Inviting Brad Borkan to be our keynote speaker was a masterstroke. Not only was his talk, Lessons Learned from the Early Antarctic Explorers, both fascinating and inspiring, he also gave an entertaining speech as part of the opening ceremony. Thanks to Brad for allowing us to reproduce it below. (The speech remains his copyright.)
“Books stimulate our brain, enliven our conversations, and enrich our soul”
Brad Borkan, keynote speaker for this year’s Festival
It is a great honour to be here today. There is such an incredible array of talented authors and wonderful books here that it promises to be a fun and highly memorable event.
Special thanks to Debbie Young and her team who have brought this all together.
To prepare for coming here today, I read some of the books on display here. I read Debbie’s book Best Murder in Show, about a murder that takes place in a village surprisingly like this one. Debbie assures me that I will get out of here alive.
Currently I’m reading Wendy Jones’ wonderful book, Killer’s Crew, about a murder in Dundee.
Last night I had dinner with two other great crime and murder writers: David Penny and Rachel Amphlett. Seems like there is a theme running through this of murder.
You’ll be pleased to know that my talk today about the early Antarctic explorers has no murders in it. In fact, it is the absence of murders, sabotage, mayhem or even fistfights, among the men during multi-year Antarctic expeditions where survival took place in the most extreme and dangerous conditions, that makes the stories I will tell so remarkable.
There are books of many genres on display. There is easily a year’s worth of reading here. Maybe two years.
Why is reading important?
Well, I grew up in America, and have lived in the UK for the past 25 years. In January 2019 I received UK citizenship so now I have a foot in both countries, and for me, reading is a great escape from the politics in the US and UK. It doesn’t matter what side of any debate you are on, reading is great escape from the turmoil. Or, if you enjoy the turmoil, then reading is a great way to learn more about the present situation.
Books transport you. They can transport you back to historical times like the books of David Penny or my book about early Antarctic exploration. They can focus on the present, and they can transport you 10, 20 even 50 years into the future as some of the books on display here do.
But reading is different than television and film. And I love TV and I love films, but what is remarkable about reading a book is each person has their own unique interpretation of what they are reading.
Books stimulate our brain, enliven our conversations, and enrich our soul. They do this in a way that films and television cannot.
I’m sure you’ve all seen Star Wars movies. If I said to you, “3CPO – the gold-plated robot,” you would all conjure up in your mind what 3CPO looks like and you would all have the exact same image. But if none of us had ever seen a Star Wars movie and we read about it in a book, we would each have a different view of what 3CPO looked like – influenced by our own experiences and imagination.
Books also transport us across continents. There are books here set in New Zealand, the US, Canada, Europe, Africa, even Antarctica, and they enable you to experience the world without ever leaving the comfort of Hawkesbury Upton.
Books also make great gifts. Right here you can buy books as presents for birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day coming up in June, and Christmas. Everyone enjoys receiving books, and especially ones signed by the author, and endorsed specifically for your friend or relative. When November and December come around, and everyone is scrambling to buy Christmas presents, you can sit back, relax and say, “I did all my Christmas shopping in April, at the Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival”.
Lastly, I’d encourage all of you to chat to the authors. Every author I know loves talking with readers. As authors, we are great readers ourselves. The initial motivation for an author to start writing is, having read many books, thinking, “I can do better,” or “I see a gap in the market,” or “I have a story to tell that no one else can write.” Engage the authors and engage each other. Make new friends.
Brad Borkan with Debbie Young, Festival Director (Photo by Angela Fitch Photography)
And if you had dreams of writing your own book, talk with us. All authors love to talk about the writing and publishing process and are happy to share their experiences and knowledge.
I’d just like to wrap by saying it is absolutely thrilling to be here. Special thanks again to Debbie Young and her team for bringing this wonderful event together.
I’d like to now declare the 2019 Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival is officially open.
And here’s what Brad said after the event:
HULF was incredible. You assembled a truly remarkable wealth of writing talent and friendly people. Speaking at it is one of the highlights of my author career that I will always cherish. Thank you for inviting me.
“A remarkable book” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes
For more information about Brad Borkan’s book, co-authored with David Hirzel, When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic, visit his website: www.extreme-decisions.com. You’ll find him on Twitter at @PolarDecisions.