Saturday, May 19, 2012

The ABIA awards or Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

It was party time in Sydney this week and, when sitting in the sunshine on the deck of the Sebel Pier One Hotel, looking across the water at the hub of the writers' festival, I suddenly, desperately wanted to live there. Provided I could have a house by the water, of course, which isn't going to happen any time soon on my royalties, so back to Melbourne I came. (But that's OK. I have the Merri Creek. A little smaller and browner than Sydney's spectacular harbour, but charming all the same.)
For those of you who don't know, The Big Book of Billie was shortlisted for an ABIA**. The awards were presented last night, and my wonderful publishers at Hardie Grant Egmont were kind enough to fly me up for the dinner. I have been telling friends that the ABIAs are a bit like the ARIAs only for books. And less glamourous. And with no rock stars. But with books! All the same, I am happy to report,  the ol' book industry can absolutely turn on the razzle dazzle. Gorgeous frocks and champagne a-plenty. There was even those Logie-style whirling spotlight things as people went up onto the stage to collect their awards, which was quite amusing. I didn't win the award, it was won by the wonderfully talented Emma Quay, but I did get to sit on a table with Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (two of my favourite picture book creators) and a whole lot of fabulous Hardie Grant gals. There were some great speeches (notably Michael Heyward's dedication to the late Diana Gribble) and a few exciting 'celebrity' appearances: Kathy Lette (looking glam), Roddy Doyle (author of one of my all time favourite books 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha') and even Tony Abbott (not quite sure why). Mostly I was impressed by how vibrant, innovative and passionate the Australian Book Industry is, particularly as everybody keeps predicting doom and gloom for the future of the book. If last night was any barometer as to how its future is looking in Australia, I would say it was as sunny as Sydney day by the harbour.

* In memory of the late, great Maurice Sendak.
** ABIA: Australian Book Industry Awards. Not to be confused with the Australian Bridal Industry Awards, or even Australian Battery Industry Association. It's amazing what comes up if you google ABIA.

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