A Wimpy Kid, an Irish Larrikin and an Alien Ambassador – the 2012 Sydney Writers’ Festival
Last week and over the weekend I attended the wonderful Sydney Writers’ Festival. There were many great authors and book people there, including an array of children’s and Young Adult authors (Andy Griffiths,Emily Rodda, Isobelle Carmody, Scott Westerfeld, Bob Graham, Sue Whiting … and many more).
Three of my favourite sessions were with Jeff Kinney, Roddy Doyle, and the Sydney Story Factory.
Things I learned about Jeff Kinney
He originally wrote Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. For him the story was about reflecting back on his childhood.
One of the Spanish versions of Diary of a Wimpy Kid is called diario de um banana (Diary of a Banana).
Before writing his books he wrote down heaps and heaps of ideas from his childhood on this bit of paper – he has only just now used up all these ideas.
The next Wimpy Kid book involves Valentines Day but the book most probably won’t be pink because he doesn’t think boys would buy that.
He said that usually when people use the term ‘Reluctant Readers’, they just mean ‘boys’.
People in his town (Plainville, Massachusetts – yes that really is the name of the town) don’t recognise him, which continues to make him very humble.
The Master Storyteller, Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle is a very funny and engaging Irish author who has written many books for kids and adults. I bought his latest kid’s book Greyhound of a Girl, which I believe involves a ghost. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. Roddy also spoke a little bit about the organisation he helped create in Dublin, Fighting Words, which gives kids a space to go outside of school to be creative and engage in storytelling.
Roddy once got into an argument with an audience member at a writers’ festival over how many kids he had. Roddy still claims he has 3 but apparently the internet is saying 2. Who to believe?
A friend of one of Roddy’s sons found a picture of Roddy Doyle in a history book, but on closer inspection it turned out to be Ghandi.
Alien Invasion – The Sydney Story Factory Strikes Again
The Sydney Story Factory, of which I am a volunteer, ran a book making session with a talented bunch of kids. Together they wrote the first half of a story entitled Thieves From Mars, and then individually they finished their stories so that Martia the Martian (hiding out the back) could bind copies of their books for them to take home (the books will also be sent to a newly established but currently bookless library on Mars). The story they came up with was pretty awesome – it involved a talking banana named Bob, a ginormous baby in a pram at Luna Park, and Marty, the 2cm tall alien ambassador with 3 eyes and 6 tongues (each which could speak a different language). I helped a 4 year old boy, Zac, finish his story and he was a storytelling genius with an extremely active imagination. I’d be surprised if he’s not published by the time he reaches age 5.
You can read more about the Sydney Story Factory here.
The Sydney Writers’ Festival is over for this year but next year in May, if you’re in Sydney, I highly recommend checking it out.