Friday, 20 April 2012

Why do you like coming to the SCBWI Conference? Guest blogger: Scott Chambers

Why do you like coming to the SCBWI Conferences? Or if this is your first, what do you hope to find? I asked Scott Chambers, developing-writing, scientist and generally funny man about his thoughts.... 

Since the first time I convinced my better half that it was – at least not an entirely silly and self-serving idea – to attend a SCBWI Australia and New Zealand Conference and hang out at The Hughenden for a couple of days, I have accumulated a significantly more impressive and plausible list of justifications for this semi-regular release of family funds. 

I found the success stories of first-time-published authors particularly inspirational and the opportunities to mingle and chat with like-minded, seasoned authors (who were all surprisingly normal and approachable than the physicists I usually bump into) incredibly motivational; to the point that my writing dreams started to seem much less fanciful.

The organised sessions on writing and the publishing processes in general that I attended were very informative, and there were fantastic opportunities around the swap/sell table to get some wonderful books signed by the authors and illustrators (even though I often stooped to using my son as an excuse).

If I can trust my failing memory at all, when,four years ago I arrived ridiculously early on a Saturday morning for my first SCBWI meet – presumably looking as lost and out of place as I felt – I was called over by the wonderful Sandy Fussell who was enjoying a morning coffee.

I would be hard pressed to think of a better person to welcome me to the fold of children’s authors and illustrators. Though I have yet to earn the right to change my Facebook status from ‘pre-published’, and I continue to annoy family and friends with half-baked drafts, I’m enjoying and learn from the many stages of the writing process; which is the whole point, isn’t it? Or have I missed something entirely? 

Well, since you asked, Sheryl....
I am employed as an Atmospheric Research Scientist in the Institute for Environmental Research at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (where I mainly make things to capture radon gas and think of inventively weird ways of using it as a passive atmospheric tracer - no, that's right, I don't get out much).
My current escape from publishing scientific bits and pieces in journals only read by people with lab coats and fuzzy sideburns is a fairy (um, correction - faerie) story ... of sorts, that deeply probes the power of Belief and caffeine; it also involves a cantankerous donkey and psychotic cat - but only to fill in the boring bits between all the action and teen Fey romance.
Thus far, my only publication of note is a pillowcase poem, that came out of the 2011 Sydney Writer's Festival; which are still available, so I believe, for all those wanting something a little different on their bookshelves, or an expensive duster.
I'm also the face behind the 'Ask Dudley' columnist and occasional reviewer for Blue Dingo and Bug In a Book e-mags.