I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Thursday 10 April 2014

10 Reasons Why I LOVED the Newcastle Writers Festival 2014

The Newcastle Writers Festival 2014 was an overwhelming success. I had the opportunity of working with the festival director and library staff on the Kids Program. I saw this as an opportunity of a lifetime and not as hard work (even though it was hard work!!) So instead of giving a day-by-day recount of what happened, I thought it would be fun to do a ‘Top 10’ list of what I loved about the festival from the inside.

1: The opportunity to work behind the scenes

In late 2013, I regularly met with the festival director and Newcastle library staff to help plan the Kids Program. In the final stages I organised the volunteers for the 4-day Kids Program. I learned loads of festival organisation tips. Festival organisation is an art form! I found it fun to know all the surprises in the program before it was launched.

2: The opportunity to meet new people

I met some beautiful Newcastle people including festival board members, local library staff, teachers, parents, children, media personnel, other local authors and poets, as well as our visiting guests. What an amazing experience to meet so many new people in such a concentrated timeframe.

Oliver Phommmavanh
Gerry Bobsien
3: The volunteers

I helped organise 16 volunteers who supervised author/illustrator talks and workshops across the four festival days. Every one of them professionally and willingly attended their rostered session. No task was too hard or too ridiculous. Their loyalty was priceless. Volunteers are truly the glue at festivals.

4: The authors and illustrators

Mixing with professionals such as Aaron Blabey, Tristan Bancks, Gerry Bobsien, Oliver Phommavanh, Liz Anelli, Leila Rudge, Jesse Blackadder, Deborah Kelly and many more make planning and volunteering worthwhile. Getting to know these wonderful people on a more personal level was lovely.

Leila Rudge
Aaron Blabey
It was surreal working in the Lovett Gallery surrounded by the work of Shaun Tan as part of ‘The Lost Thing’ Exhibition. It was such a shame he couldn’t make it to our festival.

5: The children

Watching children meet their favourite authors/illustrators, have their photo taken with them, and then watch them leave skipping with autographed books left me covered in goosebumps.

Tristan Bancks
On the Wednesday, we hosted 125 pre-schoolers and 25 primary school students. On the Thursday we entertained 659 primary students and 15 high school students. On the Friday we inspired 824 primary school students. Saturday’s visitors would have the made the total number of children through the festival over 2000. Enough said!

Tristan Bancks
6: The buzz

Newcastle buzzed, staff buzzed and children buzzed.

I remember walking three blocks back to my car on the Thursday afternoon in the rain, not caring about getting wet. I was on a high for hours after each day. I would come home buzzing about my day and retelling every detail to my children and husband.

7: The books

I loved the sight of hundreds of new children’s books in piles on tables. I loved seeing our guest authors/illustrators at the end of these tables signing books. I came home with many signed books and an original illustration (or two!).



8: The support

My family, community, guests, and schools showed so much support for this festival. It was overwhelming to hear the positive feedback and appreciation for all the hard work.

9: The fun

I had the privilege of providing local hospitality to our visiting children’s authors who were staying in town on the Thursday night of the festival. This involved schnitzels, wine and a lot of chatter. Hopefully our guests felt like they were at home with long lost friends.

Another fun experience included going on a bear hunt six times in one day – each time doing it like I had never done it before. A complete aerobic workout!

I lost count how many stairs are between the Lovett Gallery (Level 2 in Newcastle Library) out into Laman Street, down the Civic Park fountain steps, across King Street, then up 2 flights of stairs in Town Hall to the Hunter Room, and back again – sometimes just to deliver an unwanted projector or a handful of pencils. Another complete aerobic workout!

 10: The return

The NWF is coming back on 20-22 March, 2015. Save the date!

I’ve already started thinking about who our guests could be during the Kids Program next year. I have big plans and big names in my thoughts. I can’t wait to do it all again next year – once I catch up on the rest of my life which I put on hold during the festival.

See you all next year at the NWF 2015!