Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
  • Archives
  • May3rd

    Speculate 18

    Posted in: Articles

     

    R to L, Elizabeth Flux, Me, Alison Arnold, Amie Kaufman, Michael Earl

    It was an honour, being asked to be one of the guest writers at the very first Speculate Festival, held on Saturday 28 April 2018, and such was the wave of enthusiasm at the end of that inspirational, exhilarating day that I thought I’d record a few impressions of from a guest’s point of view.

    Speculate was what I’d call a boutique festival. A couple of hundred attendees, eighteen speakers, a band and a bookshop. The day had a single program stream, but so thoughtful were the organisers that the subject of each session was entertaining and enlightening for everyone.

    Speculate positioned itself as a festival ‘writers of speculative fiction from any and all backgrounds’ and that carefully considered raison d’être neatly set it apart from other festivals. Yes, it happily accommodated spec fic readers, but the shout out to those who want to write in this supremely rewarding area was welcome.

    And what a roll call of guests! Alison Arnold, Trudi Canavan, Michael Earp, Elizabeth Flux, Alison Goodman, Laura E Goodin, Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Earl Livings, Andrew McDonald, Ben McKenzie, Sean McMullen, Rose Michael, Brooke Maggs, Mark Smith, Dirk Strasser and Maize Wallin.

    And me. I was there too.

    This line-up enabled the organisers to schedule thought-provoking and engrossing sessions about language, location, the history and state of play in speculative fiction and even a hugely entertaining and highly musical spontaneous role playing game.

    I’d like to commend the organisers and the volunteers on the way the day ran. I’ve been to many, many festivals and conferences, and Speculate was a model of seamless, smooth running. I’m sure there were hiccups behind the scenes, but all the guests and the audience were oblivious to that. Our experience was first class.

    While flinging out the kudos, I need to say that the way we were handled, as guests, was outstanding. In the run up to the festival, we were kept in the loop and up to speed at all times, and left in no doubt as to our role and our responsibilities as presenters. The green room facilities were top flight – those cupcakes! – and the lunch was both timely and delicious. I’d hold up the arrangements here as a model for other festivals to follow.

    What else? The social media coverage was excellent, allowing people who weren’t there to share some of the flavour of the day. The venue worked exceedingly well – compact enough to encourage mingling, but spread out enough to allow those looking for a nook with a little privacy to discuss the wonders they’d just seen.

    I could start naming names to thank those responsible for the experience, but the trouble is that I’d miss someone out and you’re ALL deserving of praise. I must, however, give virtual bouquets to Joel Martin, Ian Laking, Alex Fairhill, Luke Manly, Rachelle Dekker, Ophelia, Isabella, Zoe, Melissa, Edna, Ed, Simone, David, Brett and Shanei plus anyone else I’ve shamefully neglected to mention.

    Speculate Festival was a splendid day, magnificently organised and implemented. Long may it continue.

    Share it:

  • March15th

    authors at lunch

    Authors at lunch

    Look at this for a roll call of kids and YA authors: Deb Abela, Felice Arena, Tim Baker, Tristan Bancks, the multiple person who is Angelica Banks, David Burton, Peter Carnavas, Nick Earls, Carmen Gray, Dave Hackett, Leanne Hall, Jacquie Harvey, Nicole Hayes, Jack Heath, Megan Jacobson, Andy Jones, Leisel Jones, Luka Lesson, Alice Pung, Chris Richardson, Matthew Ryan, Lian Tanner, Paula Tierney, Gabrielle Tozer, Frances Watts, Lesley Williams, Tammy Williams, Fiona Wood and Claire Zorn. Whew! That’s a stellar line-up in anyone’s terms and the breadth and diversity of offerings is a tribute to the organizers of the latest Somerset Celebration of Literature, which I was lucky enough to be part of last week – 8 to 11 March 2016 on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

    photo credit Chris Richardson

    That’s me – photo credit Chris Richardson

    And what a time was had by all. Consider the numbers. 20,000 tickets were sold to individual sessions. I repeat, 20,000! That’s a lot of young readers seeing their favourite authors in person, possibly for the first time, and getting irreplaceable insights into the craft of books and writing. Even more impressively, Somerset College funded a thousand kids from regional Queensland schools and the Northern Territory and helped them attend the festival. That sort of contribution to the community is remarkable and deserves recognition.

    The result was four days of outstanding fun, full of talk, sharing and high spirits all dedicated to the wonderful world of books, reading and writing. I was in my element.

    photo credit Elke Schneider

    I talk the good talk – photo credit Elke Schneider

    As a measure of the enthusiasm of the attendees, I had a workshop session with Grade 6 students, late on the Wednesday. In order to get to the festival on time, some of these kids had been up since 4.30 that morning – and in this workshop they were still keen, good-humoured and totally on task. Of course, the teachers deserve enormous buckets of credit, too. They go above and beyond the call of duty in organising these squads of students and then shepherding through the whole experience. They are worth their weight in gold.

    From an author’s point of view, the festival is exemplary. In some ways, it’s a chance for some author professional development as we can slip into the back of our colleagues’ presentations and glean some tips, as well as having a chance to discuss the nitty-gritty of the writing industry over the excellent coffee in the salubrious Green Room.

    One way to ensure that a festival is memorable for authors is to make sure that it’s smoothly organised. Here, Somerset Celebration is a model for others to aspire to. Managing scores of sessions, a multitude of venues and a motley bunch of authors could be seen as a challenge, but the Somerset crew made everything run like clockwork – aided by the many, many cheerful and hospitable volunteers who were essential in making everything hum along.

    In thanking Andrea Lewis, Karen Mackie, Anna Kirkby, Lisa Thomson and Cecilia Robertson I’m sure I’m neglecting to name others who contributed – please forgive me.

    The Somerset Celebration of Literature is one of the high points in Australia’s literary calendar. It was a privilege to attend.

    authors at Literary Dinner

    Authors at the final night’s Literary Dinner – photo credit Dave Hackett

    Share it:

  • April14th

    gold coast supanova 6

    Many more pix below the break!

    I’m just coming out of a very busy – but delightful – fortnight where I was a guest at Supanova Gold Coast and Melbourne. It’s good to see this popular culture extravaganzas having a healthy reading and writing stream (thanks to Ineke Prochazka) with so many fans flocking to chat with authors and have books signed. For me, it’s a chance to catch up with people I’ve known a long time, like Isobelle Carmody or David Cornish, but also to meet people I’ve known about for ages, like Jim Butcher. We do panels together, we chat between sessions, we share seats on the bus – it’s a very convivial time in a world of books, reading and writing, which is one of the many reasons I have the best job in the world. At least, for me it is.

    Even though Supanova (and the other similar festivals/conventions/hootenannys) have their celebrities, guests and megastars, the days really belong to the fans who come along in stonkingly great numbers. Tens of thousands of them roll up in their finery and have a couple of days of sensory overload.

    While there, I get to see many, many, many of these fans as they stroll past the author area. I’m always impressed by the effort that many put into their costumes. Many hours of dedication is needed to achieve the perfection that they attain, and their reward is the approbation of their peers. Read More | Comments

    Share it:

  • July27th

    Here’s my schedule for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, which I’m looking forward to greatly. It’s always a superb occasion with so much to see and do. Hope to see you all there.

    Making Magic with Michael Pryor – Saturday 24 August 2013 at 2.30 pm.

    ‘Create complex, believable worlds for your next fantastic adventure story and come away with strategies, ideas and inspiration for your own writing. Michael Pryor has more than 25 published novels and is an experienced guide in the world of fantasy fiction.

    Suitable for children aged 8 to 12.

    Science Fiction, Science FactWednesday 28 August 2013 at 12.30 pm

    ‘Scott Westerfeld and Michael Pryor talk about the inventions and ideas first put forward in fiction, later proved to be fact – or wildly off the mark. Who is the better guide: scientist or novelist? Or does the future rely on both?’

     

    Share it:

  • September17th

    In May this year, as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Powerhouse Museum invited me to participate in their  in their ‘Writer Overnighter’ extravaganza. I’ve written about it here, but here’s a fine photographic pictorial, courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum.

     

     

     

    Share it:

  • September18th

    A picture is worthA  couple of days devoted to books, reading and writing and talking about books, reading and writing can’t be a bad thing, can it? The ‘A Thousand Words Festival‘ (yes, that’s actually correct) is on this Friday and Saturday (23 and 24 September) at the Northcote Town Hall. Lots of great writers will be appearing – Leanne Hall, Cath Crowley, Tim Pegler, Holly Harper, Andrew McDonald, Steph Bowe, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell, Marisa Pintado, Sally Rippin, Sue deGennaro, Aimee Said and bloggers Megan Burke and Bec Kavanagah. A great line-up and it promises to be a fun time. See you there!

     

    Share it: