Good news! My short story Broken Light won the Ada Cambridge prize at the Williamstown Literary Festival and has been published in the Festival’s 2009 Anthology Beyond Words. It was an equal winner, sharing the prize with Author Jackie Kerin. The prizes were handed out by Joan Kirner (the patron) at the launch of the Festival and the whole evening was a hoot. Actress Alice Garner read excerpts from my story and did such an amazing job bringing my Nonna to life I had to hold back a flood of tears. After the official festivities, there were press photos and a wee queue of ‘fans’ wanting signatures on their anthologies, which just made me giggle, to be h0nest.
I also had the dubious honour of meeting (being pushed around) by an old, ‘seasoned’ reporter for the Melbourne Observer, who rather confusedly asked me several times who won and then turned to CJ and asked him if he was Peter Garrett! When he interviewed me he asked what my husband’s name was and I jokingly said Peter Garrett and he wrote that down, so who knows what the article will say! He asked me several times if I was a housewife and seemed disappointed when I answered each time “I’m a writer”. By this stage Jackie was whispering in devilish tones in my ear, asking me whether my floors were currently sparkling or not, so keeping a straight face was hardly an option.
On Saturday I read an excerpt from Beat in the People’s Choice Awards and soon realised that reading the section about the car accident was perhaps a tad too much of a downer for the occasion and that I possibly had a few people stunned by the depth of my moroseness… will file that away for next time and read something funny instead… It was great to hear works by local writers in the community. I was particularly inspired by the work of a 15 year old boy whose grasp of language belied his years. One of the Penheads (writing group), Peta, came along and has written about it here if you’re interested.
Today (Sunday) I went to a talk by the author of The Zoopekeepers War (which won the inaugural Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction last year), Steven Conte. Steven spoke passionately about his time in Berlin as a young nineteen year old and how it sits behind the impetus for writing the book. As a real treat he read from his diary in 1993 when the idea of the book first came to him. So many authors talk about a virtually fully formed idea ‘dropping into my head’ (which, generally, is also my experience) but are rarely able to articulate it much beyond this, but with a distinct lack of ego, Steven read to us the words of an impassioned young man with a seed of a vision, and it was a real privilege to hear it. Steven also spoke about finding inspiration for fiction from walking the suburbs. Apparently Dickens did this – spending equal amounts of time walking to writing. Some scholars argue that this pacing is reflected in his prose. Steven also spoke about being a long distance runner at school and likened this to the process of writing long fiction – that it’s a long, tedious task after an inspiring moment, and that the journey to publication is travelled via a dogged insistence.
I was a sprinter at school, which might go some way to explaining the pace of my book and the time it took to write it… I’m always in such a damn hurry… Still, the work it takes after the excitement of that initial inspired idea should never be underestimated!