The unauthorised diary of my day at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

8.30am: No need for parking tickets at the car park of the Sydney Writers’ Festival – I just leave a copy of Pride & Prejudice under my windshield wiper.
9am: “I’ve got Ferrante Fever,” says a friend. Embarrassed, I reply, “Hopefully calamine lotion will work for that.”
10am: Big crowd for enfant terrible author Susan Smithers, author of How I Quit Both Sugar AND The World’s Deadliest Terrorist Group.
10.45am: I spot one of the roving child reporters for kids’ newspaper Crinkling News. “I want you to file that 2000-word piece on corruption in football in one hour!” I scream. The tyke bursts into tears. I am amazed … how does he expect to make it as a newspaper man?
11am: It’s an incredible sight seeing hundreds of grown adults filling in colouring books with crayons. If only they were actually at a mindfulness workshop.
11.30am: I am amazed during a Q&A session when someone grabs the microphone and asks a constructive, insightful question that isn’t somehow all about them.
Noon: John Birmingham settles in with the packed crowd – none of which are under 55 – to discuss the topic “Death Spiral: The Future Of Media And Publishing”.
1pm: People keep talking about Man Booker. How come we never see him? Is he an actual person? Or is he a made-up figure like Remington Steele?
1.15pm: Would I read a book about a “British government negotiator battling to unite a G8 summit on a carbon emissions deal while her neglected boyfriend turned his attention to beating the world record for cave diving”? Just try and stop me!
1.30pm: Have the choice of seeing “the most important Chinese intellectual of his generation” or the dude who writes those Minecraft “how to” guides. Go to the Minecraft session.
1.45pm: Authors are always going on about “uncomfortable truths”. Why can’t we have “comfortable truths” for a change?
2pm: “A gruelling and intense journey that leave little room for catharsis and redemption … and makes one ultimately despair about one’s fellow man” I tweet as – yes, finally – I reach the head of the coffee queue.
2.15pm: “Have we reached peak surveillance state?” asks an overseas writer. I film the reaction of the crowd with my iPhone to find out just to be sure.
2.30pm: I’d like to see more books featuring haughty butlers on the program line-up.
3pm: Ushers throw me out of A Love Affair With Shakespeare after I keep insisting the speakers refer to Shakespeare as “the man we call ‘Shakespeare'”.
4pm: “How come there aren’t more young people at these things?” asks my friend as we settle in for a talk forum entitled “How The Lazy, Godless Youths Of Today Don’t Appreciate Fine Literature … Or Their Elders”.
4.45pm: I learn that the collective noun for a group of librarians is a “shush”.
5pm: Huge queue for Adam Catweasel, author of Borne Supremacy send-up The Boomer Supremacy (at least I hope it’s a send-up).
5.30pm: Purchase commemorative festival quill.
6pm: Ready my best powdered wig to attend the Last Night Salon at Pier 2/3.
6.30pm: “Books can be very sensuous, don’t you think?” I observe to a well-dressed older lady as she reads Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend.
“No … books are sensual,” she says as she hooks her arm around mine. “People are sensuous.”
I think I’ve suddenly caught Ferrante Fever.
Better get the calamine lotion ready.

Like books? Hey, why not try my ebook military thriller, The Spartan?

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