More than 240 authors and illustrators have had the opportunity to share their stories with a captivated audience through the Voices on the Coast youth literature festival since its inception.
Now in its 22nd year and hosted by Immanuel Lutheran College, the festival continues to inspire young people to enjoy reading, writing, drawing and performing.
This year, two student days will be held at the University of the Sunshine Coast and a number of community events will be open to adults, emerging writers and readers.
Festival coordinator Kelly Dunham expects around 4500 Year 4 to 12 students from 70 schools to participate in 150 talks and workshops by 30 authors and illustrators, with some students travelling as far as 200 kilometres to participate.
Among this year’s stellar line-up of presenters are Sunshine Coast young authors Michelle Law, Tash Turgoose, Lynette Noni and Emily Larkin, who have all built strong profiles in their respective fields and will share their journey with aspiring young authors who wish to follow in their footsteps in a Sunshine Coast Girls Conquer the Publication World presentation at Immanuel on July 19 at 5.15pm.
Miss Law and Miss Larkin are both former Immanuel students and Ms Dunham says they will be a true source of inspiration for festival attendees. “There is also a USC session with Emily and Tash and their lecturer Ross Watkins, focusing on how they managed to get published. There are many young people who have books sitting in the bottom drawer, or on the laptop, waiting to get out there and this could be the key to helping them find out how to do it,” she says.
“While the festival allows us to bring these talented people to the Coast to share their knowledge, it also provides students an opportunity to converse with authors, illustrators, performers and poets. They are real people with real stories and students are real people with real stories as well.”
Ms Dunham, who has been at the helm of the festival for 13 years, says the creatives get just as much out of it as those to attend.
“Pat Flynn many years ago described it as his ‘One Direction rock-star moment’. These students are totally awe-struck and elevate them to rock star status, which is a huge boost to the confidence of these creatives,” she says.
“My personal highlight every single year it to see the kids’ faces light up when they have that engagement with their favourite author.
“Watching those wide-eyed faces looking up in awe is absolutely why I do it. When they buy the book and have the author sign it, you know every one of them will be read and enjoyed.”
The festival comes to a close on July 21. For a full program and ticket information, visit voicesonthecoast.com.au.