A sun-drenched and possibly superficial series of blog posts

bbwfOn Saturday afternoon I chaired a panel on magic, and expanding our ideas of the conventional world, with speculative fiction author and astrologer Kim Falconer, and Dutch poet and Voodoo Priestess Maria van Daalen. There was such a great vibe to this panel. I went in really open-minded and hoped the audience would do the same. We talked about the body in space, about energy, power, love and desire, technology, change, animals – the interrelation of everything, and the authors’ work being an extension of their life philosophy. Maria recognised that my necklace (that G got me in New York) was silver moulded from snake vertebrate. Not many people guess that! Kim has a fantastic snake tattoo all down her front. As part of Maria’s religion, she can’t wear black – so every time I saw her around the festival she was just this bright, eclectic presence. Her poetry, too, is full of colour. The authors were fascinated, too, by each others’ worldview. It reminded me that there are so many ways of seeing the world – and in these cases, so many ways of seeing the world in a rich, positive, non-judgmental and healing way.

While we’re on snakes, Alex Miller told me at breakfast the next morning that he’d seen a beautiful big black snake down by the lake at the festival site. And then on Sunday night, after the trip home, when I was deep asleep, snakes were in my dreams – not scary ones, just silky ones, uncoiling as my consciousness relaxed and expanded post-festival.

On Saturday afternoon, Dan Ducrou also had his launch for The Byron Journals, and Krissy and I went and caught up with him and Phoebe and some of his friends and family for a few drinks. Dan had a great turnout for the launch. I still have his book here on my pile and I’ll get to it eventually so I can tell you more about it. By this, stage, though, I was quite well-and-truly pooped, and at about 10 I went back to my accommodation and had a big chat to my boy, then crashed out.

I had brekky with Alex and was in a great position to watch the whales and dolphins on a gorgeous, sunny morning. Sunday became the social day. At lunch time an old family friend, Lauren, came and picked me up, with her friend, and we had sushi. They had heaps of questions for me about what exactly goes on at a literary festival. Lauren’s friend said she liked reading, and she mentioned Matthew Reilly. ‘He’s at the festival’, I said. It makes you realise that literary festivals aren’t at all on the radar of most people. Of course, the Byron audience is mostly retirees and also kids for the schools programs. There’s a bit more of a mix at city festivals, but the majority are still older. My theory is not just that there isn’t heaps programmed to appeal to 20- and 30-somethings, but that they just can’t really afford it. The older crowds have the spare time and the money for culture. It’s the same reason not a lot of people my age get to the theatre. I love it, but I can only afford a few shows a year. Anyway, that was majorly tangential. I guess I’m trying to do my bit spreading the word on loving lit (and participating in supporting it by buying books and coming to events) via this blog and my Twitter feed.

Where was I? Sunday. After that I finally got to catch up properly with Amy Barker, and a few of us went down to the lake to watch the birds. I had forgotten all about the snake Alex told me about, too. I wish I’d remembered to look for it.

The festival was all but at an end, and I think Jeni Caffin and her team did an awesome job. The volunteers were great, and Pam and Jon, my old bosses, did a great job with the Dymocks festival bookshop and the signings.

There’s so much I didn’t get to in these posts, especially actual informative stuff, but that’s how memory and exhaustion works. I’m being ‘authentic’. I promise my Melbourne Writers Festival blogging will get deeper into the featured books themselves.

One last piece of terribly salacious and superficial gossip (how absurd!) And this is the part I debated putting in but then I know you, the readers, might like it. Apparently at one of the dinners, BEE was having chats with a young male Aus author (YMAA), and young innocent author was very excited to be getting attention (but wondering why there was so much of it) and someone kinda nudged him to suggest what kind of attention this might be. ‘Oh’, I said, when I heard. YMAA said he thought he’d heard BEE talking about not judging or dividing by gender. Having fallen for BEE a bit after his funny, intelligent and kinda defiant ways in the Q&A with Simon on Sun, this added to my BEE *like* factor. ‘So he’s bi?’ I said. YMAA wasn’t sure. And no, I haven’t googled this. And no, I won’t ask him at the interview that will have already occured by the time this post goes up. But really, all the best people are.

For Bret:

See some of you at the BEE event at the Wheeler Centre tonight!

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