With over 150 speakers from 31 countries, this year’s UWRF lineup is a literary treasure trove of discoveries. Each week in the lead up to the Festival, we’ll speak to a writer whose work you may not yet have encountered, but who could well turn out to be your Festival favorite. For the sixth installment, we spoke with children’s author and science writer, Cristy Burne.
What issues and ideas are you hoping to explore during your UWRF17 sessions?
I want to think more about children, parenting, science and our possible futures. I believe my job – as a children’s author, science writer and parent – is to provide children with nourishing experiences. Our next generation’s intelligence, creativity and empathy will determine our shared future.
If we can teach our children what it feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes, if we can inspire in our children the desire to make the world a better place, and if we can give our children the power to dream, then we’re doing the very best job. That’s a little of what I want to do at UWRF17… Should be easy, right?
Who do you hope will be in the audience?
You! Whoever is reading this! Come to the festival. Be inspired, meet people, try your hand at new things, laugh and cry and learn.
And children! I’m looking forward to meeting you all… I want to hear your ideas, laugh at your jokes, weave stories from your suggestions. Make sure you come up and say hello.
What’s the most extraordinary place your career has taken you?
I’ve worked as science circus performer in rural South Africa, an editor at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s particle physics laboratory in Switzerland, an English teacher in Japan, an IT blogger in the UK, and a garbage analyst in my hometown in Australia. This last job was pretty extraordinary.
My friend and I had to wake up super early, jump in our truck, and race up and down the streets to collect people’s rubbish bins before the rubbish trucks collected them first. Then we went back to the sorting yard to analyse what was in each bin. The aim of the project was to work out whether gardening waste could be recycled into mulch. It was a pretty (very) stinky job. But when you’re a writer, every experience is recycled into a story…
What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve received, and what’s the best you can give?
The best creative advice I’ve received: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. The most fun way I’ve found to do this is to read loads and loads of all sorts of books. And to write my own stories. Loads of them. Even when I think they’re awful (which I often do). My hottest tip when it comes to writing: It’s easy to procrastinate, so instead, tell yourself you’re going to write for ten minutes each day. If you end up writing for longer, great!
The best creative advice I can give: Turn off your TV. Or unplug it. Or turn it around to face the wall, so only dust mites and insomniac spiders can watch it. TV is addictive, but it’s not particularly great for achieving things. Add up how many hours you spend each week watching TV, and think what you could do instead…
What are you most looking forward to at UWRF17?
Meeting people and hearing their stories. Bring it on, Ubud! I’m ready to be inspired!
Cristy Burne is appearing in the Main Program panel session Young at Heart, on Sunday 29 October. She is also conducting a free Children & Youth Workshop, Fantastical Facts.