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Scribblers Festival: Q & A

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It’s the annual festival of literature and arts for young people which promises to entertain, inform and encourage reading – what’s not to love about Scribblers Festival?

With programming just for schools, a free weekend for the whole family, and mini-events throughout the year, Scribblers Festival invites young people and the young-at-heart to celebrate the magic of storytelling.
The Festival brings together authors, illustrators and other storytellers from Perth, across Australia, and around the world to empower and engage young readers through interactive sessions and workshops. In the lead up to the festival, over 15,000 feather-shaped bookmarks are scattered throughout public libraries across Western Australia, with five rare Golden Feathers waiting to be found by lucky young readers as part of the annual Golden Feather Hunt.

Scribblers encourages young writers to put their ideas on to paper for a chance to win a The Golden Pen Writing Award, and lets teens take over the mic to create podcasts that are broadcast around the world from our very own Conversation Caravan.  

Scribblers Festival, Subiaco Arts Centre and Regal Theatre, Schools Program, 24 May to June 1, Family Program, 29 to 30 May. Visit scribblersfestival.com.au.

MEET THE WRITER - CRISTY BURNE
Children’s author and science writer Cristy Burne is passionate about empowering our next generation of creative, science-savvy citizen - and she practices what she preaches. She has worked as a science communicator for 20 years across seven countries and has performed in a science circus, worked as a garbage analyst, and was a reporter at CERN when they turned on the Large Hadron Collider. 
Cristy works at the intersection of science, technology and creativity. Her latest books include Beneath the Trees, Aussie STEM Stars: Fiona Wood and Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows, co-written with Denis Knight.
 
GM: You're a passionate advocate of the power of books (no batteries required) - how do you convince a kid who's book-phobic to give them a go?
 
CB: Getting a kid into reading is all about finding the right book. My advice? Let kids choose the stories they want to read. And don’t forget: sharing stories is one of the best ways to bond with your children. Read to your kids on the couch. Do the voices. Stop at the cliff-hangers. Leave them begging to find out what happens next. Insert mock-evil laughter whenever you can.
 
GM: When you attend book festivals like Scribblers, what do you enjoy most about the experience?
 
CB: I love the uber-joy energy I feel when I’m hanging out with other booklovers and book creators. Festivals like Scribblers are a kind of magic, where stories and ideas and pictures and passion all mix together to create a shared adventure. I love being part of that adventure. I love that everyone is creating the adventure together. I always come away so inspired to make and create and do. Also, the food in the green room is fantastic.
 
GM: What are you doing at this year's Scribblers Festival - and what are you looking forward to seeing/hearing during the event?
 
CB: At this year’s festival I’m celebrating science and fantasy, creativity and wonder, adventure and comedy. I’ll be talking about my latest books, Beneath The Trees (ages 6+; based on my true-life rainforest adventure); Aussie STEM Stars – Fiona Wood (ages 12+; the especially-for-kids biography of burns surgeon and inventor of spray-on skin, Fiona Wood); and Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows (ages 8+; the first in a funny fantasy-meets-STEM series co-authored with Denis Knight). I’m also super-keen to hear from other book creators, and to soak up all the energy and passion in the room. And I’ll be bringing my stuffed giant pink slug in an attempt to break the world record for Most Photos Taken With A Gastropod.
 
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GM: What are you currently working on? What inspires you at the moment?
 
CB: I’m frantically working on final edits for Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny, book 2 in the Wednesday Weeks series, which asks the question: In a world of magic, can science save the day? Basically, Gorgomoth the Unclean is on the loose again, and he’s stolen the Ruby Ring plus turned Grandpa into a frog (how very dare he!), so it’s up to Wednesday and Alfie – with help from Bruce and their new friend Adaline – to track down Gorgomoth and stop him bringing on the Third Age of Never Ending Darkness. There are wormholes, giant pinball machines, an evil lair, some missing eyebrows (Wednesday doesn’t want to talk about it), and co-author Denis Knight and I are racing against time to get everything ready for September release.
 
GM: Has COVID taken your creativity in new directions? How do you mesh the two different worlds of science and literature?
 
CB: Anyone who has ever felt wonder or curiosity is a scientist. And COVID is shining a global light on the importance of science and innovation. Science is all about discovery. Innovation is all about creativity. We need people who can think outside the box, who can stand bravely in the face of huge challenges, and who can work together in multi-disciplinary teams. I think literature is hugely important in developing these skills, especially for young people. This is my twentieth year as a children’s science journalist – and my twelfth year as a children’s author. And every morning (OK, so, almost every morning), I jump out of bed feeling lucky to be feeding the brains and souls of our next generation.
 
GM: Who inspires you and what would you like to write about which you haven’t covered as yet?
 
CB: I’m inspired by almost everyone I meet. Every one of us is struggling to do our best for our friends, our families and our planet. And we’re all trying to work out how to do that. Every time I chat to someone, I learn something. I’m always jotting down little bits of wisdom, cool ideas, fun tips. I think trying to be ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good enough’ and so I’m inspired by the chance just to give it a go, to explore and journey and try. There are no right answers; all we need to do is take action.
 
GM: If you could invite some famous writers/scientists round to your book club, who would they be and why?
 
CB: We’re so lucky here in Western Australia to be bulging at the seams with incredible writers and scientists, illustrators and inventors. I’m a member of the WA Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which is like a giant book club, and every time we get together there are ideas and laughter bouncing off the walls. If I could hang out with anyone at all, I think I’d choose Marie Curie – in the early 1900s she won a Nobel Prize for Physics and another for Chemistry, making her the first woman to win a Nobel, and the only person ever to win two in different fields.