Arrived back from a trip to Melbourne and a conference I like to attend whenever I can (although driving for a couple of hours last night through torrential rain and flash floods, I might add, so maybe we're getting the left-overs from NSW's State of Emergency floods).
Anyway, highlights of this year's VATE conference included Lili Wilkinson and Mike Shuttleworth from the Centre for Youth Literature talking about Young Adult fiction. Given that I spend most of my time immersed in adult fiction, but would like to get back to YA at some point, it was illuminating to hear them talk about some of the genres that YA has slipped into: Dead Girls, Dystopia, Paranormal/Urban Romance and Sexuality. Thought I should pass on a plug to a couple of websites associated with their work here: the wonderful insideadog.com.au ("a website for young people about books") and a children's picture book exhibition (hard copy and online).
Other highlights included hearing what Thomas Caldwell (here's his Cinema Autopsy blog if you're interested in film too) had to say about Film and the Age of the Spectacle - isn't it great when someone manages to clearly articulate everything you think you've been thinking about something?! - and, having been a fan of her column in The Age (until she was sacked), listening to Catherine Deveny play with words. While I thought her claim that she doesn't set out to be thought-provoking or controversial a tad hollow, I enjoyed watching her perform and developing a bit of rhetoric, but was stunned by the defensiveness of a couple of audience members and the apparent refusal to actually hear or understand what she was saying. (Seeing that I'm plugging everything I enjoyed, here's her website.)
And as for Ramona Koval (presenter of The Book Show on ABC Radio National) who gave the keynote address on The Literary Interview - what an engaging and intelligent personality. I could have sat and listened to her for another hour at least. I'm still trying to work out how it is that someone who was brought up through the medium of broken English can become so incredibly articulate (her parents were multilingual but, as migrants, they chose to use the language of their adopted country at home) - and wonder if this approach should be adopted by more parents! Hmm. (Here's the ABC's profile on Ramona.)