‘Dieses madchen, das ich liebe, kann die sonne lenken und ihren vater achten und mit einem lipenstift ih seele malen.’
– Zwischen zwei Fenstern, Dianne Touchell
I’m not sentimental about the ending of a year and the beginning of a new one. I’m not a great celebrator of individual days. I’ve had enough shit happen to me to make me more interested in celebrating every day in some way, rather than getting caught up in the overvalued anticipation of one day which is immediately followed by a sense of anti-climax and guilt, in my case, about the awful excess and accompanying waste that has become a part of Christmas. We even actively seek debt to create this illusion of affluence. And meanwhile Telstra offers free public phone box calls because some of us don’t even have the fifty cents necessary to phone mum. Ho ho ho.
Every year is a good year in some way, but this year being invited to present at the International Literature Festival in Berlin in September was my highlight. It began with being greeted at the airport by my English-speaking PA, Lisa Breitsameter, who looked after me so well during my stay I wanted to bring her home with me. Seriously. I told her that, too. They had to peel me off of her at the airport departure gate.
The Festival for me was four days of tearing about from event to event, speaking and reading to packed theatres of extraordinary young adults and children. Some events in English, some in German (with amazing interpreter Gabrijela Leovic), and actor Matthias Scherwernikas providing the readings in German. I was also a guest at De Gelbe Villa, an inspiring educational initiative to expand children’s experience of the arts, and GRIPS Theatre in Hansaplatz, to be presented with dance, visual art and theatre workshops created around the themes and characters in my books. I got a bit teary at those.
And signings, signings, signings where I met wonderful young people and their wonderful teachers.
So, thank you to Festival Director, Ulrich Schreiber, and Head of Children’s and Young Adult Program, Christoph Rieger, for the great time! I’m free most Septembers…
I was also able to squeeze in dinner with my German publisher, Ulrike Dick from Carlsen and my first tattoo (not on the same night). I had to turn down an invitation to lunch at the Australian Embassy because it clashed with festival obligations, but thanks anyway to Lauren Bain, Deputy Ambassador.
Other stuff of note from this year: I finished one manuscript and started another, started a new job, quit smoking, and racked up $300 in speeding fines.
Now I’m ready for all the days in 2019.