I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Perth Writers Festival recently – you may have heard me telling you about it earlier, I was super excited to be going – and it turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to meet readers, writers, chefs and even the occassional super star. (okay so I sat next to Dave Graney once – hey, he’s famous!)

My festival started on Thursday Feb 23 with the Schools Day – hundreds, or was it thousands, of eager young unwrinkled faces crowded the campus at the university to see their favourite authors talk, or if you’re me, talk loudly and make really, really bad jokes which they were kind enough to laugh at.

I was presenting to a packed room of 12 – 14 year olds from many different schools and after a great intro by comedian Bonnie Davis I swung straight into talking about Rosie and the future and asking them to tell me what they thought things might be like in 500 years. What imaginations! We talked about flying cars, underwater houses and eating bugs. One boy proudly claimed to have survived eating a cockroach. We were all grossed out and impressed at the same time. I even got to show my book trailer and some pics – though we had a slight hitch with the technical side, but it was all okay in the end. Big thanks to those kids who came up to me afterward to tell me they loved the books. I love you guys!

After collapsing in the green room ( which isn’t green but had some lovely people in there helping and giving us cake and tea. I ate lots of cake.) I went back to the hotel to get ready to hear Germaine Greer give the opening address at 7pm. If you don’t know who she is, go and Google her right now…….okay now you know??? brilliant. So she was clever and funny and talked about slime mould and feminism and books and then we all went out and had a cocktail party in front of this amazing flower….

  It’s called Breathing Flower. It is and gorgeous artwork by artist, Choi Jeong Hwa. I couldn’t get a night shot but it looked really amazing lit up.

 Next day I had a great panel called It’s All Speculation with fellow speculative fiction authors Carole Wilkinson and Lauren Beaukes with the lovely Helen Merrick as our moderator. We spent a great hour talking about our work, why we love to write what we do and why fantasy and sci fi is still so popular. Carole has written a beautiful series of fantasy books featuring dragons – Dragonkeeper is one of them – among many others and Lauren writes mind bending fantasy sci fi/future worlds, her latest book Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke award.

On Saturday I had another panel called Reimagining the Future, this time with authors John Birmingham and Peter Docker and with moderator Jeff Sparrow we talked about future worlds and why so many are dystopian. John writes spec fic action thrillers and has a series about America being wiped out by a mysterious event – the latest book is Angels of Vengence and Peter’s latest book is set in WA like mine but is very different, it mixes the past with the future and dreaming with reality and is called The Waterboys. I should note, both these guys write for adults. We were all writing really different things but still had similar ideas about the future.

The last day – Sunday – I ran a 3 hour workshop on creating worlds and how to immerse your readers better in the world by using character and sensory perception. 21 people turned up and we had lots of fun at the beginning rearranging tables so I didn’t have to talk to a square block – I hate talking to blocks – then I had them all ask each other little questions I’d made up about writing so they found out some things about one another. It was a great but mixed group from children’s writers to fantasy to memoir and those who weren’t sure what they wanted to do but needed some inspiration. I hope I helped them out.

We talked about lots of different things and I got to hear some really great ideas. Imagination was running hot  and if they were my ideas I might share them, but they’re not and who knows, maybe some of those ideas will make their way into a book some day.

All in all it was a great festival. I met a journalist from the New York Times who was there to talk about the world food shortage crisis, the mother of the Tamil Tigress and the tigress herself Niromi Soyza who has written a book about her time as a teenager with the rebel army in Sri Lanka, I also chatted with Mark Jensen (chef), Phillip Adams, Alan Carter, Hanifa Deen and had a lovely long chat over coffee with James Roy about our favourite books among other things that cannot be named!

A fabulous time and a fabulous festival and thanks to all who were there.

xxx Lara

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