I had a great time last week chairing the "Other Worlds Other Values" panel at the Children's Book Council of Australia conference. I was pretty nervous beforehand, being decidedly out of practice with the whole public speaking thing, but once I sat down at the table my butterflies fluttered off and I was good to go. And it was a great time all round. To be honest, I had difficulty coming up with questions that would tease out the topic, and I was banking on the panellists being able to find enough to talk about to keep the discussion rolling. They did, although it took a little bit of time before they found the groove. At one point, maybe close to the half-way mark, I was watching Sean Williams speak and thinking to myself "when he finishes, I have absolutely no more questions to ask. Keep talking Sean, keep talking." And thankfully he did, and then someone else spoke, and that sparked another question in my mind, and so on, and before I knew it we had run out of time and I had to end what had turned into a lively and fascinating discussion. Wonderful stuff.
Deep in discussion
And what great panellists. There's enough awards between them to fill a barn but they were all completely approachable and down to earth, not to mention supportive of their newbie panel chair. My only regret was I didn't really get a chance to speak to them in the post-panel hustle and bustle, although I did get Eoin and Sean to sign copies of their books for me. Hopefully our paths will cross again some time soon.
All in all the conference was wonderful, and I'm sorry I didn't get to see more of it. With luck, I'll manage to get to some other writing conferences in the next little while.
Eoin Colfer. Why are Irish people always so hilarious?
Firstly, my fellow writer in the trenches Pete Aldin has interviewed me for his new (and very schmick) website www.petealdin.com. Definitely worth checking out, not just for the interview but for his practical and very down to earth writing tips. Drop in and say hi.
Also, my publisher has an interview on the Omnibus Blog which you can find here.
And now I'm hoping I haven't wildly contradicted myself between these two interviews.
I'm also hoping to post an account of the recent Children's Book Council of Australia conference and my panel-chairing experience in the next few days. It was a hoot! There'll be photos too.
I could probably say "stretched" instead of "stressed" but I think both words express the same thing accurately enough. At work I've been given a new task and it's not something I've done before (programming code to talk to a PLC through a serial port, if you want the gory details), and no matter how much time I spend banging my head on the desk I'm not making very good progress. Then on the writing front I have just over six months to complete book 3 of Tales of the Blue Jade and I'm getting a bit scared looking at how many words I have to complete in a week vs. how many words I'm actually achieving. Then I have preparation for chairing a panel next week, something I've never done before and something which involves trying to string coherent words together in front of many hundreds of people. Preferably without fainting.
I'm not complaining, I should say. If you'd told me a few years back I'd have these problems I would have been overjoyed. It's just I want to make sure I do the best I possibly can, and that means trying to fit intense activity into every waking moment, in between all the usual family and lifestyle things. Thankfully things should start to ease off next week when the conference is finished and my current task at work is done, then it's just writing book 3 that I have to stress over.
I should also say, not all the work I've had to do over the last few weeks has been stressful. One good thing that's come out of it is I've had the chance to read Artemis Fowl for the first time. It's a gem. If you want a book that's hilarious and original and fast-paced, do yourself a favour and grab a copy. And if you want to meet the author, I have it on good authority he'll be on a panel this next Saturday here in sunny Adelaide.
However, should anyone anywhere still fancy a free copy of Mapmaker's Apprentice, I'll send it to the first person to put a comment under this post. Any kind of comment will do: what you ate for dinner; some poetry you wrote as a child; your opinion of the effectiveness of garlic for the treatment of gout; even a blank space or a blob of text generated by randomly thumping the keys. Whatever you want to post, please do it, and if you're the first I will send you your very own free copy of Mapmaker's Apprentice. Yours. For Free.
*UPDATE* Competition closed! Well done Jonathan D, winner of a brand new signed copy of The Mapmaker's Apprentice.