On the 11th May, I went to meet Eoin Colfer and Emily Rodda in a talkshow type event that was being held from 5:30-6:30pm by Words Down Under, the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. This was the first time that I had ever met an author that I admired and whose works I enjoyed, and so I was very, very excited. It’s taken me a while to write everything down, as I stupidly forgot to bring a pen and paper with me, and also because I am a tad bit fanatical about remembering everything, so this has ended up being really long. In fact, I am splitting it into three parts. So, here’s Part 1. of my experience:
After school finished at 3:20pm, I met up with my mum at the parking lot and dumped my 10 kg school bags in the car (I swear, they really are that heavy. It’s horrible, walking up and down stairs every day while carrying them). We went shopping first, as there was a sale at a gorgeous but expensive Indian shop which imported silks and jewellery for the first time ever to celebrate their tenth birthday anniversary. Then, at half past four we went down to the Aotea Centre, where I guiltily ate my cheese and crackers (with vegetables) sitting on a black leather armchair/couch and getting crumbs everywhere.
I tried to tell myself that I should not be nervous, as I was only going to LISTEN to Eoin Colfer speak, maybe ask a question, and then get my book (and my friend’s books) signed if this service was offered. It wasn’t like I was actually going to sit there in front of the audience and talk! I didn’t believe myself, unfortunately, so remained tense and (argh, the pains of being human) sweating throughout the talk and during the signing afterwards. At 10 past 5, I couldn’t take the suspense any more, so parted with my mum and entered the NZI room, which was a huge room where the talk was being held, in the lower levels of the Aotea Centre. The room was rectangular and had been split into 5 blocks of seats. There were two enormous screens on either side of a smallish stage at the centre , in front of the middle block of seats. However, upon entering, I found that the first 5 rows of seats in the middle were reserved, so I sat on the ‘aisle seat’ at about the middle of the room, from where I got a good view from both a screen and the actual podium. It was also conveniently close to the door, so I could get to the signing line afterwards.
The room started to fill up fast, and in the end, the reserved seats were given to the people who sat behind them (lucky them). I think that there were a
couple of hundred in the audience, of all ages – 7 to 70, as kids, their parents, and their grandparents waited for the talk to begin. At 5:35, after a slight delay because of door sales, Kate de Goldi, a Wellingtonian authoress, introduced the guests and they entered from a well-concealed door. Eoin Colfer wore a dark blue suit with a slightly lighter shirt and dark tie, and he had longish white hair, and a white moustache and a small beard. Personally, I prefer him clean-shaven; he looked a bit odd with facial hair.
Poor guy, Emily Rodda monopolised the conversation a bit, and it was quite clear that Kate De Goldi, the hostess, favoured her over Colfer for some absurd reason. He didn’t look especially interested in what was going on sometimes, just looking in this one direction, and sometimes glancing at the ceiling – mostly when Rodda was going on and on – and then suddenly he’d make this face, and everyone would burst into laughter, but when Goldi turned to face him, no one would’ve guessed, he looked so composed. A bit like a brick, I suppose. As in, you look at a brick and it just looks back at you, but when you turn your head and then look back again, you find it has moved an inch, and you have no idea how, because it’s a brick, and bricks don’t move.
So Colfer was reduced to, basically, one line answers, although sometimes he managed to slip in a couple more, for the duration of the ‘talk’. The audience did, however, still get to experience his wonderful deadpan humour – his face wouldn’t move a muscle as he delivered his line. They also learnt that he hates cop out endings – and he suggested to students that if one did not want to get an F grade for their story, “it was all a dream” endings never ought to be used, because they are considered irritating, lazy and boring by teachers (this was speaking from experience).
When de Goldi opened the discussion up for questions, A fair few were for Colfer, so in the last half hour we did manage to learn quite a bit. Not too many questions ended up being answered, as there were some long-winded explanations, but those who didn’t have theirs answered were advised to slip them in when getting a book signed, which was what I did.
All in all, I had a very good time, despite Rodda’s “less than scintillating speaking abilities”, as a friend of mine who also heard her speak said. It was extremely exciting, and I hope that I will remember yesterday night for years to come.