Elaine Forrestal

Balingup Festival Continues

Elaine For­re­stal pre­sent­ing a writ­ing work­shop dur­ing the Balin­gup Telling Tales Festival

Hav­ing missed last year’s Balin­gup Telling Tales Fes­ti­val because I was over­seas, I was look­ing for­ward, even more than usual, to going back there this year. I felt like a fam­ily mem­ber return­ing home after a long absence and won­dered if any­thing would have changed. Of course there were some thing that had changed, but not the peo­ple of Balin­gup. They are remark­able, espe­cially in this age of the indi­vid­ual, in that the whole town gets behind the Fes­ti­val and helps out in what­ever way they can. The streets are dec­o­rated with life sized story book peo­ple. A parade of real live locals, young and old, all dressed as well-known char­ac­ters from fairy tales and children’s books, come out to play — some of them for a whole day of the two-day event. And all the local busi­nesses con­tribute in some way. The cafes and restau­rants pro­vide free food and drink for all the pre­sen­ters. Other busi­nesses offer space in their premises to acco­mo­date the many writ­ing and illus­trat­ing ses­sions on offer. An army of helpers move fur­ni­ture, deliver chairs, heaters, art equip­ment, cof­fee and any­thing else’s that may be needed.

There were two notice­able changes this year. One is that we all gath­ered in the town on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day evenings for our meals. Two local restau­rants opened their doors espe­cially for us and we had two dif­fer­ent, but equally lovely meals. In the past the hard-working com­mit­tee mem­bers have cooked for us and deliv­ered our evening meals to  one of the two cot­tages where the out-of-town pre­sen­ters stay. I can not begin to imag­ine, with every­thing else they have going on, how these four remark­able women man­age to run a huge fes­ti­val and deliver a home cooked meal to four­teen hun­gry peo­ple two nights in a row! But they have, for six of the seven years the Fes­ti­val has been run­ning. What a com­mit­ment! I for one am all in favour of any­thing that light­ens their load.

The other change is that, while a huge crowd attended the fes­ti­val on the first day (Sat­ur­day) there were very few peo­ple on the street or in the work­shops on the sec­ond day. Mind you, the tem­per­a­ture was 0% on Sun­day morn­ing and didn’t get much warmer until the sun came out just after lunch. By then the Fes­ti­val was almost over to allow peo­ple from else­where to make it safely  home by a rea­son­able hour. In this case ‘else­where’ ranged from Kal­go­or­lie, over a thou­sand kms away, to Nan­nup, just half an hour down the road.

Per­haps next year there will be other changes. What­ever hap­pens I will do what I can to ensure that this amaz­ing event con­tin­ues. Thank you Balingup.


Some exciting new books

Avid read­ers for life

The Great Big Kids Read event at the State Library last week­end turned out to be a huge success.

Fre­man­tle Press show­cased some of their lat­est pub­li­ca­tions in the children’s book area by hav­ing the authors and illus­tra­tors read from their work. Or, in one case, hav­ing a child read to a full house in the The­atre at the Library. Selected images, and some­times whole pic­ture books, were dis­played on the screen while the read­ings were going on. While read­ing from her new book, The Light­house, Cristy Burne involved the audi­ence in pro­vid­ing sound effects to go with her fast paced adven­ture. After­wards the authors and illus­tra­tors were avail­able to sign copies of their books while the audi­ence shared after­noon tea and lots of pos­i­tive chat.

Will this be the new way for­ward for authors and illus­tra­tors in our mutu­ally sup­port­ive rela­tion­ship with the State Library? I hope so.

Eden Glassie Mysteries available in paperback format again!

Eng­lish stu­dents after pre­sent­ing a Reader’s The­atre drama­ti­sa­tion of an Elaine For­re­stal title. the Eden-Glassie Mys­ter­ies dis­played on the table in the foreground

Typ­i­cal of my gen­er­a­tion, I knew noth­ing about com­put­ers until I was in my early for­ties. I still know only what I need to know for my work, but over the last month I have had to learn very quickly!

An oppor­tu­nity to pro­vide class sets of paper­back copies of Deep Water, Stone Cir­cle, Black Earth, and Wild Wind came via a won­der­ful Teacher Librar­ian from NSW. She saw their poten­tial as sup­port mate­ri­als for the new Geog­ra­phy syl­labus topic Wild Weather, with the added advan­tage that, because the stu­dents enjoy read­ing the sto­ries, they could cross over into their Eng­lish and Drama sub­ject areas. A bonus for them, and for me.

All of these titles had been out-of-print with their orig­i­nal pub­lisher, Pen­guin Books Aus­tralia, for some time and the rights had reverted to me. Hav­ing been encour­aged by my pub­lisher at e-Text Press who said ‘Of course you can do this.’, I set out to con­vert the eBook ver­sions of the four nov­els to paper­backs. After much trial and error and the occa­sional S.O.S to more computer-savvy friends I now have Black Earth avail­able, in paper­back, for pur­chase from www.createspace.com. Copies can be ordered direct, online, or by con­tact­ing me at <eforrie@iinet.net.au>.

The other three titles, Deep Water, Stone Cir­cle and Wild Wind will all be avail­able within the next few weeks. Now that I have learned how to do it, they will not take any­where near as long as the first one.

Rottnest Retreat 2017

Hard-working authors at work on their texts in a cot­tage on Rot­tnest Island

The balmy days and calm fresh nights of the Rot­tnest Retreat 2017 are fad­ing into mem­ory and we have picked up our main­land lives again. We are always sad to leave the island, but the inspi­ra­tion and enthu­si­asm gen­er­ated by our annual visit does stay with us in the form of new ideas to be devel­oped and old works to be retrieved from the bot­tom drawer. The stim­u­la­tion of net­work­ing with our col­leagues and the encour­age­ment of the vis­it­ing pub­lish­ers is some­thing rare and precious.

Every year the ses­sions and activ­i­ties, which are part of the annual Retreat, gen­er­ate new inspi­ra­tions. The cho­sen pub­lish­ers come and spend time pass­ing with us, reveal­ing their wish lists and pass­ing on infor­ma­tion about the indus­try we work in. They prompt us to think about what we can write or illus­trate that just might work for them. They are open and hon­est about cur­rent trends and pub­li­ca­tion fig­ures. And they give advice and encour­age­ment that always sends me back to my desk with my head full of ideas about how to rework old sto­ries and develop new ones.

The input of fel­low SCBWI mem­bers is equally impor­tant and life affirm­ing. Given the chance to net­work and socialise we find that we all face sim­i­lar prob­lems and that per­se­ver­ance and hard work is what brings success.

So three cheers for our won­der­ful, hard-working organ­is­ers and for all the will­ing helpers who make  the annual Rot­tnest Retreat hap­pen for us. Hip, hip, hooray!!!

In Praise of Dr Jamal Rifi

Par­tic­i­pat­ing nation’s flags fly­ing together at the entrance to the Inter­na­tional Book Fair in Bologna.

Doc­tor Jamal Rifi has a med­ical prac­tise in the Bel­more sub­urb of west­ern Syd­ney. He is an immi­grant and a well known mod­er­ate in his Islamic Com­mu­nity. We need more voices like his.

Recently a father came to him for help because his son was show­ing early signs of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion. Together the two men went to the Imam of their local Mosque and made him aware of the sit­u­a­tion. Through judi­cious coun­selling and appro­pri­ate action they man­aged to nip the son’s rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion in the bud.

In an arti­cle in The Aus­tralian (Tues­day 6th June, p6) Doc­tor Rifi is quoted as saying,

Many Islamic lead­ers are try­ing to hold together their own com­mu­ni­ties. No mat­ter how vig­i­lant the intel­li­gence agen­cies are, they can’t keep tabs on every­one. But we in the com­mu­nity are happy to keep our eyes and ears on our own com­mu­nity because this coun­try is our home, this is where my five kids have been edu­cated and are working.”

Well done Doc­tor Rifi. If only we could clone you!

And well done The Aus­tralian for report­ing this glim­mer of light in a very dark tunnel.