Festivals and Filming

I covered it briefly in my last post, so you already know that the weekend just gone was a doozy.

It all kicked off with the Ballarat Writers and Illustrators Festival on Saturday. I arrived early enough to be included in a tour of the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute – the festival’s venue – which has nothing to do with cars and is, in fact, one of the oldest buildings in Ballarat.

The Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute (photo from their website).

Jill Blee, President of the Institute, showed us the many beautiful rooms the building had to offer while detailing its history for us, which included a book collection that stretched back to the 1700s and subterranean shop fronts that still stand, windowless now, beneath Sturt Street. The entire time I was making mental notes to use all this as a story setting in the future, but given that I was at a writers’ festival I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. In fact, I know I wasn’t…

Author and fellow panelist Michael Panckridge was on the tour with me, which meant that if we were late in getting back that two-thirds of the panel would be MIA. Thankfully we returned in time, meeting third panelist and author Hilary Badger, as well as our moderator Maryanne Ross.

We each discussed our paths to publication, our experiences in the industry, the challenges of writing a series for younger readers, and finally fielded questions from the audience. It was the first time I’ve ever participated in a panel rather than watching one, and was such a great experience that I can’t wait until the next time I get to be on a panel…festival organisers beware!

The next morning my fiance Simone and I set our alarm early(ish) to watch my TV debut, after recording an appearance on Kids’ WB a fortnight earlier. It was a lot of fun, especially given that I was already a fan of the show and couldn’t believe I was getting the chance to appear on it.

Me with Kids’ WB hosts Lauren and Andrew (in his superhero disguise).

The hosts, Lauren Phillips and Andrew Faulkner, were both very friendly and welcoming, as was Allison the producer and all the crew. The studio, which looks big on the screen, turned out to be the corner of a room hidden behind a giant sliding door in the lobby of the Channel 9 building in Melbourne.

Arriving there, I was quickly whisked away to get my make-up done, which was thirty seconds of having my face dusted as Julia Morris sat in the chair beside me cracking jokes about Justin Bieber (no Wikipedia bio necessary). It was so surreal and inexplicable that I’m still not entirely convinced that it wasn’t a dream.

I reported back to the studio, where we managed to get the interview done in two takes (with the second take being done to get a close-up on the book as I pointed to it). The second segment, where Andrew and I competed in a quiz, was done in one take, with Andrew and I chatting about video games between set-ups and Lauren revealing that the first time she’d appeared on TV was when she was nine-years-old and Catriona Rowntree interviewed her for What’s Up Doc?, the ancestor to Kids’ WB that people of my generation still remember fondly.

We wrapped ahead of schedule, finishing up just as I was getting a taste for it, the high school drama geek that still dwells inside me having reawakened. Of course, just because I enjoyed the filming didn’t mean I felt any less self-conscious as we watched it air on Sunday morning. Simone had to keep me from leaving the room more than once, despite my insistence that bagels needed to be buttered and tea had to be poured!

Even as the segments were airing, traffic on this website was seeing a huge spike. If you’re one of the new visitors that came along after watching the show, let me take this chance to say welcome! And for those of you who didn’t get to see it, Kids’ WB uploads a lot of its segments onto their website. Once it’s up I’ll make sure to link to it.

So with that weekend over and done with, things will be a little quieter for the time being. The next event I have scheduled is an in-store appearance at Dymocks Southland on September 22nd (details on the Events page). Make sure to come along and say hi! And in the meantime, I’ll continue looking for a spot to keep the Pillow Pet I won from the Kids’ WB. They’re surprisingly huge and tricky to store, even if they are delightfully soft to the touch.

…that sounded weird.

‘Til next time.

Published by Steven Lochran

Steven Lochran is the author of the upcoming Middle Grade Fantasy series PALADERO, as well as the teen superhero series VANGUARD PRIME. He lives in Melbourne with his wife, two cats, and an unreasonably large toy collection.

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