Congratulations to the successful writers listed below. I am still dazed at my accomplishment, a double dip! The two short stories I submitted have been close to my heart for some time and it is truly wonderful to have them recognised.
The Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is Australia-wide and I am the only member of Society of Women Writers Queensland to win honours this year. Such a privilege!
1st Prize: ‘Baby’ by Jean Flynn (Victoria)
2nd Prize: ‘Tram 86’ by Melanie Persson (Western Australia)
3rd Prize: ‘Remnants of Miriam’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
Three Highly Commended:
‘One Hundred Year Old Feet’ by Margaret Ogilvie (South Australia)
‘Mero in the Library’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
‘Not Everything is Cut & Dry’ by Maree Gallop (New South Wales)
‘Portraits’ by Megan Hippler (Queensland)
‘The Lies of Love’ by Jo Mularczyk (New South Wales)
‘The Birthday Present’ by Lynne Geary (Victoria)
(Award certificates below)
The competition judge, Lauren Daniels, is director of the Brisbane Writers Workshop. Lauren is a qualified editor, author, mentor and trainer of professionals, academics, writers and editors.
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.
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.
Part of my Brisbane Writers Festival quirky dream-related book haul.
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.
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.
On the walk back to the bus station, we bought sweet treats from Doughnut Time. Yum!
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.
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!
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.