Enjoying a laugh with writerly friends Marie Alfaci, Claire Saxby, Sheryl Gwyther, Elaine Ouston, Julie Nickerson and Kath Battersby

Very few children’s authors become wealthy from their writing, but it is an industry rich with wonderful people and great friendships. I was reminded of this on the weekend when I attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane.

Queensland author, Sheryl Gwyther and her husband, Ross welcomed writers from all over Australia into their home. (Thanks Sheryl and Ross – Chateau Gwyther is always a great place to stay:-)

I spent an amazing weekend, laughing, brainstorming and sharing with other authors; knowing that I am not alone – that others share my love of children’s literature – that others share the ‘ups and downs’ of working in an industry where rejections are plentiful and acceptances are few and far between and must be celebrated with relish.

On Friday night, we attended a function, Four on the Floor at Black Cat Books Paddington featuring Julie Nickerson, Aleesah Darlison, Peter Carnavas and Oliver Phommavanh.

Oliver’s hilarious talk about his new book, Thai-riffic inspired us to dine afterwards at a nearby Thai restaurant.

Illustrator, Jo Thomspon set up a gorgeous display for The Glasshouse launch.

Saturday was full on at CYA Conference where I launched Sheryl Gwyther’s hot new book Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper and Jo Thompson and Paul Collins stunning new PB, The Glasshouse.

I also attended and was inspired by sessions and workshops with Kate Forsyth, Gabrielle Wang, Prue Mason and Chris Morphew.Β I love hearing how other authors work and came away from each session feeling as if I had learned something valuable or heard something that would help me decide future direction/revisions to my current WIP.

The hardest part was coming away feeling so inspired and not having the time to write until I got home again.


Sunday at CYA was Hatchlings day. From about 9.00am enthusiastic young writers aged 8-16 started trickling through the door, eyes alight with excitement and perhaps a few nerves.

I was very excited at the prospect of being able to do my Heroes and Villains workshop with a whole new group of young writers. And it was wonderful.

We talked about stereotyped heroes and villains and what makes a well rounded character. The kids had two photos as a starting point and worked on developing a character based on each picture; one hero and one villain or two villains if they preferred.

As well as interviewing each character to find out more about them, they looked at the relationship between the two and how they knew each other.

It was so much fun. It was also interesting to see how quietly and intensely they worked at making each character unique and interesting.

Unfortunately time was limited so they didn’t get a chance to put their characters into conflict, but right at the start of the workshop they got to act out their own Hero vs Villain scenario.

All in all it was another inspirational CYA conference. Thanks to Tina, Ally and crew for all your hard work in bringing together Australian children’s writers and illustrators and other industry professionals in such a fun and inspiring way.

And it was so great that young writers could share the experience this year.

Happy writing:-)



  1. Would you just LOOK at the fun those kids are having in those masks&capes&things!!!

    Great pics Dee, and a pleasure to share a board and early morning hours in chatter at the Chateau Gwyther. (Pity that the ‘early morning hours’ related both to *going* to sleep AND waking up with very little time in between. :\)

    Let me know when you want us to do our next ‘gig’ together… πŸ™‚

  2. Thank Kat,

    It is always a pleasure sharing lodgings with you…and we never seem to have trouble finding things to chat about LOL. More sleep might have been a bonus, but sometimes I think sleep is overrated – especially when it interferes with ‘Katchup’ time. The kids were great and really got into their roles, didn’t they?:-)

    We definitely need to do another ‘gig’ together, but perhaps we should compare notes and equipment before we get together LOL. (Note to self: water bottles do not belong in bags with bookmarks).

    Pity you won’t be at SCBWI. Maybe I’ll see you in Gladstone:-)


  3. What a great weekend. Thank you so much for launching The Glasshouse at the CYA conference and congratulations on your win. Fingers crossed I’ll get to read it one day.

    Love all the photos from Hatchlings. Everyone had so much fun. Your heroes and villains was a big hit.

    It was fabulous to meet you and chat in person. I met so many enthusiastic new PB people & authors and illustrators I have admired for ages. CYA really is an amazing opportunity not to be missed.

    Hope we can catch up again soon.


  4. Oh! That’s right – I’d forgotten about Gladstone. (When/where did we have that conversation? And why do I get the feeling that we only HALF had that conversation?)

    Depending on how long you have, mayhaps your family would like to come camping… if it’s not raining/flooding… πŸ™‚ We will obviously have to FINISH that conversation!

  5. Hi Jo,

    It was an honour to launch The Glasshouse. You know how much I love it. Hope you get to read Cutting The Ice one day. Hatchlings was fun for me too:-) It’s always great to see such enthusiastic young writers. I know, CYA is an amazing conference isn’t it? Hope to catch up with you again soon too:-)


  6. Kat, I can see we definitely didn’t finish that conversation about Gladstone LOL.

    There might be work up there for hubby. If he goes, we’d stay here but we’d go up and visit him…and that’s when we could catch up with you.

    No guarantees… that’s just one of the places he’s looking at. I’ll keep you posted:-)


  7. Oh – but you tell him Gladstone is such a nice city – with especially nice surrounds… and PEOPLE!! πŸ™‚ He wants to come – and you all want to come visit him. πŸ™‚

    Yes – post me. πŸ™‚ And don’t forget to tell him…

    Kat xx

  8. Thanks, Oliver,

    Great to meet you too. I told my 11 yo about you…he wants to be a stand up comedian and he just loved your book, Thai-riffic. He was home from school sick in bed and just kept reading and reading till he’d finished it…so thanks for keeping him entertained:-) I’m really looking forward to reading it too. If you’re going to SCBWI Sydney, I’ll see your there.

    All the best with your next book too…I know one 11yo who is keen to read it:-)


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