Ok, so did a whole bunch of other people, but that’s not important 🙂
On Friday I got to meet one of my literary heroes when Tim Winton came to the Safety Beach Yacht Club on the Mornington Peninsula for a literary lunch to coincide with the release of his latest book The Boy Behind the Curtain.
For most, Winton needs no introduction. He’s published twenty-eight books for adults and children, won the Australian Vogel Award, won the Miles Franklin Award four times, and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I’ve long admired Winton’s work – he writes with such authenticity and lyrical beauty that at times I’ve stopped reading to reflect on the magic I’ve just experienced, or to wonder if I could ever inspire such depth of emotion in my writing.
The themes of Winton’s books capture Australian life and culture in all its rawness and realism. Family dynamics are explored and probed, coming of age issues, environment, spirituality, nostalgia, and gender are all brought to life through well-rounded characters and plots cast in familiar settings. It’s the settings he writes so vividly that I find most satisfying about Winton’s work. He has a talent for writing landscape and place, so that the very locations of his books take on a persona of their own and become as significant as central characters.
This was echoed in Winton’s response to an audience question about what kick starts a story idea. “I start from a place – a social or physical ecology. For me background comes first, that’s why landscape is so important in my writing. I steep myself in a place … and out of the heat wave, a figure comes.”
Winton was generous with his time, reading two excerpts from his new book, a memoir delivered through reflections on events that have shaped his life and impacted his writing. He conversed at length with facilitator Paul Kennedy (author of Fifteen Young Men), before signing books and graciously posing for photos.
I was a slightly author struck, but (amazingly, for me) managed not to say or do anything to embarrass myself! The day was made more enjoyable by sharing a table with some of the lovely crew from the Peninsula Writers’ Club – who are all die hard fangirls – and we got a group shot to celebrate the momentous occasion.
Author talks and literary lunches are a great way to meet likeminded people, and get motivated and inspired. And when you get to meet one of your literary heroes it’s a shot in the arm that makes you want to dust off that manuscript buried in the bottom drawer, or get started on a new project right away.
Happy writing, happy reading and happy days.