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I am chairman (woman, person).

Care to dance? I'm not sure what was going on when this shot was taken. It's meant to be me chairing the discussion with Lynette Noni (author of The Medoran Chronicles and new series Whisper), and Jessica Townsend, author of Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow. This all happened last night at Australian Reading Hour. We did settle into a civilized conversation though. As you can see 😊

So chairing was a blast. I mean, how hard can talking about books and writing and reading with TWO incredible authors be? And it was fun to find out that Jessica likes being called Jess, she hated PE at school and didn’t much like school (forced to sit for hours in classes). When asked how she manages to sit for hours a day to write, she said she chose to write. And that being an author is her dream. So that makes it easier. In fact, she was inspired to become a writer by our very own John Marsden who she listened to and met at Voices on the Coast!

Lynette’s story was very different. She even hated English at school! She didn’t know she wanted to be an author until she couldn’t find the book she wanted to read. So she wrote it. As you do! And now she’s hooked and writes 18 hours a day – yes you heard me right. It’s not a typo. 18 hours! Also, did you know that one of Lynette’s favourite characters in her books is the cat. And I have to agree!

It seemed to me that Jessica is more of a plotter, working on her whole series over a period of ten years, while Lynette is a pantser – and no, that doesn’t mean she writes while only wearing a pair of pants! So she writes very quickly without much planning – I can’t remember the stat, but something like 500 pages in less than a month – chasing the story and her characters. That just tells you that there’s no right or wrong way to write. Right?

I’m more of a pantser myself, but I know plenty of authors who’ve taken a year to get down the first draft and meticulously plan their chapters. It’s all good – so long as you’re writing and reading.

That’s the big advice that came out of the evening. If you want to be a writer then read A LOT and also keep writing. Someone in the audience asked a very intelligent question about how her work tends to reflect a lot of what she reads so she’s afraid her stories will be seen as copies of other writer’s work. But the key is that this high schooler is writing. Both Jessica and Lynette agreed that while all writers are influenced by what they read – it’s inevitable - if she keeps writing, her own voice will naturally come out.

So this awesome evening was also a pajama party. Hence my PJs and the Uggs. I have to say, I felt so much more relaxed simply by being in my night stuff. Perhaps it relaxed me. Perhaps it’s because I tend to wear this all day while writing 😊 I’m not sure the staff of Pet Barn knew quite what to say though when I stopped in to buy some very much needed kibble for my dog beforehand. “Pajama party with my dog and a kilo of kibble” I told the cashier as she eyed me wearily.

Thanks so much to Voices on the Coast who organized this AWESOME event. And you can get Jessica’s second book, Wundersmith; The Calling of Morrigan Crow, from 30th October, but you can preorder on Booktopia now. And Lynette just released the next book in The Medoran Chronicles, We Three Heroes, earlier this month.

Happy reading – and writing – to you all!

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