Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Perth Writers’ Festival”

Perth Writers’ Festival 2014

My annual pilgrimage to the Perth Writers’ Festival is over for another year. According to reports, I was joined by 38,500 other reading and writing fans, with ticket sales up on last year (can someone confirm that figure, I thought I read it here but I must have been mistaken. Edit: confirmed figure from WritingWA).

Some write-ups have discussed the heat; we are 1.6 degrees hotter than the long term average for February: thanks climate change! Some write-ups have discussed the wonderful talks from literary authors; can’t be less entertaining than their books. Some write-ups have tried to imply that Perth people gasped when Scott Ludlam used the word crap; yes we clearly are a simple folk over here in the west, not accustomed to swearing and impolite behaviour like taking notes. So I hereby present my write-up.

Friday 21st

I started off my festival adventure with the panel discussion Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Susan May chaired a discussion on writing, publishing, and thrilling books with Chris Allen and Joe Ducie. It was an interesting session, although Joe is not what you’d call a gregarious person and he is limited in what he can say without being sent to a black site for breaking the secrets act. This session attracted a lot of teen readers, a first for any writers’ festival I’ve been to, in part due to the young adult theme of Joe’s book and Chris’ campaign to get more boys reading. Also, why is it that the nice and friendly people always seem to write the books with the largest body counts?

My plans for the day were beaten with a cricket bat when the session Fair Go Mate was filled past standing room only. Not being able to gain admittance I’m going to say the session was clearly for doo-doo heads. Instead, I went and saw The Inner Life of Others. Amanda Curtin discussed building and writing characters with Debra Adelaide, Chris Womersley and Andrea Goldsmith. I was sitting next to the fan for one of the much-needed air conditioners for this session. So while I was quite cool and sweat free, I couldn’t hear the speakers clearly. I think in future the festival need monitors for the speakers or better technicians on hand to get the sound levels right.

I had hoped to see the session Boom Town Rats in the afternoon, as David Whish-Wilson was speaking. He wrote my favourite novel of 2013 after-all. I had to settle for asking him how things went via Facebook: apparently it was an interesting discussion session. Instead I went to Annabel Smith’s workshop on Social Media Marketing. Annabel discussed various aspects of social media and the Hub and Outpost model, with your blog/website being the hub. We had a range of people in the room from social media novices to professionals, and a couple of people who didn’t see the point – I mean, being able to talk and form communities with people on the other side of the planet instantly is so overrated. Annabel did well in catering to such a wide spectrum.

Saturday 22nd

Lee Battersby’s fantasy writing workshop, Universal Law, kicked off my Saturday with a teddy bear explaining humans to aliens (you had to be there). This was a fantastic session and I got a lot out of it. Okay, that could just be confirmation bias talking, because Lee did confirm a lot of my own thoughts on fantasy and fiction writing in general, but I’m just going to pretend we’re both right. Plus, I’ve got the beginnings of a cool little absurdist short story from the session, which may have made the session pay for itself.

Hungry and in need of golden ale refreshments, I headed to the UWA Club. David Marr was holding court with a throng of fans/questioners/listeners after having finished his discussion panel. I was tempted to join the group and ask him when he was going to finally stab Andrew Bolt to death for crimes against journalism, but decided to not ruin his day.

After a leisurely lunch at the UWA Club, I skipped the next beer and went to The Game Changers: What’s In Store? Stephanie “Hex” Bendixsen chaired a fascinating discussion about the games industry and story telling. Dan Golding, Dan Pinchback, and Guy Gadney were all insightful speakers and kept the audience of preteens to curmudgeons entertained. Guy Gadney also showed a quick wit when a young lad couldn’t remember Guy’s name, with the boy ending up on stage answering questions (which he handled quite well).
Hex-and-special-guest-panelist

Although, as if to prove that the games industry has a long way to go, or that men are still dickheads, one of the audience members started his question with “Damn girl, you fine!” when addressing Hex. If there was only some way to breed this behaviour out of the population….

The next session I attended was Hi-Viz Days with author and comedian Xavier “Matty” Toby. As a general rule I don’t read non-fiction, as it is often more fiction than non-fiction, is often boring, and has far too low a body count to be entertaining for me. But having attended this session and listened to Xavier read out some sections from the book, I would recommend you read his book about his mining experiences. Having lived in rural Australia for a large chunk of my life, a lot of the conversations, the style of speech, and the characters portrayed sounded like the people I’ve met and know. A few award winning authors should read Xavier’s book to see how rural and regional people actually speak (or at least hand back the awards for capturing the ‘bush lyricism’ in their novels).

Sunday 23rd

My Sunday started rather early. Or rather, my Saturday didn’t really finish until Sunday morning. My little bundle of joy was ill and had trouble sleeping, which meant I did too. It also meant I’ve contracted his illness: parenting is lots of fun.

I’d already missed one of David Whish-Wilson’s sessions on the Friday, but I went the whole hog and missed his Sunday session as well. His interview on Perth, the city and his non-crime, non-fiction book, on Sunday apparently went well (full house). David assured me that there were plenty of interviews being done around the festival on this book. Which means if we check his webpage we could probably track down an interview with David on Perth; the book and the city.

The only event I managed to attend on Sunday was Susan May’s workshop on Standing Out From the Crowd. It turns out that Susan and I had been in the same all day workshop on publishing a few Perth Writers’ Festivals ago. Her take-away from that event had been to avoid the slush pile and somewhere along the way, after developing industry contacts to help avoid the slush pile, she self-published. I agree with one of the other attendees that Susan’s session was enthusiastic and genuine.

And that concludes my Perth Writers’ Festival adventure for another year. It was good to catch up with friends and other attendees over the three days and I hope others enjoyed the event as much as I did.

Top Suspense Hangout video

Today was the start of the Perth Writers’ Festival, the local festival for my fellow pale, short-sighted, readers and writers. Once a year we gather together to fulfil our in-person social interaction requirements for the year.

Before I left the house, Libby Hellmann, Lee Goldberg, and Paul Levine had a Top Suspense Google+ Hangout. They discussed a number of issues around writing suspense stories. Funny how the title of the group and hangout gives away the topic. It was a good session and I highly recommend my fellow writing friends to have a watch of the embedded video below.

Perth Writers’ Festival 2013

Another year has come and gone for my local writers’ festival. Once again I joined my fellow reading nerds and aspiring authors to descend upon the grounds of UWA. This year there were 30,000 of us who felt the need to spend three days of lovely weather discussing books.

This year I spent a lot of the three day in writing workshops and less time at discussion/interview sessions. There is always room for improvement in writing, so what better way than sitting down with an expert and two dozen peers to discuss and practice. I’d like to thank the various experts who all had some interesting insights and tips: Susan Midalia (short stories – literary focus), Belinda Castles (finding your voice and turning that story into reality), LA Larkin (thriller writing, great tips and she is also running a longer course with the Sydney Writers Centre) and Parker Bilal (crime writing, developing the characters and structure).

This isn’t to say that I didn’t get the chance to see any talks. The discussion of Antarctica was fascinating and puts it on the list of places I’d like to visit before climate change has its wicked way with it. The discussion with Major General John Cantwell and former WA premier Geoff Gallop about why it is necessary to help remove the stigma around mental illness was fantastic. John managed to pretend he wasn’t suffering PTSD for 20 years, which is just amazing considering some of the the ramifications it was having on him. Another great session was with David Petrarca, Sue Masters and James Bradley discussing how TV storytelling now rivals cinema and literature. It is quite clear that subscription TV and services like Netflix are changing the game for production of TV, which is why we are seeing great writing, great acting and decent budgets to give us programming I actually want to watch. James Bradley made a very poiniant comment: we have to stop ragging on Master Chef and other boring and mindless TV shows, their popularity allows decent TV to be funded. Finally, on Sunday I was introduced to two new (for me) authors in the panel discussion on thrillers with Andrew Croome, LA Larkin and Steve Worland. I’m looking forward to reading Andrew and Steve’s books, and of course Louisa’s new novel Thirst.

But, now the festival is over for another year. This picture sums up the take home message for me from this year’s Perth Writers’ Festival:

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Perth Writers’ Festival 2012

I can’t believe that it was over a week ago that the Perth Writers’ Festival finished. This year was a much bigger and better affair, showing Perth is worth flying to, despite being out-of-the-way, from everything other than Perth. What better time to present a recap of my highlights than now. Warning, this post doesn’t contain my usual sarcasm, satire, humour and insults directed at the author James Patterson.

Publishing Seminar

An entire day on how to get into publishing: sounds like a good idea. One hundred and forty of us were in the comfort of an air-conditioned tent to listen to publishers, manuscript assessors, agents, lawyers, union (yes, Australia Society of Authors, I’d call it a union) and book sellers. Hard to sum up an entire day of information in a few words, so I’ll make some general comments. The industry is still generally a positive field, but don’t give up your day job. There was a lot of talk about the industry having declined – 17.5% in December, 21.5% January, 29.5% to second week of February – and the usual memes were rolled out (E-books, etc), although it was good to hear some realists talking about overpricing and particular market segments. I got a lot out of the day, like having my need to write poetry stifled for good, with the realisation that Penguin compiled a “best-loved” Australian poetry collection and sold 700 copies. But it has to be said, it is good to see the gender balance in writing, being one of thirty men in the room of one hundred and forty. It is also amazing that, for a group of writers who are supposedly skilled at expressing themselves, there was a lack of ability to orally express opinions and statements (I’m biased, having a background in extension). I’d also like to acknowledge the guy, who is at every writers’ festival, by quoting him “I have a bestseller” with the caveat “not quite finished yet.”

Pants on Fire

This session was all about writing perspective. Who wants to read an honest character? Every character is lying to themselves about something, creating that flawed and unreliable narrator that people love. Is the writer really lying to the reader by keeping them in suspense? Probably, but I’d like to think of it as telling the truth at a certain pace.

Sex, Lies and Literature

I love sessions that end up, inevitably, discussing censorship. This is topical, given the recent PayPal directive made to Smashwords. My general opinion on censorship was upheld by the presenters and assembled crowd, even if we were having a reading of octopus tentacle bestiality as a prelude to the discussion. An interesting article from the 1930’s was read, apparently women at that time had worries about the same body issues they have now.

Banality of Politics

Combine a respected reporter, a biographer and a politician who actually has something worth saying, and you have the recipe for one statement. Politics has become about distracting the general voting masses with shiny objects. George Megalogenis provided his usual erudite insights, and Andrew Robb proved he is still one of the few politicians worth voting for (Lindsay Tanner having retired).

Reading In An Age of Change

Book stores are going the way of the literate high school graduate. This session was all about what the future holds for book sellers and how the market will change. Alan Sheardown made some very poignant points about the industry. Running an indie book store he understood what was actually happening with book sales and how to keep the customers. I also became a Kobo fan after hearing Malcolm Neil’s thoughts and comments. There have already been rumours starting about Kobo being the other e-book market after Amazon, after this session I have little doubt. Malcolm didn’t pull any punches.

Enigmatic Individuals

All I really have to say about this session is that Western Australian authors are alive and well, especially in crime fiction. Keep an eye out for us, we’re awesome!

Not Everyone Gets to Eat Like We Do

As much as I love intellectual discussion, I really do wish more intellectuals would give some credit to agriculture. Tim CostelloDavid RieffTom KeneallyKatie Smith Milway and Carmen Lawrence spent this session discussing various aspects of the food demands of the world. Unfortunately Katie was the only one that had any agricultural knowledge. Despite this, the discussion made some good points about the need for a shift in government focus and how poorer nations need support, not handouts.

Crime Writing for Dummies

The Saturday morning writing seminar was not actually for dummies. Felicity Young took us through a few activities, including a group plotting exercise. Our group killed off Jo Nesbo with a hardcover edition of his first novel, Redbreast. His body was discovered by one of the class after the white peacock on the grounds was seen covered in blood – Redbreast: we were hilarious! I think the team has a bestseller in the works after this session.

It Just Feels Real

Lauren Beukes needs to give up coffee. She destroyed her laptop prior to the writing workshop. I know that computers always say coffee resistant on the label, but I bet they only test it on espressos. Lauren took us through a few different exercises and examples of good and bad prose. She also gave me some good feedback on my writing, so I feel like I’m on the right track.

A Glass of Wine and a Good Book

David Whish-Wilson interviewed Felicity Young whilst the audience relaxed with a lovely wine or three. David ran the workshop I attended on writing last year, so it was two of my writing tutors in one session. It was a good discussion, but the wine was even better. Check out Lamont’s winery, their white was the perfect end to the day.

Phantom

Take one international bestselling crime novelist, known for his talent and wit, not to mention a former career as a successful musician, and you should have a great evening. Pity the interviewer wasn’t up to the challenge. Either way, I got my novels signed by Jo. I remember having heard of Jo Nesbo as a result of his awards for crime writing. You would think that stores would stock his books as a result, but they didn’t. I ended up ordering Nemesis online (Booktopia rocks) only to find all of his novels in an indie store a week later. Another reason the big stores are dying.

I Believe In An Open Mind – But Not So Open My Brain Falls Out

If I had one highlight of the festival it has to be this Sunday session. The speakers were Misha KetchellStephen LewandowskyAlom Shaha and James Paterson, and had a hearty discussion about science, communication, the media, think tanks (of which James is editor of the notorious IPA) and climate change. Alom was someone I hadn’t head of before and it was great to hear his contributions. It was also great to meet Stephen and Misha in person after the session.

Northern Lights

This was the second session I went to with Jo Nesbo featuring. This time he was joined by Johan Harstad, and a decent interviewer, Mark Naglazas. The discussion was around how fantastic the Scandinavians are at converting oil wealth into societal wealth, which trickles down into supporting the arts. Both authors had interesting things to say and Mark got the best out of them.

Truth In News

The media are a funny bunch. It was only in the previous day that George Megalogenis was discussing how poor a job the media did, yet this session was all back patting. I admire the journalists that take the time to really dig their teeth into a story, do the hard yards and learn about their subject. There will have to be more of it in the future, well, unless we just want to know celebrity gossip.

Congratulations to the organisers for putting together a great event. I look forward to next year’s event.

A new site for a new year

Right What You No is now TysonAdams.com

That’s right, the blog you know and love is a year old, and with all things that get older in the entertainment industry, it was time for a facelift.

Blogger was a good platform, but I’ve decided to try WordPress with my own dot com address. Hope you all like the change.

Stay tuned: Rex Jameson has agreed to discuss his new book with me and the interesting reviews he has had recently; and I’m off to the Perth Writers’ Festival later this week, so I will have much to report on from that – can’t wait to meet Jo Nesbo.

Perth Writers’ Festival 2012

It is a busy day today. I have been booking my itinerary for the Perth Writers’ Festival for 2012.

I really enjoyed myself at the festival last year and am looking forward to this year’s event. For anyone who wants to go or just wants to see what is happening, check out the links for the program. Jo Nesbo will be there, so crime writing is well represented.

Online itinerary.
Download the brochure.

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