Archive for September, 2010

hourly rate

I worked my way through the days alone. My friend had secured a position on the grape vines, so I was left to work the rows by myself, endless oranges, thorns, pastel pink spiders, pesticide-on-the-wind. My body started giving out. I was getting less oranges in the bins every day (earning less money) and removing the aching stiffness from my shoulders required nearly an hour in the shower. One night I told him I was leaving. I said this type of work wasn’t for me. I said I thought I was suited to work that exercised my mind.

I could barely carry all my stuff but I managed to get it to the outskirts of Hilston. I sat there with a cardboard sign. It was getting dark. I figured I could always go back into town. But as I was contemplating this two young guys in a ute approached and stopped. Jovial guys in Akubras. We’re not going to Griffith mate they told me, but if it gets dark we’ll come out and give you a lift back to the pub. One of them gave me a beer. As they left I saw a car that had passed in the meantime stop, and return towards me. This driver was also somewhat jovial. I thought they were picking you up he said. Hop in.

He told me he had pioneered a fishing competition in Hilston. He said it was a landmark thing, an event that brought in tourists, tourist dollars. He said now the event had been taken over by other parties and was being run into the ground. He said the locals were never even grateful to him for all that he had done. I thought and said yes, you’d think they would be grateful.

He took me all the way to Griffith. It was a reasonable hitchhiking gamble – there is nothing between Hilston and Griffith. I thanked him, went to a phone box and bought a bus ticket to Wagga. It was 8pm and the bus would pass through at 2am. I hid all my gear near an industrial bin behind the service station. I went and bought a big mac. Then, I sat on the public bench near the service station, and waited for the bus to arrive. I began reading Dante’s Inferno. I imagined things would be different when I got home.

Festival Finale – Book Club with Jason Steger and Cate Kennedy

I uploaded the last blog post and didn’t even have time to check it before racing off to the final event of the festival (apostrophes on the festival dinner post are now in the right place…) This weekend has been a whirl. I’m back in Wagga now, but my mind is still buzzing with thoughts about the final event, the book club style conversation with Jason Steger and Cate Kennedy.

This event was easily one of the most well attended of the festival, and I don’t think the audience was disappointed. The mood was nicely intimate, and it did feel as if we were listening in on a relaxed chat between Steger and Kennedy. All that was missing was a fireplace, and a glass of sherry.

They began by discussing Kennedy’s writing in general – how she came to writing, when she began taking it seriously – and a focus on storytelling then seemed to naturally develop. Cate claims this is what she is most interested in all her writing (and she’s written in many forms – poetry, short stories, a novel, even songs). She says it comes from her family, and an upbringing where you would ‘stand or fall, based on how well you could tell a story around that table.’ The focus on storytelling is interesting, because it makes you think of the crafting of a narrative, and this is questioned later on. Is the ‘story’ really most appealing part of Cate’s book The World Beneath?

Steger’s questions bring a really good measured pace to the event, even though we know the talk must move to talk of the novel in question. Following a question regarding what ‘spirit’ Kennedy writes in, she eventually gives us this: ‘To be a writer you must have empathy, and a really good memory.’ I like this. It feels quotable too. I tweet it straight away. Interestingly, despite her somewhat conservative approach to engaging with online writing, Kennedy presents as a very open and thoughtful author.

Before moving to The World Beneath Steger asks Kennedy about her short stories (I have heard much praise of her ability with the form – and she is of course Black Inc’s selected editor for the Best Australian Short Stories 2010). The best analogy she gives is one of looking through a door, but only getting a short glimpse before it closes. Everything has to be perfect if you are to get a sense of what’s inside. The door always closes quickly. Analogies that help with crafting are useful, sometimes, to a certain extent. This is one I wonder if I will think of in the future. Perhaps on one of those rare occasions I am putting together one of my own short stories.

And then a segue into the realm of the ‘Book of the Festival’. (‘A short story is like spinning a plate. A novel is like spinning ten plates.’) I have read the book. I have read and really liked the book. The World Beneath is a novel that enters the lives of a separated couple and their fifteen year old daughter. The failings of all three are laid bare as the novel unfolds. And, as Cate tells us, ‘everyone in the book has this experience of having their world view knocked sideways’.

I don’t want to reveal everything about the book, but it is enough to say I admired it on a number of levels. The narrative pull is strong: I was quickly turning pages as the tension mounts toward the end, needing to know how it would turn out. But then there are other elements. An audience questioner raised the idea that perhaps it wasn’t the storytelling so much that is the best part of the novel, but the way other things ‘unfold’, the way the characters continually unfold as the work itself does.

Cate was very generous with her answers, and at all points willing to reveal all she could about the process of writing the book (interestingly, again a good editor was placed as being pivotal). Jason Steger directed the flow of conversation perfectly. Thinking about The World Beneath was the best way to end the festival. It left us all having read a really well written book, and also left us a little illuminated as to how such an object is created, an important thing for writers’ festival to do.

David and I drive home. We are tired. But we talk of future writing projects. A good writers’ festival experience does this to you, it seems to open up possibilities for your own work, things you just want to keep roaming over.

Well. This brings things to a close. It’s been an intense and enjoyable blogging experience. I hope I managed to bring just a little slice of the Albury Write Around the Murray Festival to you.

Festival Dinner

Despite the wealth of writing talent at my table last night, no weapons changed hands. Yes it is a little odd, but I didn’t let that ruin what was otherwise a great night.

The dinner began with canapes out under the marquee, and a special introduction to Spatial Stories.

‘During the festival large-scale sound and video installations transformed the QEII Square into an art space focussed on the theme of environmental responsibility. Greg Shapley’s sound installations from debris from the Murray River, Yandell Walton’s large-scale projected video installation and Emilie Zoey Baker’s poetry especially written for the festival.  Spatial Stories also included the results of local artist David Smith’s collaboration with people and their responses to the theme. Yandell Walton’s large scale projections occurred nightly to the rear of the LibraryMuseum.’

The installations and projections were a great addition to the festival. As was Emilie, performance poet extraordinaire. Her performance before dinner was (appropriately) all about eating meat, about the way we eat meat, about the ethics of our eating habits. As EZ said, she isn’t a vegetarian, so it was an interesting approach to the issue. Her argument was for a more considered approach to meat eating, where we value the food and the production cycle, and don’t simply farm the planet to death. All done persuasively, poetically. (Oh and she kicked things off with her Aussie Legends poem (is that the right title..?) which is, always fantastic to hear her do.)

Then it was inside for the festivities. The tables were set up right there in the library, a great place for a literary dinner. The writers were spread out over the tables (I managed to be placed at a table with Nathan Curnow again… a weird déjà vu) and we immediately proceeded to engage in sparkling literary banter. We talked books, teaching, poetry, Best Aus poems etc etc… many many more intriguing topics. There was also wine, and food. Copies of Reader’s Digest were piled in the centre of each table, along with interesting page fragments from obscure sources (the image above is one of these, ably photographed by Angela Meyer).

Chris Masters’ keynote address had a different tone to his panel presentation of the previous night. He focussed on his beginnings in the Albury region, and he was quite positive about regional news networks, about the possibilities they offer, when compared to the much maligned national news bodies. Interestingly, a key figure that Masters invoked was the writer Eric Otto Schlunke, a 20th century writer who focussed his work very tightly on the Riverina region. Masters finds a lot to admire in this man’s work – actually the way he spoke of Schlunke really makes me want to find some of the writings too. Master’s address was relaxed, engaging, and quite positive, even when he was talking about the sustainability of journalism in the modern era.

So then more banter, more wine, more grave festival event analysis, until the desert arrives. This it seems was the signal for Nathan Curnow’s ‘impromptu’ poetry performance (although I did see him pacing a little nervously beforehand…) Nathan gave Cate Kennedy ‘the love’. He walked into the crowd, and performed his best love poetry for her. It was appropriate (her book is ‘book of the festival’) and, well, lovely. Lovely. Cate followed it up with her own poem. Something I’ve never seen her do, and equally lovely, and possibly even more impromptu. There was a lot of love in the room.

Things were winding down but that was the moment for mixing, and various table hopping ensued, various promises to catch up in the future, various excursions outside for cigarettes.

You’ve always got to be part of the group that ‘continues on’, that takes on the full experience. I joined Angela Meyer, Nathan Curnow, David Gilbey, Louise Southerden and Jason Steger for margaritas before bed. Lovely. Angela spilled her drink – Jason mopped it up. She tweeted about it straight away. I’m blogging about it now. We are ‘write’ around the murray.

Lifting the Lid – Andrew Rule

There is a great crowd in for this session. Andrew Rule is a senior writer for The Age. He is also, I am now aware, a true story teller. I walk into the session two minutes late, and he was already in the middle of a narrative, one that took in much of his life and many of his investigative cases. At one point he detailed having his car windscreen shattered, a vague ‘message’ from someone… And this, it turns out, was the point. Rule was preempting a question not yet asked, ‘Do you get scared, doing what you do?’ I think if I had to paraphrase his answer it would be ‘sometimes, but not enough to make me stop.’

(Since starting on a country newspaper in 1975, Andrew Rule has worked for three metropolitan newspapers and in radio and television production. Previously a feature writer with The Age’s Good Weekend magazine, he has variously co-written, edited and/or published several books, including the best-selling Underbelly true crime series, and Sex, Death and Betrayal. As a senior writer for The Age and The Sunday Age, Andrew has won a Gold Walkley, the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of The Year award (twice) and the Melbourne Press Club’s Gold Quill Award (twice). He specialises in investigative stories but has won awards for stories in sport and other areas. Andrew is one our most accomplished writers. – from The Age.)

The key line is the one emboldened above. Rule is here to talk about his role as a writer, and particularly his role as a writer of investigative journalist. When asked about his collaborative role in the Underbelly books, Rule somewhat cryptically tells us ‘well even blind musicians need a labrador…’ But it is more reasonable that the collaboration has happened organically, Rule and John Sylvester combining separate skills. Maybe one is more proficient with the writing, one more adept at the investigative groundwork? Rule does give us a clue, telling us ‘I can do grammar and punctuation and all that sort of stuff.’

I am interested in what Andrew Rule does as a writer, in what particular skills he needs to employ in his line of work, but he doesn’t talk about these things a great deal. What I surmise after a while is that part of his skill is the force of his personality. He is the guy that can spin a yarn, can create that ‘narrative arc’ that was mentioned a few times in the Sustaining News Stories panel session. Late in the session Rule tells a story he says we should ‘never ever talk about, outside this room’ (maybe he wasn’t told there was a festival blogger?) and also demonstrates how the personality can elicit information. There is a certain skill involved in negotiating with an ex-hit-man, a skill that allows you to tell the story that will get you what you need as well as not get yourself into trouble. Maybe this skill is something you either have or don’t? Rule says at one point ‘You can’t put in what God left out…’ implying that writers and investigators are born that way. But of course he also qualifies, saying that ‘you can learn the tricks’.

The troubling stories are the ones Rule is famous for. (We are told his next book will be Underbelly: The Golden Casket.) An interesting question arising from the themes of Rule’s work had to do with violence. Why is this the news, but more importantly, has Underbelly glamourised violence and criminal activity? Rule is unconvinced (though he does make it clear the television series is not anything of his doing), because he claims crime has been glamourised for thousands of years. It’s intriguing, and people will be interested. It is true. Sex and death will capture an audience’s attention. What I like then is his quoting of The Highwayman, and, especially, the putting out there of this image: ‘the moon was a ghostly galleon…’ (An English teacher tried to teach me about metaphor in highschool, using this image. It is now burned into my synapses.) I’m not sure where the discussion of violence could then go. It is a topic for a thousand sessions itself.

But unfortunately the stories have to come to an end, and it is quite a disappointment (despite my blog-tiredness) because you could listen to Andrew Rule talk about his exploits for hours. He has to catch a plane though, and ends it all in a straightforward manner: ‘No more stories!’

The New World of Publishing – panel presentation

I was very much looking forward to this panel presentation. The line up was great: Cate Kennedy, Anna Poletti, Melinda Marengo, Angela Meyer, and Barry Dorr and Jo Costello (of JoJo publishing). And of course I wasn’t disappointed (my only disappointment really was the fact that I didn’t get to ask a question. It was a good one, to be directed at Cate. I spent quite a while formulating it. I did put it to Angela later though. She agrees it was a good question.)

There was a lot said, and in order to do the discussion justice I want to report on what I think were the main ideas raised. Cate Kennedy, as you might have already guessed (especially having already read her article ‘Driven to Distraction’ published recently in Overland) outlined why she is not overly interested in online writing, particularly the writing that occurs on social media sites. She feels that since learning to read and write she has always felt herself ‘a part of a virtual community’ anyway, one of fellow readers and writers, and that that world is ‘already sustained’. To her, publishing that is based on the internet = ‘what are you doing right now what are you doing right now what are you doing right now’. And furthermore, she claims that online publishing offers ‘no firewall of editorial know-how’. Cate’s views are reasonable and often correct, but this last claim made me think (it was the substance of my never-asked-question). Such a statement ignores reputable online journals such as Cordite, Mascara, and Verity La (all with editorial controls), but also, it ignores the potential benefits of online writing. Without thinking too much about it, they are readership, and one thing a print journal cannot offer with such immediacy, participation and feedback.

These ideas were taken up by Angela Meyer, but before that Anna Poletti outlined her ideas on ‘sustainable literature’ (sustainability is (as perhaps I should have mentioned already) one of the themes of the festival). Anna is a colleague of mine from CSU, where she teaches English and creative writing. She earned her doctorate by writing about zines. As Anna told us, ‘zines are a form of publishing without editor or publisher facilitating the process’. But importantly, as I think she was getting at, zines are objects that are without doubt more valued than objects published by major presses. Anna said ‘there’s a really big problem with Dan Brown books, that Op shops are currently facing’. I guess it’s true. Mass produced books are a product people buy read and then discard. How sustainable is that? Although Anna didn’t mention it as such, online publishing is in some ways more sustainable, and, the space is infinite.

Angela Meyer has a blog. But you know this. It gets 6,500 individual page views per month. (We will not go into the stats concerning the humble typingspace…) She is therefore the perfect person to present a view opposing Cate Kennedy’s. And she does this cleverly and efficiently: ‘New ways of publishing don’t mean the death of old ways of publishing’. Her view is that there is a distinctly positive experience to be had writing in an online environment, it’s just that you need to know how to control the experience, to filter the information and connections. She tells us there are many ways to find the good material on the internet (and to contribute to it), these include the recommendations of friends, links, blogrolls, twitter links etc etc. All of this feels instinctively true to me. My online interaction has been moulded over the years. There is the distractive side, but the connective benefits outweigh this by far. You just need to be smart about it. As Angela says, ‘You can filter out the crap – not following people who talk about their cats all the time [for example]‘.

The other panelists contributed to the discussion too. Melinda Marengo outlined her love of writing and her venture into self-publishing; Barry and Jo of JoJo publishing talked about their particular publishing philosophy. All in all, it was a discussion with great range, and as is always likely to be the case, it felt as if there just wasn’t enough time to cover everything, to tease out all of the good ideas (perhaps if I had of had the opportunity to ask my question…)

A good time was had by all, and I know a number of the audience members went on to attend Angela’s blogging workshop. No doubt many will be at Anna’s zine-making workshop today (which will feature real working typewriters!)

Inside The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta

I did my best to prepare for this festival and my blogging duties. I read Chris Masters’ Jonestown. I read Cate Kennedy’s The World Beneath. But I have to now admit a failing publicly (I seem to be doing this a lot lately): I did not have the time to get to Melina Marchetta’s book, The Piper’s Son.

Accordingly I went to the Melina’s session a little unsure of what I would make of it. Will her talk rely on knowledge of the book? Will the audience ask questions beginning with ‘So in the book, when you wrote X, did you mean Y…?’

Whatever happens I think, I am still here to cover the event. And as it turns out the event is still very interesting, worthwhile. Phew.

Marchetta is an engaging speaker, and the real bonus of this session was that she spoke very specifically about writing tactics, about the construction of novels. Because as she says, when writing she is not simply letting it come out – she is ‘…constantly aware of the fact that [she is] constructing.’ I like this. I am suspicious of anyone who talks of the need to write, the act of just letting it flow, or even that it is some kind of therapy. For me it is enjoyable, but work. Constant artifice. As Melina said towards the end of the session ‘you’re constructing – there’s nothing natural about it.’

Marchetta’s latest novel is the sequel to an earlier book, Saving Francesca, but interestingly it doesn’t need to be read as a sequel. It takes a character and continues with him. Marchetta says she did however think of the time between books, and in a sense the characters have grown with the readers who first read Saving Francesca. It reminds one of the Harry Potter phenomenon… maybe.

There were two main things that struck me about Melina’s talk today. Firstly it was her honest focus on craft, putting in the hard work to make writing appear easy. There is a chance that she is lucky, blessed with a good relationship with her publishers, sure. But I suspect there’s also an attitude a writer needs to have to create such a relationship. Marchetta mentioned this a number of times. The people she works with in publishing are as exacting as she is. It leads her to say ‘I kind of like the fact that the people in my life constantly want more from me.’ It is a useful transactional process.

The other thing that stayed with me was Melina’s focus on the inner lives of men. My interest has been piqued by her discussion of this, so much so that I will be seeking out a copy of her book today. Marchetta said that one of the reasons her novel is titled The Piper’s Son is that it is as much about the father (the piper) as about the son. This relationship is pivotal. But she faced a problem in trying to represent this relationship. To present it truthfully, it was important to her not to have the two men communicating overtly. There couldn’t be a lot of dialogue where the father and son talk about what’s going on, what they’re feeling, because this would be completely unreal. Marchetta had to present ideas of a relationship, about men, and about grief, without the convenience of dialogue. I’m intrigued by this, because there seems something intuitively correct about what she was saying.

I suppose we must go and read her book… There are good reasons to do so. Melina Marchetta looves ‘writing about adults that fail a lot’, but, she also writes in order to ‘find that place where people find hope.’

Writers: on stage

I guess the stage doesn’t really matter… What we had today was a sort of marquee this morning, as such we weren’t really elevated above the audience. But this is good. Very Tony Abbott-esque. There was a second hand book sale going on too, right behind the audience seating. This was good. Everything is good.

I came up with the Writers: on stage branding last year. The Booranga Writers’ Centre received a grant from WWCC to run some performance poetry workshops. Out of this, the Booranga Spoken Word Group is formed. It consists of David Gilbey, Harata Syme, Jo Wilson-Ridley, and myself. Our aim is to work on aspects of performance, but also to get gigs, to perform alongside other experienced writers. Our first performance in Wagga earlier this year featured the amazing David Finnigan. Our second performance – it just happened, a few hours ago – was here in Albury and featured the equally amazing Nathan Curnow.

Jo Wilson-Ridley kicked things off for us Booranga folk. Her performance was assured, giving me some satisfaction that the work we’ve put in (plus the countless hours of memorising work Jo has done alone) has shown some results. Her work was as always entertaining, with a focus on domestic satire, but I’ve really noticed an increased confidence in her presentation. Hey, hard work does give some results people.

David Gilbey, ever-assured poet and raconteur (and until quite recently a senior English Lecturer at Charles Sturt University), took us on a journey to Japan with his poems. I know David has a close connection with the place, and often feels most comfortable when he can recreate the feeling of being there. His work without doubt gives a sense of this connection to the audience.

Harata Syme performed one longer piece for us today. Her work tends to focus on the pursuit of power and knowledge, the relevance of action to contemporary culture, but it is also her delivery that blows me away every time. A hip-performer as well as spoken word performer, Harata creates intensity simply (at least it seems simple), with her rhythms and tone.

I was the penultimate performer. It’s hard to assess your own performance, but hey, what the hell, I think it went okay. A public reveal is always a good thing, and so yes, I did have a couple of those ‘moments’. When you perform from memory, your worst enemy is the pause. The key is to make it feel deliberate, utilised for a reason. I think I got away with it. My last piece (if you know me, you know I am obsessed with my fictional life as a ballet dancer) went particularly well. The crescendo effect to end things. Another highlight was my daughter wandering on stage to have a little chat (while I rambled on about having a ‘microwave instead of a head’).

What needs to be said about Nathan Curnow? He is, there could be little argument, a seasoned performer. He’s been working the Melbourne scene for years. We have to give him this (even if his blogging skills leave a little to be desired…) I was particularly pleased to be able to hear Nathan do his piece inspired by Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, which he wrote for Liner Notes. We love Nathan. The crowd loves Nathan. I only hope he might do some kind of ‘impromptu’ performance  tonight at the festival dinner…

Sustaining News Stories

My brief is not overly prescriptive: blog about a set list of events. I do this in whatever way I see fit. This is good. Blogging allows and often calls for a mixture of styles, registers. I can be opinionated or digress at length if I like. I can provide links to a lot of extraneous information, if I am so inclined. Or I can keep it real.

(The event ends with Robyne naming me as festival blogger in front of the audience, and saying ‘what’s the address Derek?’ I call out ‘typingspace‘. Is this enough though? Will people google it, anxious to hear the thoughts and interpretations of this person they don’t know?)

The Sustaining News Stories panel seemed to me to be loosely based on these questions: what makes news news? What place do writers have in the process? Has journalism changed recently, or will it in the future (you know… technology)?

Chris Masters is the Murray Festival headline act. He deserves the title I guess, having had a long career in investigative journalism and having published a number of books, including the controversial Jonestown. He deserves his status even though, as he initially informs us, he is at the ‘fag end’ of his career. Masters asserts to the audience that at this time, journalism has ‘moved from being a public service, to a business.’ It is to be an ongoing discussion point. What is wrong with journalism, or, ‘the news’, today?

Masters outlines three key concepts of journalism. They are news judgement, research, and narrative. He is knowledgeable and clever. These three areas are very important. But I am still wary, in the way you always are when someone outlines what is wrong now, what was better then.

Nick McKenzie emphasises the journalist’s twin skills, research and writing. He claims the combination of both is rare. Is it? Money is the issue. It comes up. More money needs to be pumped into investigative journalism. This would perhaps create the time to write.

Scott Monk, YA novelist and subeditor for The Australian, is more optimistic. He believes ‘there will always be journalists around.’ And I think yes, but what will they be doing? This is entirely his point. Monk says that if we really want investigative journalism of a high quality, someone will have to pay for it. The issue for him is the way people are these days obtaining their news content for free. Who will pay people to write and research when this is the case? (I am positioned straight away. My news consumption is located at the newer end of the spectrum – I get my news as it happens via the journalists who tweet. I follow the links and I obtain my news – at least the majority of it – for free. I attempt to formulate a question that will revolve around this, around me, but as is often the way, I fail to do so. I keep thinking of this blog post, what I will write, etc etc.)

Di Thomas is deputy editor with the Albury local paper, The Border Mail, and despite her admitting many things are changing she remains ‘foolishly optimistic.’ Transcribing this right now, I wonder at her use of the word ‘foolishly’… She also reiterates the concern with time. Maybe it is the way with all writers, but these journalists claim they are peculiarly time-poor. Increasingly they are finding they are not allowed the time to do the meaningful journalistic work that needs to be done. It is the pressure of the online new cycle.

What’s the solution? What will the new paradigm of ‘news’ be in the near future. Perhaps solving this problem was beyond the powers of an hour long panel session. I can present to you some quotes that at least gesture at the future. This, from Chris Masters: ‘The ABC is not going to solve all of our problems [despite being well funded] if newspapers fold.’ An interesting suggestion from Scott Monk that perhaps Rupert Murdoch’s passion will be a sort of saviour for the news business, this man who has been ‘demonised for years.’ And from Nick McKenzie, in response to an audience member questioning why there is still so much ‘bad’ news on tv: ‘We get the news that we deserve.’

All in all, what I left thinking was that the writer is important. A good writer, someone who has the time to research the story and write it well, will remain a pivotal figure in the business of ‘the news’. How he or she will exist is not clear. How they will be paid, or if they will be paid, is not clear. But there will be a change of form, and even process.

Chris Masters: ‘People communicate in a lot of ways… It’s not just what people say, it’s what’s on the mantlepiece, what’s out in the backyard, what the neighbour said as you went into the house…’

Blogging the Albury Write Around the Murray Festival

Well readers, as of today I am beginning my official duties as the Albury Write Around the Murray Festival blogger. I’m here in Albury now, sitting in the hotel room, just itching to get out there tonight and start the coverage of events. But first, here’s a list of the events you can expect to find me writing about:

Sustaining News Stories: What keeps stories in the news? Award-winning journalists Chris Masters and Nick McKenzie, subeditor of The Australian and author Scott Monk, and The Border Mail deputy editor Di Thomas will talk about what makes news and what keeps it on the front page, in the headlines and getting website hits.

Writers on Stage: (I’m performing in this one, and blogging about it. Should be an interesting thing…) Award-winning Melbourne poet Nathan Curnow joins Derek Motion, David Gilbey, Harata Syme and Jo Wilson-Ridley for the second Writers on Stage performance for the year. Presented in partnership with Booranga Writers Centre, this event will feature performances of an eclectic mix of works in various poetry styles.

Inside The Piper’s Son with Melina Marchetta: The much-loved author of Looking for Alibrandi talks about her new novel, The Piper’s Son, which takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling novel Saving Francesca. It’s five years later, Thomas Mackee is 21 and he’s the one who needs saving. Find out about the research that went into the novel and why it is Thomas Mackee’s story that Melina has chosen to tell.

Panel Session – the New World of Publishing: Whether you want to go down the traditional route of finding a publisher or you want to explore new and exciting options such as blogging and zines, this is the session for you. Hear from experienced bloggers, zine makers, traditional publishers and those who’ve self published or published in a number of genres. Panel includes award-winning short story writer and novelist Cate Kennedy, also blogger Angela Meyer, and zine expert Anna Poletti.

Lifting the Lid with Co-author of the Underbelly Series, Andrew Rule: Andrew Rule has written true crime books – including the best-seller Cuckoo, a true account of murder and its detection, and the popular Underbelly series that captured the nation’s attention through the television series – for nearly 25 years. Join Andrew as he delves into the world of true crime and lifts the lid on some of Australia’s most notorious crimes and criminals.

Festival Dinner featuring a Spatial Stories performance, as well as keynote address by Chris Masters.

Festival Finale – Book Club with Jason Steger and Cate Kennedy: Join Cate Kennedy, author of The World Beneath, as Jason Steger of the ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club leads a discussion exploring the themes of the novel and how the story came together. This is an interactive discussion involving audience and author. Come and share your thoughts.Copies of The World Beneath are available for loan from the Library Museum and Lavington Library or you can purchase the book from Dymocks Booksellers Albury (receive a 10% discount if you mention the festival).

Exhaustive list, no? I shall be serving up all of the action for those of you who can’t be in the Albury area!

Will one of these fabulous writers say something profound that needs to be recorded for all time? Or will someone say something paradoxically silly and profound at the same time? Will someone stick their chewing gum on a podium – a coldly calculated move designed to get people ‘talking about you’ – or something just as equally bizarre?

We need to know these things. And this blog is your source. Stay tuned – the posts will be online as soon as possible after each event happens. I will also be tweeting (using the inimitable style of Samuel Cooney a s a model) in realtime: #murrayfest



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