Please note, it is an illustrative rather than a scientific cartography workshop! I am neither a cartographer nor a geographer — my maps are big pictures of the spaces where stories happen. BUT you do not have to be an illustrator or even able to draw particularly well to take this workshop — you just need to be willing to draw and break open a world. I will be teaching some drawing tricks, and mostly it’s about story.
The Brisbane Writers Festival is back — and done for the year (it’s staying in May, now, and next year is the 60th anniversary). It was lovely to see people again, and sketch in the cafe, and listen to talks on history and life, poetry and family.
I usually have difficulty remembering what happened on a panel, but many people said lovely things about it afterwards, and there were some excellent questions.
I do remember one question on how you judge the parameters of magic/myth when writing it into a ‘real-world’ story. We all had different answers, of course — the fairytales in Melissa’s novel were specifically contained and retold within a historical, non-fantastic setting; Tabitha followed a theme and let the elements grow; I talked about (a) developing an ear for certain types of stories, so you can hear when you strike a false note, and (b) letting the magical elements sit in the setting/story until they start to change each other — and following the consequences.
There was another question, too, on the purpose/use of myth and fairytale. Melissa was specifically dealing with the way fairytales were used to communicate and argue around the restrictions of a society and royal censorship. Tabitha was using them as a way to allow the processing of grief and loss, and the preservation of what is mourned. I spoke about their usefulness as a template, because I find it more organic to use a fairy tale as a structural key than to think about acts and arcs — that’s a matter of familiarity and ease. But I also got onto another favourite topic, about how there are points in time where people sort of agree on how certain stories are to be told (you see it when artists agree what the basic cat should look like, which makes medieval cat drawings look implausible, until you meet cats who look just like them). I find that having a sheaf of alternative templates (fairy tales, for me) lets me shake those ideas loose, and look at them in a different light. So, for example, people are starting to tell post-lockdown stories, and those are starting to converge. But you could pick any number of fairy tales and retell the story through that: “Rapunzel” is an obvious one, but “Little Red Riding Hood” would work just as well (the year that was eaten by a wolf), or even Cinderella — I had just broken new shoes in at the start of 2020, and now I’m having all sorts of problems wearing them again.
A particularly memorable panel I went to was “Out of the Wreckage”, in which Kelly Higgins-Devine interviewed Margaret Cook’sA River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods and Jamie Simmonds’ Rising from the Flood: Moving the Town of Grantham. I still have very vivid memories of the 2011 floods (as well as being cut off, I’d started at the Department of Transport and Main Roads just days before they happened, and since something like 95% of the state’s transport networks were affected by that year’s rains, it was a crash course in the department’s responsibilities!), and was tangentially involved with some of the Grantham relocation. It was a vivid and compelling discussion (and surprisingly entertaining), so I am looking forward to reading these two.
I’m giving a narrative map illustration workshop for the Queensland Writers Centre on 19 June 2021. It will be face to face at the Queensland Writers Centre in the Queensland State Library (Brisbane), but the event (and me bounding around drawing on boards and building small worlds, while pursued by the videographer) will also be live-streamed.
Please note, it is an illustrative rather than a scientific cartography workshop! But you do not have to be an illustrator or even able to draw particularly well to take it — you just need to be willing to draw and break open a world. I will be teaching some drawing tricks, and mostly it’s about story.
Some extremely tiny process sketches, collecting my thoughts for the school workshops I taught last week at Words Out West.
These smallest drawings, just the faintest hint of thoughts, are very useful for collecting thoughts, and sorting through plans, ideas, and references it would take a long time to organise any other way. It’s therefore also a good way to condense large and nebulous ideas onto observation journal pages.
The workshops ended up being about drawing tiny things (although not this small!) and collecting favourite parts of stories (because most of my art workshops end up being about stories).
The drawings with the students were much larger than these, but I did show the classes these examples, to demonstrate how low the bar between informative and illegible is.
This post began as a post on Patreon — if you’d like to support more tiny art, patrons there get behind-the-scenes process and sneak-peeks, starting from US$1, or you could buy me a (virtual) coffee at ko-fi.com/tanaudel(and I get through quite a bit of coffee).
Shveta Thakrar and I will be reading at KGB Fantastic Fiction (online) this week! New York time it’s at 7pm on Wednesday 17 February. That’s 10amon Thursday in Brisbane, which is11am Eastern Australian daylight time (e.g. Sydney and Melbourne.
My interview with Mike Zipser on Faster Forward Live is up on YouTube, talking about art and Flyaway and all sorts of things — and while we were missing catching up in person, I think we got the chance to talk to each other with far fewer distractions than we would have at a convention!
The video of the Avid Reader launch of my Flyaway(from August) is now up on Avid Reader’s YouTube channel — it starts with an introduction by Garth Nix, followed by a really delightful conversation with Fiona Stager.
Incidentally, if you’re not from Brisbane but are chasing a personally signed copy, your best bet is to contact Avid Reader or Pulp Fiction — they know (or should do, but do tell them) that I’m happy to get myself to the store within the following week and sign things (maybe let me know you’ve ordered the book, too). There will probably be a similar arrangement with Travelogues.