Festival Fun: Voices On The Coast

Last year it was the StoryArts Ipswich Festival which rocked my humble author boat. This year I was fortunate enough to kick off 2020 with one of my favourite literature festivals, the Voices on the Coast 25th Anniversary , presented by the Immanuel Lutheran College, Sunshine Coast.

For the last quarter of a decade, this festival designed specifically to attract children, young adults, emerging writers and eager readers to listen and workshop with Australia’s leading authors, illustrators and performers has been taking prime position on SE Queensland's literary event calendar. And it's not hard to see why; a plethora of quality presenters, a packed program of author and illustrator sessions and talks and a gamut of entertaining community events ensure the Sunshine Coast really does sparkle for four wonderful days.

A cluster of crazy creators: L-R Martin Chatterton, Pip Harry, Jacqueline Harvey, George Ivanoff, Mark Smith, Wai Chim, Suzy Zail, Malla Nunn, Lili Wilkinson, Lucas Proudfoot, Brian Falkner, Tim Harris, moi, and Steven Herrick

The festival aims to inspire young people to enjoy the world of reading, writing, drawing and performing through their experiences each year. And this year, this little black duck, along with her pigeon and unicorn companions, was invited to present alongside the likes of George Ivanoff, Tim Cope, Suzy Zail, Jacqui Harvey, Lucas Proudfoot, Wai Chim, Brian Falkner, Tim Harris and Morris Gleitzmann. Yes, Mr Gleitzmann! Well, I sat next to him at the signing tables for a spell at least, offering to value-add to his numerous photo requests but mostly just trying to keep out of the way.

The supremely talented and entertaining YA queens, Wai Chim and Lili Wilkinson in conversation 

Lucas Proudfoot slaying the crowds at the Voices 25 event with his deadly didgeridoo demos. There was cake afterwards to boot!

I enjoyed a spectacular couple of days at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) giving workshops to students aged between 9 - 12 years on writing and life and talks about the life of a writer. It was fun and exhilarating as these events often are with nary time to pee (the constant pitfall of a busy author!) or indulge in the platters of glorious handmade snacks but worth every minute of breathless careening from one room venue to the next. In fact by the end of my two day stint, my beautiful Immanuel Lutheran College student helpers had the collect-the-books-carry-the-banner-tuck-and-roll routine down to a fine art. Thank you Grace, Hilary, Danni and Sarah!

QBD made this special event feel very special indeed. 

Spent the nights with this gal, Pip Harry - in separate rooms of course! Best roomie ever

It's a hard view but somebody's got to see it. Ocean glimpse from our billets in Alexandra Headlands for the week

Kudos in spades must be doled out to Kelly Dunham and her merry (always exceedingly merry) band of volunteers and assistants too. Happy to report a festival schedule with zero tech glitches, plenty of downtime, excellent accommodation, sublime location (I mean really, the Sunshine Coast!) and a contingent of presenters that made the whole occasion feel more like a family reunion than... work! My one slight regret; losing my voice and therefore declining to join in what was from all accounts a rousing  author vs. author bowling tournament. Next times my pretties, next time...

Yes, I'm one lucky ducky. This is my full time occupation and I couldn't be happier or prouder to share it with our young regional Queensland future storytellers.

Festival goodie stash. Thank you for having me VOC!

If you live in regional SE QLD or along the Sunshine Coast, keep an eye out for next year's dates for the Voices on The Coast festival so you can involve students you know or teach or simply come along yourself!

Photo credits: George Ivanoff, Pip Harry and me 😄


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