Guest Post by Katrina McKelvey
I’m a self-confessed reluctant reader. I know what it is like to do anything to avoid reading. As a child I climbed trees instead.
Andy Griffiths has showed me how to love books. He’s my inspiration! Here’s how it all happened …
‘Laughter is the reward for even the most reluctant reader.’ – Andy Griffiths 2014
The year was 2002
I discovered the power of books well into my teacher career. I can’t remember how, but ‘Just Tricking’ by Andy Griffiths landed on my desk. Over the next few years my class and I would lie on the floor after each lunchtime and soak up every word of the ‘Just’ series. It was a powerful bonding experience.
SYDNEY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2011
Not long after I started my journey of writing for children, I learnt Andy was going to be at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I was so going!
I sat in the lecture room mesmerised as he spoke and read from his books. I laughed as much as the children. I was uplifted. However, I was too shy to approach him, take a photo or line up for a book signing.
BYRON BAY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2012
The following year I was given a trip to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival for my birthday. Andy was going to talk to adults and mix with the kids.
As he had talked a lot about ‘The Bad Book’ at the SWF the year before, I bought a copy and went to line up to get it signed. By the time I got there, he’d gone. I’d missed out. I was devastated! Within minutes the most amazing thing happened – THE MOST AMAZING THING!!!!
I saw Andy on his own so I plucked up the courage to go and speak to him. He talked to me – no lines, no people, just us. We chatted about my former teaching career and how to navigate my new writing career. OMG! The conversation was mind-blowing. He signed my ‘The Bad Book’ in the most unusual way too.
Then he went riffling through his bags. He pulled out and gave me some sample exercises from his upcoming book, ‘Once Upon A Slime’. No way! Then Morris Gleitzman joined the conversation, followed by John Marsden. NO WAY! There I was having a conversation with Andy, Morris and John in a paddock out the back of Byron Bay. HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE! And my biggest regret … no photo!
CBCA NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2014
Two years later I met Andy again at the CBCA National Conference in Canberra. I took my 1999 copy of ‘Just Tricking’ for him to sign – the copy that landed on my teaching desk in 2002.
I also asked him to sign ‘The Very Bad Book’ for my son in a very special way. Looks familiar?
He also signed, ‘The Day My Butt Went Psycho’ with a special message for Aidan on his 8th Birthday.
For Aidan. Have a really smelly 8th Birthday. Andy.
Photos weren’t allowed in the signing line so I high-jacked him in the foyer of the conference venue. He was very obliging and he even introduced me to his publicist. She took the photo!
BYRON BAY WRITERS’ FESTIVAL 2014
Later the same year, I returned to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival . We had another chat and I got a few more books signed. From there, we agreed I would be known as ‘Katrina from Newcastle’.
SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAL 2015
Earlier this year I attended the SWF again. I took my son as he is also a huge Andy Griffiths fan. After an early start and a long train trip we arrived to discover we had missed out on getting into his session so we listened and peeked through a gap in the wall of red curtains.
We waited for nearly two hours to reach the top of the signing line. Aidan had his special moment … another one for me too!
Andy asked me how I broke my arm. I told him I fell out of a treehouse! I actually fell out of my own house – down 2 steps into the garage – but I thought it was funny! He does humour better than I do.
My next mission? To catch up with Terry Denton. We’ve already met but that’s another story.
I hope others have had similar experiences as I have. I’d love to hear about them.
Written by Katrina McKelvey, author of ‘Dandelions’ to be released October 2015.
** Thanks Katrina! An awesome read. **
*** Andy Griffiths is celebrating his birthday today! Happy Birthday from everyone at Just Write For Kids Australia! 😀 ***