Live and Local, SWF and Kate DiCamillo

It was a writerly weekend.

On Saturday, the Sydney Writers Festival was literally streaming into the Gong Town Hall. The program included live-streamed sessions from the Big Show in Sydney and local events in between. The highlight for me was Catherine McKinnon in conversation. Catherine is the local author of Storyland, a novel receiving critical acclaim everywhere and an extremely glowing review from me. I loved it.



I ran a workshop called Planning for Publication. I was all set to show how to create a project plan to work towards getting published. It worked for me! But I quickly recognised the eclectic group of attendees was looking for something different and we had a lively and informative round table discussion. Even though I didn’t use anything I’d prepared – except the first line (Hello, I’m Sandy Fussell) – it was one of the most fun workshops I’ve delivered.

On Sunday I hopped the train to Sydney with Sue Whiting, to bask in the brilliance that is Kate DiCamillo. Sue and I have long been huge fans. My first blog, back forever ago, was called Stories are Light based on my favourite quote from The Tale of Despereaux.

“Stories are light. Light is precious in a word so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”



Kate was brilliant, but so humble. I loved how she spoke 15 mins targeted to the host of adults who  had come to hear her, and spent most of the time answering questions from the kids (all of the answers to which were of great interest to the adults, too). A class act.


The only other event we went to was the Illustrator Challenge, thanks to some fast-taking and free-wheeling dealing by James Foley who snaffled Leila Rudge and Gus Gordon‘s free tickets for Sue, Kelly Canby and me. How’s that for casually name-dropping four wonderful illustrators in a sentence? I’m always in awe of illustrators and watching them drawing at the speed of light to audience suggestions, only overwhelmed even more.

The next day I racked up 1,004 words of my work-in-progress Algernon and the Outside Girl. That’s the effect of a writerly weekend.



Subscribe to my newsletter


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *