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Shining a light on Isobelle Carmody

There is something rather magical about Isobelle Carmody.

Touted as Australia’s own version of J.K Rowling, Carmody has a sparkle about her; a twinkle in her eye, as though she has knows a powerful secret. With wild, raven black hair and small elfin like features, you could actually imagine Carmody stepping straight out of one of her fantasy books – or perhaps that is just the spell she casts upon you.

I had the pleasure of seeing Isobelle Carmody speak at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2012. It was purely by accident that I ended up at the ABC3 tent, after my 10-year old daughter decided to tag along with me at the last minute. As a guest blogger with Southern Cross University, I was lucky enough to see some superb sessions at the Writers’ Festival this year, including some truly wonderful Australian talent. But by far the most memorable session for me, both as a writer and as a mother, was the session with Isobelle Carmody – the one I attended with my daughter.

Isobelle Carmody is an award-winning Australian writer of science fiction, fantasy, children’s literature and young adult literature. Her rich and vivid imagination shines just as brightly in person as it does on the page and she connects to her audience with an honesty and authenticity that is so often missing when children are involved.

Carmody has written extensively for adults,  however, today’s crowd was made up predominantly of book-loving youngsters between the ages of 4-18,  many of whom came out to the festival today, especially to meet her.

I had seen Carmody interviewed the day before by a Southern Cross media student, and thought she seemed intriguing. While everyone else visiting Byron Bay was admiring the spectacularly warm winter weather, Carmody was cursing and complaining.

“Too much sun,” she said. “I’m not a fan of the sun.”

My 10-year old daughter had read a couple of her more popular books at school,  but had no preconceived idea about the author one way or another. But within minutes of being up on the stage, Carmody had won us both over, and towards the end of the session we marched straight over to the book tent to get our new books signed, with a gaggle of fans eagerly lining up behind us.

After family and friends, books are what matter most to me in the world, and to see my child engaged and excited about the idea of reading and writing; to see her eyes light up and her mind wander off and into the realm of imagination – well, it’s worth its weight in gold (or in gold-dust, as Carmody might say). And she certainly sprinkled plenty of that our way.

Michelle Sim is a student at Southern Cross University.

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