My lack of sense of direction came to the fore again yesterday, when I went to Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for a one-on-one session with a published Young Adult author. The Centre is housed inside the high walls of what used to be Fremantle Prison. I knew where that was well enough (and before you think it, no, I was never an inmate), so I arrived in plenty of time and parked up the hill. On the walk down, I crossed over into the shade, thinking that I’d be sure to see any sign for the Centre, even from across the road.
At the bottom of the road, I was stumped. It was on this road. I had the map. But here I was at the end of the road and no sign of it. So I asked a postman. Postmen deliver envelopes with addresses on. They must know where things are, right? Wrong. He sent me up a flight of steps and along the road to the south. I passed the Chaplain’s office, the gates of the Prison Museum and finally came to a sign forbidding me to go any further. So I went into the Prison and asked there. Sure enough, I’d passed the Centre at the top of the hill, only a hundred metres from where I'd parked.
I trudged back up the road, cursing the heat and useless postmen. When I found the Centre at last, I wasn’t surprised that I’d missed it. There was a wooden door, locked and barred and a six inch square sign above an intercom. I had to announce myself before I was let in. What an exciting way for kids to enter a place like that!
I’m glad to report that the search was well worth it. The author, a lovely lady who has eight teenage books in print, had read the first chapter of my YA fantasy beforehand and absolutely covered it in red pen. I must admit, that was a bit daunting, but she ever-so-gently took me through it, like a nurse treating wounds. She wasn’t effusive about that first chapter, but she liked it well enough, felt it had promise, and her suggestions were excellent. Then she asked me to tell her the rest of the story. I’ve never done that verbally before and felt as if I was gabbling, but she was very encouraging. I came away knowing that I had a lot of work to do, but feeling that it might just be worth it. Definitely an hour well spent (or five hours well spent if you count the trip there and back).
And I even managed to get back to the car without getting lost!