Each year Somerset College devotes an enormous amount of time and energy to organising the Somerset Celebration of Literature, a festival run over three days for schools and two days for the public, and it’s always a great place to listen to new and favourite authors. This year, some of our Year 9s and Year 6s enjoyed a day at the festival, with the Year 9s listening to Mark Smith, Shivaun Plozza, Fleur Ferris and Allison Goodman, and the Year 6s listening to Lance Balchin, Lucas Proudfoot, Matt Stanton and Professor Frankie Falconette.
Mark Smith grew up on a farm and at age 15 he’d never read a book. He read Catcher in the Rye when recovering from falling off a horse, loved it and went on to become an English teacher and writer. The Road to Winter is book 1 of a trilogy, and is an Australian survival story set in a post-apocalyptic future. Mark’s advice to writers: Write what you know and are passionate about; take risks and persevere.
Alison Goodman creates vivid, believable worlds in her books, and has written fantasy (Eon and Eona), historical (Lady Helen) and science fiction novels (Singing the Dogstar Blues). She also likes to involve the five senses in her stories, and her example of her husband having a cortisone injection in his heel where the needle broke off was definitely told very vividly!
Shivaun Plozza realized she wanted to be an author and looked for different ways of achieving this, again and again until her book Frankie was published. Her advice to writers: Push through every single failure, as often the most determined and most stubborn authors get published.
Fleur Ferris was a paramedic and police officer from the age of 19 years. She grew up on a 10,000 acre wheat farm and was a survivor of the Ash Wednesday bush fires. She always liked writing, and after her ordeal she wrote about the fires. For her, writing worked like medicine and speeded up her recovery. She has published three books: Risk, Black and Wreck. Fleur’s advice to writers: read widely and write about small incidents.
Lance Balchin is an artist who, through the medium of Photoshop, has created some amazing creatures in his book Mechanica: a beginners field guide. This is the first in a series of books, each page of which consists of a complex illustration and description of a mechanical creature.
Lucas Proudfoot held the audience in the palm of his hand through song, humour and storytelling. He played the didgeridoo, guitar and stomp box whilst encouraging the audience to learn more about indigenous cultures. Student David Butler took to the stage and performed the hula to the delight of other BGS boys in the Hall.
Matt Stanton has published a number of picture books for young people but his latest book is aimed decidedly at middle school readers. Called Funny Kid, the book tells the tale of Max, the class clown who is running for class president. Matt’s presentation had the audience rolling in the aisles and our boys are keen to grab a copy of the book when it is released.
Professor Frankie Falconette is a character brought to life by actor Nadia Sunde. Frankie is a Harry Potter enthusiast who brings to life the characters and creatures from the books. Her presentation included a reading of her favourite part of the first book in the series when Harry goes to Diagon Alley. There were also games to play and trivia questions for eager readers.