From humble beginnings eleven years ago A Night With Our Stars has become the event of the year for authors and illustrators in Western Australia to showcase their work. Back in 2003 Jenni Woodroffe had an idea. And when Jenni has an idea things usually happen. With this one, however, I think even Jenni is just a little surprised at how big her idea has actually grown.
At first authors and illustrators who had had a book published recently were invited to speak, for three minutes, about their work. This could include previous books as well as what they were working on next. And sometimes new authors or illustrators whose book wasn’t quite out there yet were invited to speak, to fill the program. Now there are so many people vying for the speaking spots that very strict rules have to be applied. Only those with books published in the previous calendar year are invited to fill the precisely three-minute slots. Sequels and non-fiction titles are mentioned by the MC, but there are so many WA authors and illustrators producing books these days that it has become a great honour to be invited by the organisers to be part of the main program. Attendances, by book buyers of all descriptions, have swelled to near two hundred, stretching to the limit the capacity of the new Westbooks car park. A huge marquee, erected in the car park and donated by Fremantle Press each year, has replaced the space between-the-shelves of the old Westbooks premises.
From the start the WA Branch of the Childrens Book Council of Australia has pitched in to help Jenni with the multiple tasks of organising food, wine, book signings, sound system, posters and invitations for the event. It is a huge undertaking. Last year the indefatigable Jenni Woodroffe handed over the reins to Joanna Andrew. It is often tricky to keep something like this going when the founder retires after such a long stint in the saddle. On Thursday night it was great to see A Night With Our Stars carrying on seamlessly. Not only has it survived for 11 years but it is obviously flourishing and will continue to do so in Joanna’s capable hands.
Well done everyone at CBC WA.