Katherine the Great … ILF visit! By David Lawrence
Leaving wintry Melbourne in early June to visit sunny Katherine in the Northern Territory always seemed like a pretty good idea, but this trip was particularly special.
Thanks to the ILF, the Hawthorn Football Club, Hachette Publishing and the Clontarf Academy, I had the wonderful opportunity to mentor a group of budding young indigenous authors.
The aim of this ambitious project is for boys from the Clontarf Academy at Katherine High School, to write three books over three years that follow the fortunes of a young local footballer, in his quest to become an AFL star.
As always, I learnt more from this experience than any of the students. Their imagination and wickedly clever ideas for the first book of this trilogy completely blew me away!
Being cooped up in a classroom for several days with an author they’d never met was a huge ask, but these kids pushed through to develop colourful characters, brainstorm a brilliant storyline, and then flesh out and write ten cracking chapters.
The result is an amazing story called, ‘Damo Makes his Mark’, featuring action-packed football scenes, and the fascinating transformation of the book’s central character.
It was a joy to witness the striking improvement in the boys’ writing skills in such a short period of time. It definitely helped that the topic of the story was something they were all incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about: footy!
The seven students did a fantastic job to set up this exciting series, which will encourage even more boys to put their hand up to be involved with Book Two next year.
On the last day I asked the group what was the best thing about the week. A hand immediately shot up in the air. “Now I know I can write a big book!”
That answer perfectly summed up just why these ILF programs and partnerships are so important.
P.S. A huge thankyou to the ILF’s Program Coordinator Cindy Manfong and her kind and generous family for all their hospitality during the week!
‘Damo Makes his Mark’, featuring the fun-filled cartoons of illustrator Jo Gill will be launched on August 5 at the Hawthorn Football Club.
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