This is an interview conducted, as part of my media course, with my awesomeness cousin, Lyndon Riggall – you can check out his blog right here.
Ben: Today we have with us an inspired and very, (very) good literature driven Australian, who has so many online blog posts, and so many online book reviews that you could be reading all night.
In 2011, he went in the Australian Poetry Slam, where he went into the finalists, and eventually the runners up. In 2012, he set off to travel 2224 kilometres, the same distance that Frodo travelled to Mordor in the Lord of the Rings series. And recently he’s been reading lots of children’s books, because he’s part of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, which requires you to read every children’s book released in the past 12 months, about 400 books. So Lyndon!
Ben: Thanks for being on the show!
Lyndon: Thank you for inviting me.
Ben: So what inspires or introduced you to literature, and what about it keeps you pursuing it?
Lyndon: I think for me it probably began… I was really lucky that I grew up in the Harry Potter generation and so when I was a kid, Harry Potter came out and I was probably in Grade 2, and I read it and it was new and exciting and of course I’d like to say that now because ah look *I was ahead of the trend.*
But I read it, and I was completely in love with it. And then as the years went by, everyone else read it and everyone else fell completely in love with it and the movies came out. And it was probably the first time… and in fact it’s still used as a benchmark for… it’s about as big as a book can get. And I think when you grow up through that it often has an effect on you, the things you grow up with… so for me…
Ben: Kind of the fact you get to watch it grow and expand.
Lyndon: Yeah that’s it, there was no convincing me that books weren’t important when you see something like that happen. So yeah.
Ben: So in the Australian Poetry Slam that you went in, in 2011, how was your experience with that? And for those that haven’t seen it, maybe you’d like to explain what your poem was about?
Lyndon: Yeah, so my poem was a little bit controversial, it was based on a true story about… it dropped into fantasy… but it was a true story about Jehovah’s Witnesses coming and door knocking on my door. And it was sort of about the attitude they have when they come to your door – because I find it a really strong and terrifying attitude, ’cause I’m not the sort of person who thinks that the world is ending… you know… and that we’re all going to die. So for me, to wake up in the morning in your dressing gown, to go to the door, and to just be immediately hit with that is a really funny experience. So I wrote about that and performed it in Launceston and eventually got to take it to Sydney… and that was really scary. I performed on the stage at the Sydney Theatre where, obviously I wasn’t in a play, but people like Jeffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett and lots of really famous Australian people have performed there – and I didn’t get to take my family with me, so I was all alone, in front of this massive Sydney audience. Which is nothing like you’d see here, but it was amazing. It was a room of thousands of people screaming and cheering over poetry… which is kind of nice.
Ben: Which audience do you think took your poem the best, the Launceston or the Sydney one?
Lyndon: I think probably the Sydney one. (The) people in Launceston are probably a bit more tentative about coming up and talking to you afterwards, and maybe it’s part of being in a small crowd, that they have people they came to the show with, that they’ll talk to them. But even as I was walking up the stairs after finishing it, people were trying to grab me and say, “My mum’s a Jehovah’s Witness and I need a copy of that poem so that I can show it to her, and she’ll find it really interesting.” And that was really exciting. Yeah, that was nice that people wanted to share that.
Ben: So quite a journey of course from Launceston to Sydney, not quite as big as your 2224 kilometre trip. On the fan forums, the Internet, it said that apparently it’s estimated that Frodo took about six months. How long did it take you on your journey?
Lyndon: Yeah, I decided to try and walk the… it’s often confusing for people so I will explain. I didn’t try to go into the wilderness and take bread wrapped up in leaves or anything like that in the Lord of the Rings books. But what I tried to do was, just to get a sense of how far that really is, how far that journey is. I started on January the 19th 2012, and I wanted to finish by the day that the Hobbit came out, which was boxing day. And so I made it… but all I had to do to keep up with that was six and a half kilometres a day. But yeah, it took me twice as long as it took them.
Ben: Do you have any plans for literature driven journeys in the future? Not necessarily exercise based.
Lyndon: I would love… on that front, I’ve had lot’s of friends say, “Can we walk around Westeros?” which is the Game of Thrones world, and I would love to work that out. But I was really lucky with the Lord of the Rings people, who have really nutted out all of those details. Tolkien inspires people to get really obsessive about tiny details, and so I was lucky that I actually had someone who had done most of the maths for me, I just had to convert it into kilometres and work out where I would have to be at each point to actually chart the whole journey of the books.
But in terms of my own literary journey, what I’m doing next, I’m trying to write a book. Which is probably much more scary than walking. Yeah, so I’ve finished a first draft but what’s interesting about books is that first drafts often aren’t anywhere near ready. So it’s still hiding from the world at the moment.
Ben: Okay, and finally your a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia… what’s it like reading 400 children’s books?
Lyndon: *Laughs* Really interesting! So what the Children’s Book Council do every year, they give, and you may have seen them, their little medallions that they put on the books. So they get a gold, if they’re considered the best of that year, across various categories. And then there are honoured books, and notable books. So I signed up and asked it I could perform that process for them, without really thinking the quantity of books you’d have to read.
I mean it’s logical that if you want to choose the best book that this country produces… you have to read every book that this country produces. And I should have thought of that. But sure enough, pretty much every two weeks, until very recently, I get about 30 books in the post, and I go through them and make notes on them and send them off – and they gradually fill up all the space underneath my bed. But it’s really hard, sometimes you get a box of picture books, and you know, it’s stories about babies and food and stuff like that and they take 5 minutes – but sometimes they are really big novels.
But one of the really good parts of the experience, is finding terrible books… and Australia produces very few really bad books, but everyone who wants to write – should read bad books. Because when you read a bad book, firstly you teach yourself what’s wrong with it, and you know, some of the books I’ve read I start to see problems and I go, “Oh, that might be a problem in the book that I’m trying to write.” And the other thing that’s really good about it is that you really get a sense that… (if a ‘bad book’ gets an award, that perhaps your book has a chance in it all.)
Ben: (Thank you) So this of course is Lyndon Riggall! You can check out his blog at lyndonriggall.com for more, maybe the rest of that sentence will come to light on the blog. Thanks so much for watching, and we’ll see you all next time.
Hope you enjoyed this painstakingly-written-out version of this interview I recorded for my media studies in school!
I just wanted to let you know that at some point I’ll be doing a major refresh of this site – as you can see it’s been a bit glitchy recently, and I think I know what I have to do to fix it. MAKE IT A BLOG AGAIN. I’m going to be getting rid of the social ‘Facebook Profile’ like area of the site because all it does is cause compatibility issues with every single theme I use it with – and I honestly don’t have the time to go through and code myself a theme right now that works. So I’m going to remove the cause – get it out of the way – and get back to a pretty stable blogging site – all ready for Vlog my Blog 2013… I mean… what?
YOU HEARD NOTHING.