AUSTRALIA: Thanks, Reading Matters!!
I recently got home from the trip of a lifetime: ten days visiting three cities in Australia!! The kind and wonderful folks from the State Library of Victoria brought me down under as a guest of their bi-annual Reading Matters festival, a YA literature conference in Melbourne, with a satellite event in Brisbane! After that, Dave and I headed to Sydney for a few days, just as tourists.
Now. On to the photos.
We landed in Brisbane after 20 hours of travel, early in the morning on my 36th birthday. We intended to crash, but were too giddy to explore a new part of the world, and ended up having the most glorious, sunny, treat-filled day, complete with new friends and new experiences! For the next couple of days, Tim Sinclair and I were the authors on the roster at a mini-conference, a library workshop, and several schools. It was great.
Melbourne is kind of Australia's Seattle. Everyone drinks coffee while walking around in the rain, there are bookstores and indoor/outdoor markets and alleyways with cute little cafes and museums and sweeping water views. The main Reading Matters conference happened in Melbourne, and I met SO MANY amazing people in our 4 days there. I also spent a lot of time on stage, introducing a whole new community to the joys of graphic novels. Graphic novels haven't quite "hit" in Australia the way they have in the states, but I think that's going to change soon, based on the reception me and my work received. I left Melbourne absolutely buzzing with enthusiasm and book love.
How could we go all the way to Australia and not see Sydney? Dave and I took ourselves there for a few days before heading back to the states. We saw a bit of rain and a lot of sun, the amazing VIVID installation happening all over town; went to the zoo and met a baby koala; took a cruise around the harbour, walked from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach (where Garth Nix and his wonderful family hosted us for dinner), and wished we'd had more time to explore such an amazing, beautiful city. We ate a LOT of good food and got lost a few times and enjoyed the winter sunshine reflecting on Sydney's landmarks. Goodness. If you get a chance to go, GO!!!
My utmost thanks to the Centre for Youth Literature and State Library of Victoria's amazing staff: Adele Walsh, Anna Burkey, Jordi Kerr, Nicole Armstrong, Heath Graham, and the rest of your terrific colleagues. The awesome employees from Readings bookstore, event sponsor, who sold out of my books almost immediately! The librarians, teachers, school admins, and students of Brisbane, for welcoming me into their classrooms with open arms. The librarians and students from Melbourne and beyond who attended the conference, coming from as far away as New Zealand, Indonesia, and every Australian state!
I also LOVED meeting all of the authors at the festival. A small group allows everyone the chance to bond, and these folks are all top notch. Thanks, and "hope to see you again soon," to Garth Nix, Libba Bray, Gayle Forman, Tim Sinclair, Myke Bartlett, Paul Callaghan, John Flanagan, Morris Gleizman, Fiona Wood, Vikki Wakefield, Alison Croggan, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Keith Gray, Andrew McGahan, and Gabrielle Williams. You guys made the long trip feel like I was very close to home.