will be plenty of time for book signings.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 03
https://bwf.org.au/

Roll on Saturday and a panel discussion ‘Dream Worlds’ in Cinema B Gallery of Modern Art, being recorded by ABC Radio National, with Australian author Krissy Kneen, American author Karen Thompson Walker and UK author Jasper Fforde.  They are followed by ‘Early Riser’ Conversation at The Edge, State Library of Queensland, South Bank, then Sunday ‘Book Club’ chat with Jasper Fforde on SLQ River Deck.  There is a closing address on Sunday evening ‘This Way Humanity’ and in the meantime I can avail myself of a Festival freebie or two.

Springtime here, it’s dry and unseasonably hot in Brisbane followed by bushfire smoke and dusty high winds so I’ve had to rework my wardrobe.  My bus GoCard is topped up, I have the BWF tickets printed, I am good to go.  Hopefully I will post more in-depth snippets next week.  In the meantime, type Jasper Fforde into my search bar to view my past posts.

The photograph (below) shows the way I walk to State Library of Queensland, underneath the singing whales in the roof outside the Queensland Museum.  Always reminds me of the whale in Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.

Bye for now . . . to be continued.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190905_122005_BURST001_COVER
Life-size whale calf in the roof outside Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

‘The Last Dragonslayer’ by Jasper Fforde

IMG_20180318_112055
The Last Dragonslayer novels by Jasper Fforde

While Thursday Next lives in a parallel universe, The Last Dragonslayer is set in a world of myths, illusions and modern magic.

Orphan Jennifer Strange, a practical teenager, runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management with eccentric magicians who create irregular spells.  But magic and dragons are losing power and Jennifer discovers evil King Snodd IV wants to grab the Dragonlands, 350 acres of prime real estate.  Jennifer dislikes the King’s greed and so does the last Dragonslayer, an old wizard named Brian who controls dragons with an ancient sword.

Helped by her cool friend Tiger Prawns, and a metal-munching Quarkbeast with frighteningly sharp teeth, Jennifer rallies to protect the Dragonlands.  Meanwhile, wizard Brian is hatching a secret plan.  Jennifer doesn’t realise she is part of that plan.

This is the first book in Last Dragonslayer/Kazam Chronicles by Jasper Fforde and I loved reading their vital quest.  Suitable for 12 years and up, the second and third books are The Song Of The Quarkbeast and The Eye Of Zoltar.  There will be a fourth book in the series but at this stage only working titles have been released; possibly Humans vs Trolls or The Strange And The Wizard or The Great Troll War.  Guess we’ll just have to wait for the next quirky edition!

Author Jasper Fforde

Publisher Hodder & Stoughton UK

Movie by Mallinson Television Productions on Vimeo screened by Sky1

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

The Last Dragonslayer Jennifer Strange

Jasper Fforde 2018-2019 Author Events

Excited beyond belief when I found out Jasper Fforde, my all-time favourite post-modern author, has some cool events coming up!  Including another book.  And the eponymous Fforde Ffiesta rolls around again next year.

If any reader attended a US event, or may be attending a future UK event, I’m jealous but hoping I will read your WordPress review.  Of course, I will be writing about Jasper Fforde’s Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 special guest appearances in September!  See itinerary below—

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Photos by Mari Fforde (hover to see date)
Information from Jasper Fforde website (see below)


APPEARANCES

 Jasper Fforde says:  As usual, please call the venue to check times and dates before you set out just in case I am kidnapped by badgers, eager to promote their dangerous monochrome agenda.
Gretchen says: New book “Early Riser” is now available.  Read my review here
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/12/14/early-riser-jasper-fforde-book-review/\


2018


Feb 21st-22nd, Casper, Wyoming:
Wyoming Humanities Festival 2018

Book signing and lectures. I’ve never been to Wyoming, and the frightfully pleasant people at Casper have been asking me for a while. Talk and Book Signing Courtesy of Windy City Books, and a lecture plus Q&A the following day. Full details at the Humanities Festival website.


1-2nd March 2018, Cardiff Library:
Crime & Coffee Festival, Cardiff

First Crime and Coffee Festival at Cardiff Library. More details to follow, but I am assured the coffee is the crime, and there will be no actual murders of crimes taking place. Either days, or both, details to follow. Cardiff Library Website.


24th May-3rd June 2018
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales:
May or may not be attending this year––One of the UK’s most imaginative and entertaining authors creates hilarious, often absurd but always compelling adventures within bizarre and zany worlds.  Jasper Fforde’s hugely popular The Last Dragonslayer series is packed with trademark magic and invention.”
Information brochure Hay Festival, Wales.
Gretchen’s book review The Last Dragonslayer.


August 2018
Launch of Early Riser in the UK:

About bloody time too, say I.  Likely 1st to 12th August.  More details to follow.


August 13th – 18th, 2018, Wales:
Ty Newydd writing retreat, Wales

With Belinda Bauer, the course is called: Crime Fiction: A Twist in the Tale and from their website: “This course is designed for those who would like to write best-selling crime fiction – with a twist. Whether you’re writing your first novel, are switching from another genre, or have only dreamed of being a published author, we hope you’ll enjoy this down-to-earth, fun, and practical course. In workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions, we will be sharing our tried and tested methods of creating character, plot and tension, while helping you to avoid some common pitfalls. We’ll offer advice on a range of issues, from writer’s block and the art of pitching, to how to cope with bad reviews!”
For more details, please mouse you way to the Ty Newydd Website.


2019


Early Riser Tour Jasper Fforde


25th-26th May 2019, Swindon, UK:
Fforde Ffiesta VIII, Swindon, UK

These Festivals are held biannually and oh, what ffun we have – and hopefully a lot more to talk about this year as I will have at least one more book published… Their website is here.


NEWS FLASH !!

THURS 5 SEPTEMBER TO SUN 8 SEPTEMBER 2019, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

VENUE: BRISBANE WRITERS FESTIVAL, SOUTH BANK, QUEENSLAND
https://bwf.org.au/2019/brisbane-writers-festival/artists/jasper-fforde-1

Jasper Fforde itinerary will be:

Event 1 – Workshop ‘Writing Futures’ with Jasper Fforde at QWC: Learning Centre, State Library of Queensland.

Event 2 – Panel ‘Dream Worlds’ at Cinema B, Gallery of Modern Art, South Bank.

Event 3 – Conversation ‘Early Riser’ at The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Event 4 –  Book Club ‘Meet Jasper Fforde’ River Decks, State Library of Queensland.

Event 5 –  Lecture / Special Closing Address by Jasper Fforde, The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Jasper Fforde at Brisbane Writers Festival Sept 2019


FUTURE ENGAGEMENTS


March 02031:   Asteroid belt and Saturn (technology permitting) More details TBA.

October 02042:   81-year-old Fforde talks to other members of old people’s home: “I used to be a novelist, no really, I did. Is it lunchtime?” More details TBA.

July 02175:   Semi-lifelike cloned Ffordesque replicant to tour Gamma Quadrant in the Cygnus Cluster. More details TBA.

Setember 03431:   Much improved Fforde cloned back to life to face execution for sedition; all works consigned to erasure.

Janfebry 008910:   Last evidence of Fforde’s books vanish forever with the removal of the ‘Formerly Thursday Street’ plaque from what is now W23-61 Rd in the conurbation known as EuroWest-79.

00012972:    Visiting archaeologists from Thraal-7 discover incomplete copy of Well of Lost Plots from excavation in landfill. Deciphering takes seven hundred years and a further four hundred years of academic scrutiny before being accepted as historical fact.


More ffun, books, merchandising, photos  Jasper Fforde Grand Central
For those who like a bit of backstory  Wikipedia – Author Jasper Fforde
Twitter  @jasperfforde
Instagram  Jasper Fforde
Facebook   Jasper Fforde Writer


Jasper Fforde Ffun

Fforde Ffotos 012
Book Series

As a dyed-in-the-wool Jasper Fforde ffan, I recommend Shades Of Grey.  No, not that one!

Shades Of Grey deviates from Fforde’s brilliantly off-kilter, zany other-Britain adventures of Thursday Next, a LiteraTech operative for SpecOps-27, a crime fighting division inside literary fiction – literally – but there is some serious world building going on.  The Fforde trademark of inventiveness and unusual plot twists is there but the tone is sombre, the protagonist Eddie Russett lives in a tightly controlled world with a rigid hierarchy based on primary colours.  However, Eddie is not stupid and rises to the challenge of solving a perplexing mystery with the aid of some ‘colourful’ locals and a feisty Grey woman, Jane.

I have to say it is not my all-time favourite book in Fforde’s repertoire: Thursday Next wins.  I found the ending unsatisfying (except discovering where spoons go) although I do think it has been left open for a sequel.  If you’ve read the odd humour of Douglas Adams or inimitable Terry Pratchett and want a neo-noir version, try Jasper Fforde for ffun.  There’s enough books to keep you going!

Fforde has also written humorous Nursery Crimes series, and The Last Dragonslayer series about teenager Jennifer Strange.  Her agency, Kazam, employs weird and wonderful wizards who create magic and mayhem.

Check the website Grand Central http://www.jasperfforde.com/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Thursday Next Camoflage 001
LibCamo
Thursday Next SpecOps-27
Fangirl
Jasper Fforde Dodo 002
Pickwick Dodo

NEWS FLASH JASPER FFORDE WILL BE IN BRISBANE AUSTRALIA FOR BRISBANE WRITERS FESTIVAL, SOUTH BANK, FROM THURSDAY 5 SEPT TO SUNDAY 8 SEPT 2019.
https://bwf.org.au/2019/brisbane-writers-festival/artists/jasper-fforde-1

Jasper Fforde itinerary will be:

Event 1 – Workshop ‘Writing Futures’ with Jasper Fforde at QWC: Learning Centre, State Library of Queensland.

Event 2 – ‘Dream Worlds’ Panel at Cinema B, Gallery of Modern Art, South Bank.

Event 3 – Conversation ‘Early Riser’ at The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Event 4 –  Book Club ‘Meet Jasper Fforde’ River Decks, State Library of Queensland.

Event 5 –  Lecture / Special Closing Address by Jasper Fforde, The Edge, State Library of Queensland.


Jasper Fforde at Brisbane Writers Festival Sept 2019