This past week I’ve been busy meeting children, teachers, librarians and parents in South Australia. There were 14 school talks (to 17 different schools – some of whom were bussed into the venue), a workshop with adults interested in writing for children, two in store signings, a librarians’ and teachers’ showcase event with Janeen Brian and Mike Dumbleton and three dinners out – including our side trip to Millicent via Mount Gambier. Suffice to say I’m a little tired today and glad for some time at home. It was especially lovely to meet Rhyllis Bignell who has written such kind reviews about my books over the past few years and to see the enthusiastic readers in her school, Allenby Gardens. There were parents too who have been following me on Facebook and Twitter and it was lovely to meet them in person. The new website has been a great hit and I was amazed by the number of newsletter sign ups we’ve had since last Monday.
Our trip to Millicent was lots of fun and never having been to that part of Australia before it was lovely to have a whistle stop tour around Blue Lake, the beautiful crater in Mount Gambier on our way to Millicent on Tuesday morning. We were picked up by librarian extraordinaire, Janice Nitsche, who has been with the Millicent Library service for many years and achieved incredible things. This year the town is celebrating 50 years of having a library service and 21 years of being in what is still a very beautiful and functional library. Janice had organised a fantastic day meeting children both at their schools and organising to have several of the small schools bussed into the library. The collection of antiques in the library courtesy of a bequest from one of the local residents is magnificent. Sadly we had a very short time in the area and had to board a plane back to Adelaide at 7am on Wednesday morning. I hope to get back and have more time both in Millicent and Mount Gambier in the future.
Having stayed in Adelaide for a month last year during my May Gibbs Creative Time Residency it felt a bit like a homecoming and I was pleased to be able to show Dot, our wonderful Head of Publicity and Marketing at Random House some of my favourite haunts – particularly around The Parade in Norwood. Nice to see that Argo still have the best coffee in Adelaide and just as they had done last time, Dillon’s had a fabulous big sticker adorning their front windows about my upcoming signing. Over the course of the week it was great to catch up with Linda from Dymocks Rundle Mall and meet Marian too (they are both contagiously enthusiastic about books for kids and young adults) and I was excited to see James and Chrissy Williams and their gorgeous boys and Rebecca Bird who is an integral member of the Peggy Williams’ family, all of whom I’d gotten to know when I was in Adelaide last year. I am looking forward to seeing the new Peggy Williams shop when it opens later in the year and can report that it’s going to be amazing (we had a sneak peek on Friday afternoon).
It was wonderful to meet new booksellers too – Jenny Baber of Pages and More, who have a lovely shop at Glenelg and another down at Victor Harbor and as always the people from Lamont’s in Melbourne were fantastic in supplying books for my Millicent events. I was disappointed that my trip didn’t afford the time to catch up with any of the lovely ladies from the May Gibbs’ Trust but I was pleased to meet current writer in residence, Ian Trevaskis who popped into my signing at Dillon’s Norwood. It sounds as if he’s having a very productive time in the little flat.
We finished the tour with two terrific bookshop events at Dillon’s Norwood then over to Collins Edwardstown, where they ran a dress up competition. Dillons had run a colouring competition and I was astounded by the number of entries. Both shops are wonderful supporters of my books and I thank them for having me.
On our way home Dot and I were marvelling at how well everything had gone – we’d managed to get everywhere we needed to on time and all of the events ran like clockwork. But perhaps we spoke too soon. As we stood by the baggage carousel, which on every rotation grew more and more sparse, it became apparent that Dot’s bag might not have made it home with us. But being the well travelled woman she is, she had all the essential items with her and could do without the rest for the time being. It seems her bag had developed a taste for international travel and was finally located on Sunday morning in the International Terminal before being redirected for home.
Adelaide has a great place in my heart and I can’t wait to be back there again soon. In the meantime I am enjoying getting lots of emails and comments from the Adelaide kids I met while on tour and if I didn’t get to your school on this visit, check in with the newsletter and my events pages to see when I’m heading your way again.