Thursday, March 5, 2015

It’s almost time for the Newcastle Writers Festival 2015!

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know how much I love the Newcastle Writers Festival.  Though I’m not on the organising committee as such, I feel a little like a co-conspirator because the committee members are so fabulous and I know and like them all, and because I’ve been participating reasonably heavily in the festival since its inception.

There are many things which set the NWF, as it’s commonly known, apart from other festivals.  First and I think foremost, is that it’s not daunting.  I’ve been to a number of other festivals and sometimes you can feel, as a writer, a little overwhelmed by the big names, and by the sheer mass of people.  Sitting quietly at the back of an audience, you might even feel a bit like a fraud (classic impostor syndrome) amidst so many confident, more appropriately dressed, more eligible to be there “real writers”.  That’s not the case for the NWF. It’s welcoming, down-to-earth (as Novocastrians tend to be), and absolutely accessible.  Thanks to the director Rosemarie Milsom’s hard work and influence, we have big names at the NWF, but they seem to be huggier, more approachable, and maybe just easier to get to (crowds are a fair bit smaller than at Sydney or Adelaide for example).  There’s also a great balance of poetry (this year’s poetry program is awesome - more about that shortly), nonfiction, fiction of all genres, bloggers, self-publishers, and general literary/political chat.  Finally, there are a significant amount of free events and the prices for non-free events tend to be pretty reasonable.

If you’re a reader or writer of any sort, at any stage of your career, you’ll be welcome, and will find, not only some excellent sessions full of insight on how to improve what you’re doing and ramp it up, but also the kind of camaraderie, stimulation, and almost guilty pleasure that folks like us need (writing and reading being rather solitary pursuits most of the time).  This year, I’ll be ‘in conversation’ with superstar Garth Nix, who will be chatting with me at 10am on Sat the 22nd of March about his latest book Clariel and indeed his entire Old Kingdom series, on writing fantasy in general and a bunch more.  Plenty of time, as is always the case with my sessions, will be allowed for the audience to ask questions and join in the conversation directly.

I’ll also be reading some of my own work from the anthology A Slow Combusting Hymn, a free session titled “A Celebration of Poetry From and About the Hunter”, held on the Friday March 20th from 145 to 315pm.

But wait, there’s more.  For poetry lovers (hello), there’s an entire program page here: which includes the likes of Les Murray, Anthony Lawrence, Julie Chevalier, Jennifer Compton, David Musgrave, Beth Spencer, John Stokes, Melinda Smith, Jan Dean, Judy Johnson, Ivy Ireland, Jean Kent, and lots lots more.

The full program can be found here:

Just to get your saliva flowing, the program has the likes of Helen Garner, Michael Robotham, Jessica Rudd, Marion Halligan, Blanche D’Alpuget, Wendy James, Jaye Ford, Brooke Davis, the names go on - all involved in a hugely diverse range of sessions, including a children’s and secondary school program, throughout the 3 days of the festival.  Some of the sessions require tickets and they’re going fast, so go, have a look, join me in my excitement, and if you do decide to attend, come and say hello.  Hobnobbing with other writerly and readerly folk is definitely part of the fun.

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