22 May 2014

CBCA 2014 Canberra

The CBCA celebrated itself last weekend with its conference in Canberra.  Well done to all the organisers - it is a truly gargantuan, herculean job to pull all those people and events together.  Especially wonderful was the dinner in the War Memorial which stunned us all.  The War Memorial in Canberra is a very extraordinary place in the day time but at night as I entered in front of the darkened pool of remembrance with the eternal flame flickering at the far end and then walked past those silent cases of medals and uniforms and photographs it made a chill run up my spine.  War is not splendid, it is not glorious; it is sombre and sad and it relies on the deaths of men and women and children.  I believe it can never be celebrated but it must be remembered.
We watched a light and sound show from above the Lancaster Bomber, G for George, which had flown in WW11.  An enormous machine it dominated the very large space and around it the caterers had set the tables.  We sat, dwarfed, under a wing and enjoyed a very fine dinner.   In fact I would go so far as to say this was the best CBCA dinner I have attended.

What would publishing in this country do without the CBCA awards?  When I was first publisher at Omnibus a shortlisting could add as much as 20000 to a book's print run, sometimes even more.  Now we are lucky to get an extra two or three thousand copies but in this age of diminishing book sales these extra copies are so very important.  So I thank them all, those judges whose opinions I might argue with are doing a wonderful, important job and it is through their consistent and devoted efforts that Australian children's publishing is stable.

Here I am at the national Library with Mark Mcleod.  Mark is the tall chap in the front.  I am the dwarf behind him.  Photography is clearly not the talent of Ann James who took this image.  Thankfully she is awash with other talents.  Books Illustrated put on an exhibition of Bob Graham's work - wow.  I was speechless and not because I had drunk two glasses of champagne.  Or three.  The man is a talent so big he ought to have a special award all for himself.
Curated so very well by Ann James and Anne Haddon - well done ladies.

Omnibus slipped a book into each of the conference bags and already we have had some wonderful feedback - this from an attendee:

Just finished reading Catherine Norton's book, CROSSING. Published with Omnibus Books, it's a fabulous read - a true 'couldn't put it down' sort of book, with many insightful explorations of the human condition; about how brainwashing takes away empathy; and the institutional terror of a repressive regime told matter-of-factly through the voice of an (almost) accepting child. Thoroughly recommended for ages 10-100 (or thereabouts). Even though specific places or time-frame are not told, anyone old enough to be aware of the tragedy of the Berlin Wall and the heroics of many who fought against it will thrill at this story told through the observant Cara's eyes. It will also work for a generation of younger readers (and thinkers). '12 year-old Cara has grown up in the shadow of the Wall, in a closed world of food shortages and high security. Her parents are dedicated to their secret work for the government, and it’s only a matter of time before her gifted younger sister follows in their footsteps. It’s all Cara has ever known, until the summer she meets Ava and Leon. Ava doesn’t care about rules. Nothing will ever be the same." 
 Happy days

I was really pleased to chair a session with our own marvelous Michael Bauer. 
Michael is possibly the most versatile author we have in our list - his talent extends to  just about every genre - he hasn't yet written detective fiction but hey!  Who knows?  Michael shared the stage with his good mate and almost-as-talented friend Barry Jonsberg.   Those two were seriously funny.
Micheal's newest series is the spin off from Eric Vale - Derek Danger Dale.   This cartoon within the Eric series was so funny we wanted the character to have a life of his own - Michael has invented the wackiest story lines I've ever seen.  

And lastly it was really really lovely to catch up with all my mates from publishing; Erica, Laura , Maryanne, , Zoe, Stephanie, Rochelle, Margrete...all women who work tirelessly to support, defend and grow Australian children's publishing.
here's to our wonderful industry and all the extraordinary people in it!