Last night saw the presentation of the West Australian Young Readers Book Awards at the Playhouse in Subiaco. Gongs for the Older Readers category went to Melina Marchetta for On the Jellicoe Road (read the first line and you’ll be hooked. I love this one – strange and unexpected and profoundly moving, not to mention beautifully written) and Stephenie Meyer for Twilight, while Andy Griffiths’ Just Shocking and Andrew Lansdown’s Red Dragon took the honours for the Younger Readers.

It was a fun night, with some excellent dramatic presentations by local students and a lively buzz about books and reading. It is great to see young people with so much talent, enthusiasm and self-confidence, not to mention a capacity for the random generation of explosive sound effects and hard-hitting political questions.

On a personal note, I was thrilled to sign a book for a young reader with dyslexia whose parents told me it was his first ‘long book’. Ethan, I hope Nathan, Ronnie and Weasel are able to keep you turning those pages.

It is very easy to become disconnected from readers, sitting at home, tapping away at the kitchen table (guilty of that at this very moment!). Events like this, which are all about the readers, are an excellent way of re-grounding myself, of reminding me what it is this writing thing is all about.

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