wheeler centre

TBYL Events: The Next Step

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal the details of the next TBYL Event, which will be held on Wednesday 22 May 2013, 7pm – 8pm at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.

“The Next Steps” is a perfect session for all of us who dream of one day being published, but who aren’t quite sure where to start…

the next step

It’s your chance to get some tips, straight from the source, on how best to achieve your dream of being a published author. TBYL Events is proud to present Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor from Escape Publishing (the exciting new digital publishing arm of Harlequin) and two successful Escape authors Rhian Cahill and Charmaine Ross.

They’ll be sharing their experiences of writing and publishing, offering advice on everything from pitching your ideas, developing your story, manuscript presentation, and hints on the submission process.

This one-hour session is an opportunity to tap into the exciting world of publishing, to ask questions and to share experiences with other aspiring authors.

If you’d like some take-away information, you can download a brochure here and you can find out more about Escape Publishing and our special guests Kate, Rhian and Charmaine on the TBYL website.

Tickets are just $20 ($15 concession) and seats are limited. You can book now…

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Chatting and learning: TBYL Event No. 1

Yesterday I was pretty nervous. I prepped and preened, anxiously awaiting the very first TBYL Event, Making Tough Times Easier.

Late in the afternoon I took my lists, my notes and myself into the Wheeler Centre. Setting up, I waited with baited breath to see what others would make of TBYL’s grand plan to bring bookish people together, in real life.

I’m pleased to report that it was an amazing evening, complete with revealing insights, great conversations and new connections.

Making Tough Times Easier 1

Making Tough Times Easier was an opportunity to explore how picture books can be used to help parents, carers and educators coach kids through challenges, helping them to become resilent and happier kids.

Sometimes little people have to deal with big challenges.

I was thrilled to be joined by four talented and passionate storytellers; Nicky Johnston (Go Away Mr Worrythoughts), Leon James Wisewould and Paul Nash (Mitchell the Pixel) and Bambi Gordon (Oodlies Kids) all of whom shared a little bit about how their books came about, how they hoped to see them help kids and the positive impacts they’ve seen their work have on the readers around them.

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 11.54.45 AM

A common theme across the panel was that of their books being ‘conversation starters’ and this really seemed to resonate with the audience. These important picture books don’t just offer a small lesson in and of themselves, but further encourage children and adults to talk about worries and troubles. They help kids work out ways in which they can overcome challenges, with help and encouragement.

Making Tough Times Easier 4I absolutely loved the questions from the audience, as they teased out more about the process of writing and illustrating, as well as giving rise to a little more information on the issues that kids might face in this day and age. We had some great conversations about recognising anxiety in kids and assisting kids to recognise their troubles and ‘find their own magic.’

Making Tough Times Easier 5I’d hoped to keep the session pretty informal, and at times I really felt that we were just having a good chat about picture books. After the sit-down session there was a chance for everyone to catch up, share their own experiences and ask questions of the authors themselves.

In short, today I’m on cloud nine, and I can’t wait to hold the next TBYL Event. I’ve got some big ideas, and I can’t wait to tell you all about them!

I’ve got to say  a great big thank-you to Nicky, Leon, Paul and Bambi. I would also like to thank Joan and Linda for their help on the night, it’s greatly appreciated, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Making Tough Times Easier 2

If you’d like to purchase any of these author’s books, they’re all available now in the TBYL Store, click below for individual titles…

Go Away Mr Worrythoughts, Nicky Johnston $16.95
Happythoughts are Everywhere, Nicky Johnston $16.95
Mitchell the Pixel, Leon James Wisewould and Paul Nash $16.95
If a Smile Should Lose Its Mouth, Bambi Gordon and Joi Murugavell $15.00
What You Do Is Not Your Who, Bambi Gordon and Joi Murugavell $15.00
I Think I’ve Lost The Magic, Bambi Gordon and Joi Murugavell $15.00

And for a short time only, you can get all 6 books for just $85.85 (saving of $10.00)

Thanks again to everyone who got involved in our first event, you made it a resounding success! Stay tuned for more TBYL Events: book it in… coming soon!

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More writers, more reading: Debute Mondays

A nice, quick post today to report back on the wonderful Wheeler Centre event that I snuck away to see last night. As usual, it took a bit of organising to get out of the house and into the city, but thanks to my lovely Mum and my understanding kids I made it to Debute Monday at The Moat, just in time.

Debute Mondays, run once a month, are an opportunity to hear new fiction straight from authors. In cozy surrounds, in an atmospherically lit corner, four emerging authors kindly shared their words…

Firstly, we heard from Jessie Cole, author of Darkness on the Edge of Town (HarperCollins). Her choice of scene was interesting, a scene in which main character burley Vincent, finds himself in his bathroom assisting a near-stranger manage burning mastitis. It was a perfect example of the starkly practical yet teasingly erotic tone of her novel. My favourite phrase of the evening… “…All bedraggled and broken”

Darkness on the Edge of Town is our TBYL Book Club book for November. You can buy a copy of the book here…

Next we heard a short story from Melbourne-based writer and student Robyn Denison. Her story, Ketchup was bizarre, evocative and beautifully visual. Again, the theme of practical, everyday objects being transformed into something much more was worked in skilfully within this surreal piece of writing. Nearing the end of the piece, Denison’s line “The movement is soothing and the leaving is pure” struck me as quite beautiful.

Next, a change of pace with Zane Lovitt. Sharing a story entitled Comedy is Dead from his crime novel The Midnight Promise (Text Publishing) and narrated by Private Investigator John Dorn, Zane had us squirming in our chairs, a little unsure where to look. His story, set in an adult entertainment store, complete with fake orgasms and associated paraphernalia was funny, irreverant and very noir. Left on a cliff-hanger, the reading left the audience wanting more…

Lastly, the evening was rounded off by the multi-talented, Melbourne-based Edwina Preston who shared a reading from her new novel The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer (UQP). I was completely captivated by the opening description of Canyon, as the type of town that did not yet understand that “large words could contain small meanings.” Even in this short snap-shot, the story was rich with characters – cartoonish but darkly so, their descriptions and roles literal and larger than life. Fascinatingly circus, and a little bit ‘carny,’ this scene brought to mind a strange blend of Nick Cave’s work and Andrew Nicolls’ If You’re Reading this I’m Already Dead.

In short, I’ve now got more books for the reading pile!

If you have a chance, I’d really encourage you to get along to one of the Wheeler Centre’s Debute Mondays. They’re a great way to support new Australian writers and to discover amazing new literature.

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Booked in, now out of my way!

When I started That Book You Like… 18 months ago, I did so with the aim of reading differently. My goal of reading widely and outside my comfort zone has led me to meet a most incredible range of new authors and readers, and most enjoyably, to share them with a fantastic community of bookish people.

I’m pretty sure that this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival will allow for many more such meetings, and I’m thrilled! Enquire Within promises to be a fabulous gathering of wonderful minds from across the world; authors, intellects, commentators and of course, readers.

Here in Melbourne, we are incredibly spoilt for choice. Scarcely a week goes by that there’s not an author event or a big idea on stage, presented by The Wheeler Centre or the many fabulous bookstores and libraries around the state. To me, Enquire Within, Melbourne’s 2012 Writers Festival (running from the 23 August until 2 September) is the delicious icing on the cake of twelve months of amazing literary adventures.

The program promises to not only be entertaining, but also rich with insight, analysis and review:

“Our program addresses questions about liberty and responsibility; it takes inspiration from beautifully told stories; it listens to startling newcomers and intellectual heavyweights; it revels in literary coups and writerly gossip; and it celebrates words and language and hence, life.”

Opening with words from Simon Callow, on Dickens, the festival starts on a high note. This leads a program rich with authors and commentators from across Australia and the world.

The full program is available now, from the Enquire Within website. But here’s a little heads up on what I’ll be attending and reviewing…

Outback Lives, Saturday 25 August
Does rural fiction have an agenda? Is the bush a setting or the reason for the story? Rachael Treasure (The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare), Paddy O’Reilly (The Fine Colour of Rust), and Carrie Tiffany (Mateship with Birds) discuss why they are drawn to tales of life on the land. I’m particularly excited about this one after having chatted to Carrie earlier this year.

In Conversation with Gillian Mears, Sunday 26 August
Her first novel in 16 years, the Miles Franklin-shortlisted Foal’s Bread, has immediately returned Gillian Mears to the literary spotlight. The award-winning author of Ride a Cock HorseThe Mint Lawn and The Grass Sister talks with Ramona Koval about her life, living with MS, and her love of northern NSW, so often the setting for her writing. You can read my review of Foal’s Bread here.

Labor in Vain, Sunday 26 August
As its state governments are blasted from office and its federal fate seems sealed, is the Labor Party in crisis or experiencing hiccups? Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks, Whitlam and Lionel Murphy biographer Jenny Hocking, and former member for Bennelong Maxine McKew, discuss Labor’s present predicaments and its future. Hosted by Laura Tingle.

Speaking Australian with Germaine Greer, Thursday 30 August
To define us is to negate us. Those who are trying to impose a standard English on all the varieties of Australian speech are not simply wasting their time; they are applying an inappropriate notion of standardisation that would crush the life out of the living language. Australians contribute to literary culture all over the English-speaking world. Are they bilingual? Are they secure enough to distinguish between – and enjoy – different kinds of Australian, or are they hamstrung by spurious notions of correctness? In this keynote address Germaine Greer will discuss our language and its use, in an oration that will make you think seriously about our place in the world and the role that language plays in putting us there. Proudly supported by Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.

Are you going to anything at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival?

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Dark, cold, dragony night

I really like going out with my kids, it’s one of my favourite things.

I’ll admit that Oscar can still be a little bit of a handful, but he’s a showman, so what can you expect? Evan on the other hand is pretty much at the perfect hanging out age – good company, old enough to be really interested in what we’re doing, but still just young enough not to be (too) embarrassed to be seen with his daggy old Mum.

I’m making the most of it, because I know it probably wont last for very much longer, and so when I saw that Christopher Paolini, author of the Eragon series (Random House) was coming to Melbourne I thought it would be the perfect night out for Evan and I. Presented by the Melbourne Writers Festival, and the Wheelers Centre it promised to be a fun-filled, fan-filled evening and despite the cold, dark, wet, wintery night, it delivered.

I’ve got to say that I’ve not read any of the Eragon series myself. Sorry. But Evan has read the first three, and is half way through the forth (and final?) in the ‘four part triology’. And, although I’ve not read them myself, I do understand their appeal. They’ve got it all, heros, villains, dwarven languages, battles and journeys and of course lots of dragons. This combination of elements has seen an army of dedicated, extremely loyal fans build around the Inheritance Cycle. Standing in line for the book signing, with hundreds of readers with arms ladened with multiple copies of the four huge tomes, you could be left in no doubt that these people where committed – to the story, and to whatever this inspiring author was ready to do next.

Personally, I was fascinated by the fact that Christopher was only 15-years-old when he wrote the Eragon, the first in the series and couldn’t wait to hear more about what exactly brought that impressive feat about. In short, home schooled, living in Anchorage, Alaska and bored out of his brain, Paolini decided that the only thing to do was to get his head out of other people’s books, and bury himself in creating his own. With family support; as editors, publishers and publicists, Eragon was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s the great self-publishing success story…

Christopher was a very entertaining speaker, and Evan genuinely enjoyed every minute of the event. There were plenty of backstories, in-jokes and teasers, all of which had the audience on the edge of their seats in the hope that they might find out a secret or two about this world they’d clearly immersed  themselves in.

Further, his story is inspiring. In my opinion, it’s fantastic for kids like Evan (and grown-ups too) to hear of someone putting themselves out there, backing themselves and having great success to show for it. I hope it reinforces in Evan’s mind that anything is possible, even if it’s a little out of the ordinary.

I can’t wait until the next of these events comes up, I’m looking forward to another night out with the kid. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the calendar…

In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy watching Evan enjoy reading.


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No-Sport Sunday with Jeff Kinney

Our weekends are often pretty sporty. The boys enjoy there basketball, and as such, Saturday and Sunday is often taken up with playing, watching or talking about basketball of one kind of another. And then, of course, there’s the footy…

But, every now and then I steal one or both of the kids away from all the sporty fun for a bit of a bookish adventure.

Sunday last was one such occasion, when I absconded with Evan into the city to hear from the fantastic Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of  a Wimpy Kid series. Thanks to the Wheeler Centre, we tripped into the Town Hall along with thousands of other eager fans to hear from the talented, very unassuming author.

I was so impressed with Jeff’s story, it was fascinating to hear how his vision for himself as a cartoonist didn’t quite work out the way he thought it would. Rather, with patience and perseverance, his career in fact became about much more than his whimsical drawings. His cartoons and stories communicate a most refreshing connection with childhood, and his obvious commitment to making reading accessible to ‘reluctant readers’ is wonderful to witness.

His very visual presentation was wonderfully entertaining… I particularly liked being able to see how involved he was with the film translation of his book (I’ve often wondered about the author/film-maker relationship), and I think Evan’s favourite part would have to have been the different cover translations of Diary of a Wimpy Kid from around the world, in particularly the banana-ry Brazilian translation! He talked about it all the way home…

The kids were transfixed, Jeff’s presentation was pitched just right. The junior audience laughed and ooh’d and aah’d throughout. Not only that, I was incredibly impressed with the questions that the kids asked at the end of the session – concise, thoughtful and of real interest to the whole audience. Fantastic crowd.

Events like this one provide the most amazing opportunity to engage kids with writing, reading and authors. Just quietly, I like to be able to give Ev and Oscar a little break from the sporty world of weekends, and to encourage something a little more on the bookish side from time to time. These kinds of gigs give me a chance to do this.

Thanks to the Wheeler Centre for the opportunity to see Jeff Kinney this month. Please check out their calendar for some more amazing upcoming events, including evenings with Christopher Paolini and Jodi Picoult.


A couple of fun reminders while I’m here!!

The TBYL Book Club for May started today. Join us at the club to chat about Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.

I’ll be drawing our The Immortal Rules competition at 8pm tonight. Find out how to enter here.

I’m currently getting the June edition of TBYL News: All Things Bookish ready. Don’t forget to subscribe to get it by email, first Monday of the month.

There’s just a couple more days to enter our TBYL News, Mary Bennet give-away. Click here to find out how to enter!


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Freedom of Speech. Over-rated?

Last week, after a busy day in the office I thought I’d better get myself off to a Wheeler Centre gig. It’d been a little while since I’d been to one, and I had tickets, after all.

I wandered up to one of my favourite venues, the Melbourne Town Hall, to attend the latest in the Intelligence Squared Debates (presented by the St James Ethics Centre and the Wheeler Centre.) I expected that the evening would be intelligent, philosophical and perhaps even humorous, and my expectations were most certainly meet. I cast my vote at the door, and took my seat ready to hear six great minds argue for and against the proposition, that “freedom of speech is over-rated.”

It had been a long time since I’d been to a properly run, serious debate. To be truthful, the last time was probably high school, and so I’d forgotten how perplexing they can be. Although I felt pretty certain of which side of the argument I agreed with, I found myself flipping, second guessing and questioning my commitment as each new speaker took to the podium.

The line-up was impressive; Marcia Langton, Michael Gawenda and Catherine Deveny arguing for the proposition and Julian Burnside, Gretel Killeen and Arnold Zable speaking for the opposing side. Without exception, the speakers offered up compelling and intelligent arguments, although I’ll admit that from the outset the negative come across incredibly strongly.

Marcia Langton raised extremely valid and convincing points, examples of the harm that can be brought about by ‘too much’ free speech. Arnold Zable in turn highlighted the frightening damage that can be done through ‘too little’.

Catherine Deveny, in true irreverent style, brought to bear an argument that not only was freedom of speech over-rated, but also that it was practically imaginary. In her opinion; “…some of the people could say some of the things, some of the time.” The rest of us, if not in this select group, suffered greatly if we dared to speak our mind. Gretel Killeen did not entirely disagree with this argument, although she did go on to demonstrated that even if freedom of speech did not exist, that this didn’t mean that it wasn’t incredibly important. In her opinion, it was in fact greatly under-rated, and was a freedom well worth fighting to obtain and maintain.

The final speakers, Michael Gawenda and Julian Burnside QC were both highly intelligent and incredibly entertaining. Michael Gawenda focused on the importance of facts, on the need for speech (free or otherwise), opinions or media to be based on factual realities. To use freedom of speech to excuse, or indeed validate lies or fallacies was a great crime indeed. Again, the speaker for the negative Julian Burnside QC agreed with this, and went on to say that freedom of speech, as it stands today does not, and should not, include the freedom to tell lies, or to mislead.

The fight was won with Burnside. He’s a sly one, and he turned the debate on its head at this point. He complimented the affirmative team, and highlighted how their careers, their life’s works were in fact great testaments to the importance of freedom of speech and that they had in fact worked to ensure that others could be assured of a certain, and potentially increasing, level of freedom to express their views, beliefs and opinions.

After questions, comments and final arguments from both teams, a debate winner was declared. The evening went to the negative team, freedom of speech was NOT over-rated. The victory was convincing.

This was a fascinating evening, and I’m looking forward to the next debate, on an equally contentious issue “Foreign Aid is a Waste of Money.”

Next up though, it’s looking like Ev and I will be enjoying an evening out together to hear from the very funny Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We can’t wait! Tickets are available if you’d like to join in the fun…

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On the calendar

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve fairly well had my head constantly in one book or another. This, of course is one of my favourite things to do, but once it’s been a few weeks I do start to feel that maybe I’m missing out on something that’s going on. It’s then that I know it’s time to start perusing the events calendars and making some bookings, which is exactly what I did.

I thought I’d share a few choice finds with you, which will in turn give you an idea of the event reviews coming up over the next few months.

First up, I’ve booked myself a ticket to a fantastic event being presented by the Wheeler Centre and the St James Ethic Centre. Freedom of Speech is Over Rated is a debate which promises to be enlightening, entertaining and perplexing. The line-up is impressive; Marcia Langton, Michael Gawenda and Catherine Deveny arguing for the proposition and Julian Burnside, Gretel Killeen and Arnold Zable speaking for the opposing side. I think it’s fair to say that the night might get a little heated, and it’s most definitely bound to get a little cheeky.

It’s being held at the Melbourne Town Hall, and you can book tickets here if you’re keen.

Next is a free exhibition currently being held at the State Library of Victoria. Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond, showing until 1 July 2012, is a celebration of Persian manuscripts and affords us the opportunity to see a selection of beautiful and rare original manuscripts.

Somewhat selfishly, I might sell this one as a day-trip and take the kids into the city for the day. After all, Oscar has been nagging me to go back to the ‘Big Library’ ever since the Children’s Book Festival. It’ll be good for them… If you want to find out more about the event, you can visit the exhibition’s beautiful website here.

Lastly, this event is a little bit further away, but Evan and I are both very excited about it already. We’ve got tickets to hear Christopher Paolini speak. Christopher is of course, the author of the incredibly successful Eragon series and his story is an inspirational one. I can’t wait to hear more about just how he managed to put Eragon together at the tender age of fifteen and I think Evan is just excited about seeing the author of a book he’s reading as we speak – brilliant timing! The event is being presented by the Melbourne Writers Festival crew, and will be held 21 June 2012. You can book tickets here.

Plenty to do, learn and write about! Love it!

Have you got any planned bookish outings on the calendar?

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Imagination at play

Yesterday, I was thrilled to be able to share my love of a good event with my kids.

On a perfect day (not too hot, not too cold) Evan and Oscar and I hopped on a train and meandered into the city for the Children’s Book Festival 2012, held by The Wheeler Centre and the State Library of Victoria (a.k.a ‘The Big Library’).

Greeted by the sounds of the Goss Community Choir, we started our day off by having a little stroll around the lawns to see what was on offer. The vibe was fantastic, lots of people, kids of all ages and everyone keen to hear, see and experience some wonderful kid’s reading.

Oscar stopped off and listened to a couple of stories at the 1001 Nights Tent. It never wears off really does it? The little flutter of joy when watching your kids really enjoy a story – he was enthralled…

After a couple of stories, it was time to go and meet some baby animals. I’d had a tip-off that there was a very cute piglet at the petting zoo and so we happily lined up for a few minutes to check him out…

After the farm, it was time for a wander up Little Lonsdale Street, and who should find but Spot the Dog! Oscar was over the moon, he heard a story, got a hug, and even managed a high five from his favourite spotty dog.

I’m not quite sure what it is about Fire Trucks, but they are always a hit! Both the boys had a great time checking out the truck, with its gauges and hoses and buttons and levers. Oscar was impressed, as he had a chance to sit in the cabin of the big red fire engine, he looked quite at home really.

Then it was on to something a bit more bookish. We went for a bit of a look at The Big Library. The Experimedia room was incredible fun…toys, books, tents and music. We were very fortunate to hear from the lovely Hazel Edwards, who was celebrating Hippopotamus’s 30th birthday! It was quite special to share this with the boys…they didn’t realise as they sat transfixed, that I used to do the same thing when these books were read to me at school. Quite special. It was also very interesting to hear a bit about the behind the scenes of some of Hazel’s favourite picture books.

We’d almost run out of puff, but we couldn’t miss out on just one more experience – the chance to hear from Andy Griffiths. Just around the corner at the Wheeler Centre, we joined a room full of other eager fans to giggle, gasp and gaffaw at the very irreveralant, always funny Andy. Evan and I shared many a laugh, and enjoyed having a chat about the talk and Andy’s books on the way home.

The festival kicked on until 4pm, but we three had had our fill, and it was time to head home. The kids chatted all the way home, and had a ball telling Dad all about the Big Library and the fire trucks, the ducks, the rabbits and the fabulous stories.

These days are what memories are made of…

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In grand style

A full house. It was clear as soon as I walked into the Melbourne Town Hall, that I was not alone in wanting to see in a new year of literary endeavours in grand style.

As I found my seat amongst at least two thousand fellow bibliophiles, I marvelled at just how many people had been so quick and keen to hear a little from the minds of eleven creative individuals.

Becoming something of a tradition, this year’s Wheeler Centre Gala came with a little twist in it tail. Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In gave a voice to eleven different stories of belief from an impressive literary ensemble.

I was thrilled that the evening began with the delightful Gillian Mears. She brought with her a calmness and a simplicity and began proceedings by sharing a little of her latest novel Foal’s Bread.

It seemed fitting that a little piece of what Gillian believed in had already been captured, recorded in her poetic novel. I’ll admit, I had goosebumps as she read her prologue, a little overwhelmed by Mears’ sentiment and delivery.

Next up was Bob Franklin, changing the tone. of course, if you thought he’d be predictable and deliver us humour (his usual fare), you’d be wrong. Instead, he shared a gothic tale of angelic romance, mysterious and etherial: “I won’t ever open my eyes again, if that’s what it takes.” This short love story was haunting and enchanting, with just the slightest hint of punchline.

Randa Abdet-Fattah was next on stage, and she came out swinging. Her beliefs were bold, a story of defiance, atrocity and conflict. Her recount was strong, frightening and violent as she told of the devastation of a terrorised but resolute woman in the streets of urban Egypt. Her honesty made many in the audience uneasy, and it become clear just what it was to share belief in it’s purest, often most harrowing, form.

Next came Alice Pung, whimsical, suburban and humourous. Alice’s stories of childhood, parenthood and Mars Bars brought us back to the Australian school yard – a lovely revisit.

Kaz Cooke was, for me, a highlight of the evening’s line-up. Irreverent yet insightful, Kaz always manages to be witty as well as thoughtful. Her story somehow managed to fuse religion, mythology and Captain Cook, old age, botox and scrotums, all into one neat little, tongue in cheek package.

The evening was moving along at a cracking pace, each story short and revealing.

Next up was Elliot Perlman, who picked up on a fairly common theme of the evening, that of race. Perlman used his skills as a proficient storyteller to highlight the everyday discrimination that lives, quite at home  in our suburban streets – a sad story, with a hopeful resolution, as new generations look at each other with less apprehension and more acceptance.

Carrie Tiffany‘s story was beautifully personal, her recollection of migration from England to Perth, of adjusting to living in houses ‘built on sand’ and sleeping through nights that didn’t cool down. As over time, everything that was once so new because commonplace, she developed a habit, a steadfast belief – in books. Her passion for reading, for stories and books was devine: “I don’t care what reading does for the mind, I just care that it softens the heart.” It’ll be no surprise, that this is a belief that I share whole-heartedly.

Now of course, not everything we believe in turns out to be solid, as Andy Griffiths reminded us with his Nine Dumb Things I Used to Believe: ‘LMNOP’ is not in fact a letter in its own right and toothpaste isn’t just a conspiracy invented by companies to sell more toothpaste. I’m sure that most of use were listing at least a couple of ‘dumb things’ of our own by the end of his list.

Lally Katz told a twisty writer’s tale of Cookie the Psychic and her uncanny ability to see, and remove personal curses. Cookie, brash and bold, with her New York brogue surprised us all by turning out to be rather quite shy when it came to crunch.

Although it could be said that all the Gala guests touched us emotionally, it was physical touch that was at the centre of Tony Birch’s premise. The importance of touch, between child and parent, friend and friend, man and woman – be it two feet touching, a friendly embrace or a single kiss, Tony’s message to the audience this evening was that it is physical touch that brings us peace and connection, in a way that nothing else can.

Finally, the night was drawn to a close, musically by Casey Bennetto. Expecting something profound, imagine my surprise when I was meet with more the larrikin than the lyrical. Casey kindly reminded us that for all our country’s beauty, and all our earnest endeavours – it’s the big things that speak loudest of all…he rounded up the evening on a delightfully humorous note.

And so, for another year, the Gala concluded and we all were left a little wiser, a little more reflective, and thoroughly entertained. I was rapt by the evening, by the venue and the guests. It bodes incredibly well for an amazing series of events from the Wheeler Centre this year…keep an eye on their program, I know I will.

Check out the stories for yourself, videos are now available at the Wheeler Centre’s website.


As an aside, don’t forget that our February discussions kick off next week at the TBYL Book Club. We’ll be discussing Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, with a new question being posted each day, starting on Monday, 27.2.12.

Join the Club || Read the Review || Buy the Book


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