Book Week Day 1: Werewolves and mermaids and dragons, oh my!
Book Week 2016 was EPIC – so much so that I’m breaking it up into multiple posts. This first one will deal with the awesomeness of our first guest, and the sensational sessions they ran with the Evans rockstar students. I’ll post a others with some reflection on out other activities, and how I feel about book week in general, so keep an eye out for that – coming as soon as I recover from the conference I’m currently on, and the uni study visit I’m probably going to be on by the time I get around to posting any/all of these posts. Week 6 and 7? Completely nuts in Library Land!
So, Day 1 of book week 2016 saw me getting to meet one of my favourite instagram author stalking victims … ahem, subjects. I stumbled across Maria Lewis via a link on someone else’s profile. Her hair initially caught my eye, but then I saw her posts about the upcoming publication of her first novel, Who’s Afraid? and I loved the way she talked about her work. I loved it more once I read it (which, I have to say, took me a while – both my copy and our library ones were always in someone else’s hands!!) And, I loved her work on The Feed on SBS (check out this video on Armoured boobs and ingrained sexism in fantasy – epic!) I contacted Maria via Facebook, and she was super-excited to come along and share in our book week celebrations with us. She’d just gotten home from a book tour of the UK a couple of days before coming to visit us – now, that’s commitment!
Maria spent an hour with a group of fantastic students – some of whom want to write, and some who’ve just adopted my habit of author stalking (I’m so proud). What impressed me was her emphasis on research – she spoke about how she used google maps and various other web tools to create a realistic background to her paranormal fiction, and outlined the process she used to created her were-world. They then worked on looking at researching their own paranormal/fantasy character and story, and it was a fantastic session of brainstorming and sharing.
Following this, she spoke to a couple of high school classes, as well as 2 classes from our Intensive English Centre. The inspiration continued, and I was particularly impressed when she talked about why she wrote her novel – she was sick of seeing thin, 14 year old red head girls saving the world, and wanted to see someone more like her on the pages of a book. I love that so much – the idea that representation matters. The acknowledgement of the importance of difference in our stories.
Lunch time saw Maria sharing tattoos (of the temporary kind of course!), signing multiple autographs, and basically developing her own army of fangirls and guys. There were some starry-eyed school kids in her wake as she left that afternoon.
I’m so grateful for the time she gave us, and I know that the students at Evans are looking forward to having her back as much as I am. I’d totally recommend reading Who’s Afraid?, and if you have the opportunity to get Maria to come and hang out at your school, you absolutely should. She’s awesome, and a much-loved addition to the Evans’ Author Rockstar Crew.