So, pretty much every place I’ve lived in Queensland is flood-affected at the moment, to some degree, and a whole bunch of friends and family are facing different challenges as the storm plays out and damage is assessed. My old neighbour, dear Bundaberg, and surrounds have been hit hard. Donations are being accepted by the Red Cross to help the hundreds of people who have lost homes to tornadoes and floodwaters. You can give here. The storm cell is affecting northern NSW as well … only two years after the state was hammered by cyclones and flooding, they’ve been hit again.
There really is nothing like country hospitality. I had the good fortune to be a guest at Booked, the first such event hosted by the Bundaberg Library at the weekend. Also appearing were Stephanie Laurens, Kirsty Brooks and Kim Michelle Toft, and what a fascinating group they were. The day began after a coffee with all of us answering questions from our awesome library host Sue Gammon.
I was particularly interested to hear that all of us were inspired to write our initial books by self-interest: interested in telling the kind of story we each wanted to read, rather than as a marketing exercise or commercial venture. The theme of passion for writing and storytelling was one that ran strong through my own presentation later in the day. But that followed a superb presentation by Kim of her gorgeous silk painting of underwater scenes, some she uses in her children’s books, others she sells through her gallery in northern New South Wales. Then Stephanie blew us away with her work ethic and description of her amazing house in Victoria, tailor-made for a full-time writer. Then I was chuffed to field a bunch of questions about horror and vampires and writing in general, before Kirsty charmed the crowd (and it *was* a crowd, what a great turnout!) with her sheer enthusiasm and zaniness.
I have two goddaughters in Bundy, so being able to catch up with my dear friends there as well as rub shoulders with writers and readers really was a lot of fun. And then there was the generous barbecue held by Bundaberg writer Sandy Curtis …
We forget, in the city, just how many stars there are. Even a country boy like me forgets from time to time. A walk on the beach away from the city lights can do wonders for our perspective. Life is a fleeting thing. Best to indulge those passions while we can, methinks.
I’m excited to say that I’ll be joining some excellent writers at Bundaberg Library’s Booked program in May. Stephanie Laurens, Kirsty Brooks and Kim Michelle Toft will be sharing the love and angst at panels, chats and, I believe, over lunch. I grew up in the Wide Bay region and still have good friends in Bundy, so it’s a bit of a return to my old stomping grounds, bringing some Gothic vampire love with me :)
Booked is on Sunday, May 17, conveniently dovetailing with Writefest the day before, run by Bundaberg Writers Club. So I’ll be popping in there for a look-see, too. Sue Abbey is among the professionals running workshops at Writefest: I can’t speak highly enough of her skills and friendly advice.
Two other events worth noting: the mob organising the national science fiction convention, Conjecture, in Adelaide in June have extracted their digit and posted more information on the website, allaying mounting fears that the long period of silence heralded a fizzler. Mind you, with that many wineries within cork-popping distance, that was never really going to be an issue, was it?
Another cool event that has got cooler is Continuum, in Melbourne in August, where Melbourne writer Narelle M Harris has been added as a guest of honour. Harris has had a vampire novel published by Brisbane’s Pulp Fiction Press; they make a commendable team :)
The other key convention for spec fic writers and readers this year is Conflux, in Canberra in October, but unfortunately I won’t be making that. Rather I’ll be at my Edge writers group’s annual retreat, hoping to make something beautiful come of it.