Day 2 of Adelaide Writers Week and another day of glorious sun with a gentle breeze. Some past Writers Weeks have been blighted by scorching hot weather, so these mild days are very welcome!
My first session today was to hear Richard Dawkins, who spoke about his new book, giving a precis of the chapters before answering many questions from a very large and appreciative audience. It really seemed such an inadequate forum for such a huge topic, as the enormous audience would attest!
From there I attended a session called “Writers as Readers” with a panel containing Brian Castro – novelist and Professor of Creative Writing at Adelaide University, Kathryn Fox – Sydney doctor and very successful mystery novelist, Andrea Goldsmith – Australian novelist & Mirielle Juchau – Australian novelist and essayist. They spoke about themselves as readers and how that has subsequently informed their various works. Castro spoke of how his poor eyesight as a very young child led to him lurking about the house – under tables and behind doors – learning to read situations. Fox spoke of the need, as a doctor, for emotional intelligence and entertained with some personal anecdotes about reading people and their, sometimes unspoken, needs and rationales. Her final story about an elderly patient and his penile implant had everyone in stitches! Goldsmith told of her childhood as a very slow developer and how it has led to a fondness and need for solitude to indulge her passion for reading and Mirielle Juchau spoke about how reading helped her to uncover unspoken facts about her family history. Her Grandmother was a survivor of Hitler’s Germany, coming to Australia in 1939. While not exactly a secret, this was simply not spoken about and she worked it out for herself at the age of about 15.
With the exception of Brian Castro, they all spoke of their love for reading and the different ways that they use different reading habits when writing. Startlingly, Castro told how he doesn’t enjoy reading at all, mostly finding it a necessary slog!!
My final writer for today was the very affable – and Prime Minister’s Award winning – Steven Conte who wrote “The Zookeepers War”, set in Berlin during WWII, chronicling a marriage and a city under immense pressure and the possibilities for heroism within that situation. He spoke of his early obsession with Berlin and how his experiences as a boarder at an all-boys boarding school helped him to relate to totalitarianism!!”