Elaine Forrestal

Singapore and Rottnest Island are neighbours

David Lieu and Elaine Forrestal with the sketch that he made of her during her presentation at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015

They are five hours apart by plane and share a time zone and an official language. Perhaps it is not surprising that both Singapore and Rottnest Island have recently hosted significant book publishing events. What is surprising is that the Asian Festival of Children’s Content and the International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Rottnest Retreat took place just three days apart, and that Catherine Carvell and I attended both. Catherine lives in Singapore and is the Regional Advisor to SCBWI. I live in Perth, Western Australia, but was a speaker at the AFCC. How neighbourly is that?

The AFCC was huge. It brought together an amazing mix of people from all over Asia, including China, Japan, India, the Philippines and Malaysia. It was such a great opportunity for me to talk to a wide range of people, all involved in some way with books and young people. I was fascinated to hear about the thriving publishing industries in so many of the Asian regions, and to share a love of books and reading with this lovely diverse group of people.

The SCBWI Rottnest Retreat was tiny by comparison, but there was just as much passion for books and reading and a tremendous amount of support, within the group, for each other’s work. Coincidentally it was not just the presence of both Catherine and myself that linked these two events. One of the speeches I delivered in Singapore was about mysteries and metaphors in Young Adult fiction and had Rottnest Island as it’s setting. Straggler’s Reef, the book I used to demonstrate significant points in the presentation, is about a shipwreck that actually happened in 1839 on Straggler’s Reef between Rottnest and the coast of Western Australia.

Double deja vous!