Tuesday, August 30, 2011

MWF 2011: All in the Family

From the MWF Program: Dynamic duo Carole and Lili Wilkinson describe their books for children and young adults, and what it's like to be part of a whole family of writers.

Chris (chair), Lili and Carole - taken on my phone

I only went to one session today, because unlike last year, I'm now working full-time and am fitting in events where I can. I was really excited for this session because I'm a bit of a Lili fangirl and was bummed to miss out on tickets to her session on A Pocketful of Eyes. Talky

  • Before the session started, they ran a slideshow with photos of Lili and Carole (nawww).
  • The session was chaired by Chris (sorry, I didn't write down his surname) and he began by introducing both of the Wilkinson women.
  • Carole spoke about her first career as a lab technican and coming into writing a bit later in life - Carole wasn't published until she was 40.
  • Lili, on the other hand, was first published in Voiceworks at age 12, worked for the Centre for Youth Literature and had her first novel published at 24 by blackdog books (where she also did work experience in high school).
  • Lili spoke about the similarities between Carole's first book (Stage Fright) and Lili's own high school experiences in the stage crew (which she herself would go on to write about in Pink) and the way in which Carole "borrowed" bits and pieces.
  • Both women spoke about their writing processes, and the way they read each others work and give feedback, as well as using each other for procrastination and sharing writerly successes.
  • I thought it was funny that Lili and Carole skype with each other almost daily, despite living only minutea away from each other (mostly enjoyed this because there are times when I will speak to my siblings via Facebook chat when we are in the same house....)
  • Carole talked about the idea of the "zero draft" which was really interesting to hear about. This is the draft where you just get everything out and it allows you to sort out your structure and plotting, before going back and fine-tuning details or spending time perfecting your language.
  • Both Carole and Lili have studied screenwriting (which Lili said contributed to their writing style and practice, as screenwriting is very plot driven and emphasises the structural).
  • Lili talked briefly about Carole's meticulous research habits (filling lever-arch folders with notes about everything), and her own research in  A Pocketful of Eyes which included a behind-the-scenes tour at the Melbourne Museum.
  • Lili spoke about writing a "rom-crime" and gave us some insight into her upcoming novel, Love Shy (which I had already heard a bit about because I'm nerdy like that and it sounds really great and of course, will spend the next six months bouncing with anticipation for it's release). Lili spoke about not writing sequel books or part of a series, but that all her novels are somewhat similar - "nerdy chick lit" with an element of mystery.
  • Carole and Lili were asked about their writing to publication timelines - Lili takes an average of 18 months (and often works on things in between), and Carole works from a year to 18 months (it takes her around a year for each of the Dragonkeeper books).
It was a fun session - I was it had gone for longer and a bit more in-depth (the format of the session was slightly odd and kind of based around a Skype convo) but of course, it was a pleasure to hear Lili speak at the MWF again and I'm now looking forward to also start reading some of Carole's writing.

I caught up with Megan before the session and we sat together for this panel, so be sure to check out her post as she live-blogged from the festival.

Fellow attendees, what events have you enjoyed the most so far?


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