Over the last two days I have been making speeches, listening to other people make speeches, eating, drinking, networking and just catching up with authors and illustrators from Australia and overseas. The Literature Centre was having its annual two-day Conference which is becoming one of the most popular in the country. Instead of the usual keynote speeches followed by streams of smaller workshop type sessions, The Literature Centre keeps everyone together for two days of serious speeches, funny performances, and experimental audience participation sessions. Illustrators and authors (like Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton, Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood, Jackie French, Mark Greenwood, Frane Lessac and others ) talk about their books. There are Q and A sessions, illustrators demonstrating their techniques and this year an amazing performance by members of a youth theatre group. They used improvisation to present a new picture book story written by Danny Parker, Illustrated by Matt Ottley, accompanied by music, specially written by Matt, and a narrator who read the text. All these sessions were held in the one huge marquee with four big screens around the sides and ‘runners’ with hand-held microphones moving through the crowd during the Q and A times.
The theme of the Conference this year was ‘The Inside Story’ and I was talking about Miss Llewellyn-Jones. I have some of Moira’s early roughs on a USB that I use in classrooms so I was able to show those and talk about the process. The AV company in charge of everything electronic at the Conference collects all the persenters’ visuals the day before and puts them together ( in the right order) into one central computer. It is the most efficient system I have ever seen at a Conference and avoids that disastrous thing where the speaker gets up expecting to speak to visuals they have prepared and nothing works. Not only is that stressful and embarrassing, it wastes a lot of time while everyone is floundering around trying to figure out what has gone wrong. So, apart from the weather which was wild, everything went according to plan. As with all such events a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes and the Director, Lesley Reece, her staff and their energetic team of volunteers are to be congratulated on their vision, their planning and their dedication to the task of bringing authors, illustrators, readers and listeners together for such a stimulating and enjoyable two days.