On Wednesday the 18th of March, students from both the junior and senior schools showed up bright and early (or bleary and early for some of the senior students), ready to board the bus to the 2015 Somerset Celebration of Literature. It was a bright and sunny day when we departed, but as the bus sped on, clouds in the distance heralded the arrival of heavy rains which got there before we did. This made the trip from bus to the library, where the first talk was being held, somewhat wet, to put it lightly.
The first author we listened to was Dr Kari Gislason, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literary Studies in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT. In 2011 he published A Promise of Iceland, a memoir of his journey to find his father. He spoke to us about the meaning behind the reasons we write and talked about the incidents in his own life which triggered the setting and events for his latest novel, The Ash Burner.
From there, we ventured out onto the oval, the rain having thankfully cleared. We were there to listen to Sarah Ayoub, who wrote the novel Hate is Such a Strong Word. She gave a very interesting talk on her upbringing as a Lebanese girl in Australia, and how her experiences inspired her to write Hate is Such a Strong Word, the story of a young Lebanese-Australian girl in a similar situation. She also offered some tips for those among the audience interested in becoming authors, ranging from how to write to how to publish.
After a quick bite to eat and a short stop at the bookshop, we headed off to our third session by YA novelist Ellie Marney, where we had a rather more quirky experience than at the other two sessions. A few members of the audience were given bags of confetti, and told to throw a handful in the air whenever the word ‘romance’ was said. The rest of Ellie’s talk was more conventional as she gave a detailed presentation about problems with the representation of romance in novels, and how to do this properly. She also discussed the lack of diversity in said romantic novels, discussing the need in our modern, progressive society for this to change. This was definitely my favourite presentation of the day.
The final author we listened to was Pete Ahern, who wrote the book On the Road… With Kids, the story of how he and his family left their home in Australia to travel through Europe and Asia. On earlier trips, Pete had been “shot at, poisoned, tear-gassed, robbed at gunpoint, locked up in an African jail, and been a passenger in two train derailments,” however the trip with his children was far less eventful!
(by Josh J, Year 11)