Brisbane Writers Festival 2014

I was pretty excited when BWF finally rolled around this year since I’d never been to anything like it before. I was so eager that I booked my tickets weeks—possibly months—in advance (hey, I didn’t want to miss out!) and planned a whole weekend trip around it. And, boy, I’m glad I did, because I had a fabulous time!


My first session was on Friday afternoon and it was called “This World And The Next”. The info blurb said:

Laini Taylor, Isobelle Carmody and Kirilee Barker talk with Trent Jamieson about diving into fantastical other worlds, and bringing some of the magical to this Muggle one.

Now, really, how could I not have gone to that one? I adore Laini Taylor’s ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ (if you haven’t read it, I totally recommend – the imagery is insane. You actually feel like you’re in Prague with the protagonist, Karou!). And Isobelle Carmody is arguably one of Australia’s most influential fantasy writers. The first book in her ‘Obernewtyn Chronicles’ was part of the curriculum when I was in primary school and I’m pretty sure it was the first full-length fantasy novel I ever read. I loved it—so much that it started me on the path towards reading more fantasy (which in turn led me to where I am today, writing fantasy!).

Anyway, I’ve totally gone off track. But I just wanted to express that I was excited to see/hear from Laini and Isobelle, especially considering the conversation topic. And I wasn’t disappointed. Here are some direct quotes that I managed to jot down (because I loved them!):

“The door into any world is through the character… A world is only a world until you put a character in it—and then the world comes alive…” – Isobelle Carmody.

“I was finding things out along with the characters… [They] come alive and guide me… [I] unfold the world through the eyes of the characters…” – Laini Taylor (in regards to whether she plots her stories or figures things out as she goes).

“Being a writer is like being king of the world. [You can just say to your characters], “You’re annoying me, so I’m killing you.” [You have] an incredibly manic power to do anything you want.” – Isobelle Carmody.

I actually wrote down a heap of notes, but those were the ones that spoke to me the most. Oh, and I also loved when Isobelle said, “You have to go where your characters take you.” I couldn’t agree with this more, mostly because it’s exactly how I write. I’m not a very good plotter—my characters drive the story and I’m mostly just along for the ride. It was nice to hear that such incredible authors write in a similar manner!

I’ll move on since I went to a number of other classes and I don’t want this post to become a massive essay… But before I do, I just want to mention that I ended up being in an elevator with both Laini Taylor and Isobelle Carmody that afternoon and it was awesome! I may have gone a little fan-girl-esque on them and cried out, “Selfie!” just as I whipped out my phone. Fortunately for me, they didn’t freak out about my oh-so-professional-and-ever-so-stoic inherent coolness, and instead they were kind enough to take a photo with me. Here’s Laini (and yes, her hair is bright pink):


And here’s Isobelle:


Moving on now, as promised.

I spent Saturday at Comic-Con (meeting super-awesome people like Orlando Bloom and Jason Momoa—see my previous post for pics!), and then Sunday I was at BWF again.

My first class Sunday morning was called “Where’s My Jetpack?” and it was a discussion on the divide between science and science fiction. I felt like my brain increased in size just by listening to the panel guests. It was so cool. They talked about everything from flying cars to matter transference, from faster-than-light space travel to artificial intelligence. Cyborgs, androids, nanotechnology—even why we don’t have a cure for the common cold. It was extremely fascinating (in an, oh-my-goodness-my-brain-hurts kind of way). One quote I particularly liked was, “Progress doesn’t always equal improvement… Adaptation isn’t necessarily things getting better, just things becoming different.” That’s certainly something to think about, huh?

Next up I went to “All You Need Is Love” and I actually really enjoyed this session. It was with Kylie Scott (NYT bestselling author of the ‘Stage Dive‘ series), Charlotte Nash, and Kimberly Freeman, and hosted by publisher Kate Cuthbert. Since the romance novel industry is booming at the moment (and in general), it was a lively discussion and they talked about a great many things. Some of my favourite direct quotes were:

“Writing from your heart is what you’re supposed to do.” – Kimberly Freeman.

“The main benefit of being a book reader is to live as many lives as you can.” – Kylie Scott.

“If it doesn’t have a happily-ever-after, then you’re a very naughty romance writer and you need to go back and write it again!” – Kylie Scott.

… And my personal favourite (mostly because I can totally relate, haha):

“I sit at home in my pyjamas until four o’clock in the afternoon; there’s not a lot of glamour in being an author.” – Kylie Scott.

I also got to ask a question about authors writing love triangles into novels, and they discussed this for some time, which was pretty cool.

Next up I went to a session called “Laws Of Magic”. It had Laini Taylor and Kiralee Barker again, but it also had Rjurik Davidson and Trudi Canavan (another incredible fantasy author—best known for ‘The Black Magician‘ trilogy). It was a cool session where they discussed, well, magic! And also the building of mythologies and magic systems and how they went about doing that kind of thing in their novels. I found it particularly interesting to listen when they each talked on the topic of magic generally always having a cost—whether it be physical, mental, social, emotional, or in some other way. It was definite food for thought!

After that session I managed to quickly get my copy of ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone‘ signed by Laini Taylor…


… before running off for my last session of the day. It was called “Crossover: New Adult Fiction” and I had been quite looking forward to it. I’m predominantly a YA author but I like the idea of dabbling in the NA genre at some stage in the future. It was a cool session to be at because it was only Kylie Scott (previously mentioned author) and Kate Cuthbert (previously mentioned publisher) and they were just really good, fun communicators.

“NA is just YA with consequences,” said Kate at one stage, brilliantly summing up exactly what the New Adult genre is.

I didn’t learn anything revolutionary during this session, but I still had a good time and I was glad I’d gone along to listen in. The same actually goes for all the classes I went to. I didn’t exactly learn anything during BWF, but it was really nice just being in an environment around writers, readers, and people who love books and the publishing industry as a whole. I came away from the weekend feeling… I guess, encouraged. Writing is what I love to do, it’s what I’m passionate about, so it was a beautiful experience for me to be around so many likeminded people, gleaning off their wisdom and knowledge.

I’m not entirely sure what to say to end this post, since I’ve pretty much worded myself out. (That makes sense if you think about it! Though, ‘worded’ is definitely a strange word… Then again, it’s not the strangest word I’ve ever used in this blog!). I suppose all that’s left is for me to say that I really did have a fabulous time—at BWF and Comic-Con—and even though I’m jumping the gun a bit, I already can’t wait to do it all again next year!

17 thoughts on “Brisbane Writers Festival 2014

  1. I am so jealous of your selfies! I was at that session with Laini and Isobelle as well and LOVED it. I had no idea Isobelle Carmody would be so damn hilarious and wonderful. Glad you liked the festival!

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