2012 Perth Writers Festival

Other people wandering about at the Perth Writers FestivalYesterday was Family Day at the Perth Writers Festival and we had a brilliant time wandering about the grounds of UWA listening to free talks and bumping into authors and illustrators of our favourite books.

Here’s a photo of other people who were also wandering about enjoying the literary goodness of the day.  ———————————————————————->

We started the day in the tropical grove listening to Cristy Burne talking about school camping trips and Japanese horror stories (it turns out there’s not much difference). James Roy was giving out some good writing tips to keen young writers in his audience. Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac had their audience roaring with laughter, stamping feet … and throwing plastic fruit … as they performed the story of The Greatest Liar on Earth—their new picture book. There were also baby animals to help launch Karen Blair‘s book Baby Animal Farm (and cupcakes, too). And heaps of other author and illustrators talks which we didn’t get to because we were so interested in each session we kept forgetting to duck out halfway through to check out the others that were running at the same time. (OOPS—did you go to any others? Let us know what you thought in the comments!)

Here’s a photo of Briony Stewart, author of the Kumiko and the Dragon series.

Briony Stewart, Perth Writers Festival 2012

(She looks like she’s singing opera in this shot, but actually she’s talking about the bravery of the characters in her story.)

And a shot of author and comedian Oliver Phommavanh signing a copy of Thai-riffic! for us.

Oliver Phommavanh at Perth Writers Festival

And we just had to take a photo of this art installation by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa. It is called Breathing Flower and it was floating on the reflection pond at Whitfield Court. It’s HUGE and amazing to look at. And it’s there for the Festival of Perth (not just the Writers Festival) but we reckon it makes a good writing prompt for a story or poem …

Breathing Flower (art installation by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa)

If you’re in Perth, did you go to Family Day this year? Who were your favourite speakers? (Was there anyone else you wish was a speaker?)


Three Quick Questions: Oliver Phommavanh (#1)

Hurrah! It’s October!

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today we are thrilled to hear from Oliver Phommavanh, comedian and author of Thai-riffic and Con-nerd.

Thai-riffic! (cover)con-nerd (cover)

1. Where do you like to write?

In libraries, surrounded by books and other nerds who are studying.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

Northwood by Brian Falkner— a wonderful adventure book with weird things going on.

northwood cover
Oliver Phommavanh recommends Northwood by Brian Falkner

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have writers’ block?

Passion! (Write about things you love.)

Find out more about Oliver Phommavanh and his books by visiting his website and his blog.

(Psst … tomorrow illustrator Frané Lessac answers our Three Quick Questions!)

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Oliver Phommavanh” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)


October is Birthday Month!

balloonsWe’re very excited about October because October is our Birthday Month. And this year we’re turning THREE.

So, three is our favourite number for a month. We have a three-themed writing competition, we’ll be giving away three writers’ journals later in the month (over three days) and from 3rd October we’ll have a stream of writers and illustrators stopping by the blog all month to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS.

All our writers and illustrators will be answering the same three questions:

1. Where do you like to write/draw?

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have writers’ block?

Our first visitor will be Oliver Phommavanh—comedian and author of Thai-riffic! and Con-nerd.

See you back here on Monday!

authors, illustrator, teachers' resources

Kids’ workshops, July 2011 (NSW)

Can I cuddle the moon? (cover)ILLUSTRATING WORKSHOP with children’s illustrator, Lisa Stewart

Kids aged 8–12 will use Washi (Japanese) papers combined with drawing to create original works of art.

When: Tues 5 July  2011, 9am–12.30pm.

Cost: $50 per student. All materials provided.

Book early! RSVP to The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW. Email or tel 9481 8811.

Thai-riffic! (cover)WRITING WORKSHOP with Oliver Phommavanh, author of Thai-riffic!

9–12 year olds can explore the writing process, learn how to develop plot, character and setting.

When: Wed 6 July 2011, 9am–12.30pm

Cost: $50 per student, all materials provided

Bookings essential. RSVP early to The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW. or tel 9481 8811.

authors, teachers' resources

Meet the author: Oliver Phommavanh!

"Oliver Phommavanh, author of Thai-riffic!"
Oliver Phommavanh, author of Thai-riffic!

In every issue of Alphabet Soup magazine we interview an author or illustrator. The trouble is, we can only fit some of their answers in the magazine. So we print the full interviews on the blog—we wouldn’t want you to miss out!

In issue 10 we talked to Oliver Phommavanh, author of Thai-riffic!

Where do you live?
I live at my website, and blog (how’s that for shameless plugging in the first question?). Offline, I live in Liverpool, Western Sydney.

What do you love best about being a writer?
I never have to grow up hehe. I really love creating quirky characters and cramming in as many funny jokes as I can. Plus I enjoy visiting different schools and making kids laugh.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I was a bookworm so I have many favourites. I loved Paul Jennings’s ‘Un’ series and Morris Gleitzman’s Blabber Mouth and Sticky Beak books. Hating Alison Ashley was also pretty cool.

Was it easy to get Thai-riffic! published?
Not really. I knew it was going to be tough so I prepared myself for lots of rejections and setbacks. But I also had this belief that there was nothing like Thai-riffic! out there yet, so that kept me going. It was going to be a matter of time until I saw Thai-riffic! on the shelves.

"Thai-riffic!" coverWhat do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love playing video games and reading (still proud to be a bookworm). I’m a primary school teacher and stand up comedian so my days are jam packed!

What made you become a writer?
I always wanted to be one, ever since I started getting awards for writing in Year 1. It took me some time to find my audience and style though. I tried my hand at adult fiction in my uni days. Then I tried teaching and realised that I was destined to write for kids.

Where do you get your ideas?
Most of my stories start off with a core moment or feeling from my childhood. Some of my characters are based on kids that I’ve taught. Teaching can be wonderful market research hehe. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, soaking up funny lines, come backs and any striking language and descriptions of the classroom. I’ve also trained my brain as a stand up comedian to squeeze out jokes from any situation.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
Get yourself out there in the writing community. I joined a writers group and other organisations such as SCBWI and CBCA, meeting lots of writers and authors. I’ve been lucky to get my breaks through festivals and conferences, where publishers are so approachable, in other words, they can’t escape hehe. There are heaps of competitions to enter, if you win then you gain some cred and assurance that you’re on the right track. And just keep writing, let those words flow. If you’re enjoying the process, then you’re halfway there.

Are you working on a book at the moment?
I’ve just finished my second book Con-nerd, coming out in June 2011. It’s about a nerd (me, surprise surprise) who has a knack for drawing cartoons that suddenly makes him cool and popular. I’ve just started writing my next book about a teenager doing stand up comedy, which should hit the shelves in 2012.

Do any of your family or friends recognise themselves in your writing?
I hope so because I love using their names as characters in my stories. Thai-riffic!‘s eccentric parents are based on Mum and Dad. Everyone’s grateful to find their names and/or personalities in print. It’s a simple way of thanking them for supporting me on my ‘cHEwY’ journey.

You can find out more about Oliver Phommavanh and his books on his website and blog.

authors, competitions, info, poetry, teachers' resources

Autumn 2011 Alphabet Soup is out!

Issue 10 cover Alphabet SoupThe autumn issue of Alphabet Soup magazine was posted yesterday, so if you are a subscriber—you’ll find it in your letterbox sometime over the next few days. Yay!

Here’s what you’ll find inside issue 10:

  • Q&A with author, Oliver Phommavanh
  • How to have fun with chemistry (2011 is the International Year of Chemistry!)
  • Writing tips for kids from The Book Chook
  • Stories and poems by children’s authors and poets
  • Stories, poems and book reviews by kids
  • Crossword
  • Our autumn writing competition

Later today we’ll be announcing the winners of our summer 2010 writing competition and posting the winning poems here on the blog. AND we’ll be posting the Q&A with Oliver Phommavanh. So stay tuned!


"Book pack from Fremantle Press*"

Are you a subscriber? Subscribers are entered into a draw every season – this season’s winner receives a $200 book pack from Fremantle Press! (Books may differ from those pictured.)

Subscribe to Alphabet Soup