2 March 2008

Adelaide Writers' Week, Day 1

I attended 3 sessions today - would have been to 4 if one advertised session had happened, but more about that later.

Opening session: Brian Matthews
Professor Brian Matthews from Flinders University, delivered his 3rd session in as many decades, and opened the week with aplomb and humour. He had the audience in his hand as he told us of his first experience as a session "chair" in 1978 when he upstaged Professor Manning Clark by falling off the back of the stage, chair and all. On his 2nd appearance in 1988 he was part of a panel. It was 44 C outside and about 10 degrees hotter in the tent, when a huge fan grabbed his paper notes and blew them out into the gardens. His panel contribution did not go well. Today was his 3rd appearance and he amused us with cunning word pictures and made us feel glad that we'd come.

Session One: a non-event
According to the printed programme at 12 pm, immediately after the opening, there was to be a dedication to Colin Thiele, the Australian author that I mentioned in yesterday's blog. After Brian had finished talking, Writers' week chair Richard Hosking announced that the next session would not be for another hour. At very least I had expected that someone would talk about Thiele's contribution to education, children's literature, reminding us all of his Barossa Deutsch heritage. Very strange. Didn't they remember to get someone to do this?

Session Two: William McInnes

William McInnes is one of Australia’s most popular stage and screen actors, and in 2005 published his memoir A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby. He was named the Australian Newcomer of the Year (debut writer) 2006 for A Man’s Got to Have a Hobby at the Australian Book Industry Awards. His roles in Sea Change and Blue Heelers have made him a household name, and in 2005 he received critical acclaim for his leading role in the film Look Both Ways, written and directed by his wife Sarah Watt.

William has been nominated for numerous stage and screen awards, and has won a Variety Club Drama Award in 1997 and two Logie awards for Most Outstanding Actor in 2000 and 2004. William grew up in Queensland, studied acting in Perth, and now lives in Melbourne with Sarah Watt and their two children. He plays cricket on the weekend and is a cricket fan(atic). His first novel, Cricket Kings, was released in 2006, and he is now working on his third book.

Until this session I had not given McInnes' s writings serious thought. Now I think I have seriously misjudged him. He is an entertaining speaker and I'm sure he didn't just read us the best bits from his books. He has an occasional blog at http://williamwatch.blogspot.com/

Session Three: Sunday Crime:
Thomas H. Cook, Peter Corris, and Denise Mina.

This panel session addressed the issue of what makes crime fiction such a popular genre. All writers seemed to think that the diversity within the genre, in terms of a remarkable number of sub-genres was something to do with it. Cook said he didn't really think of himself as writing crime or mystery fiction although all his stories have an element of mystery within them He likened what happens in his novels to the peeling of an onion. Corris revealed that while his Cliff Hardy series have accounted for his success, he originally wanted to write historical fiction, but just couldn't get off the ground. He thought the question today was how long crime fiction will be popular. Mina was engaging, saying that mostly her stories were based on tales she had heard, and that therefore what keeps crime fiction going is that it reflects what happens in real life.

I've read very little Corris, but he is now up to #34 in the Cliff Hardy series. Check the list at Aust Crime Fiction. UNDERTOW was short listed for the Ned Kelly Award for best fiction in 2007. In 1999 he was awarded a Life Time achievement (Ned Kelly) award by the Crime Writers Association of Australia.

I have read THE CHATHAM SCHOOL HOUSE AFFAIR, THE INTERROGATION (4.6), RED LEAVES (4.8), and THE MURMUR OF STONES (4.7) by Thomas H. Cook and can thoroughly recommend each.

I must confess it is a long time since I have read anything by Denise Mina, although I currently have DECEPTION (aka SANCTUM) out from the library. Her website is at http://www.denisemina.com In 2007 THE DEAD HOUR was an Edgar Award nominee.


Anonymous said...

I've read Red Leaves and the Murmur of Stones from the THC books you list, and one or two others. I did/do like them, but am finding a strong similarity between them -- nasty parent, portentous sense of threat hanging over, etc.

Kerrie said...

Brian Matthews a good choice


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