If you live near Melbourne, why not visit the 2014 Williamstown Literary Festival 31st May – 1st June? I will be there, along with my brand new release Billabong Bend which I’m excited to say has gone into reprint before it’s even been released!
This year the festival looks at books, stories and ideas around a sense of place. The theme picks up ideas of local community, landscape and our attachment to home. It will explore our collective memory and myths around ANZAC and Eureka, the role and place of women writers in history and politics, the modern memoir and the fantastical realms of science fiction and gothic horror. Places in the heart will be played out through love poems, a new romantic movement (courtesy of me and my mates!) and creating family legacies via love-laden cook books. The festival boasts a stellar line-up including funny men Sean Micallef and Greg Fleet, comedian and writer Jean Kittson, demographer Bernard Salt and The New Romantics of course!
The New Romantics (a panel consisting of me and three of my author friends) will present a literary discussion of Places In The Heart. We’ll talk about the many facets of love and the important place romance holds in our hearts and in the literary landscape. We’ll talk about power and gender balance in romance, changing tropes of women in romantic fiction and the inspiration for our diverse work. My fellow panel members are:
• Kathryn Ledson – suspense/thriller romance; author of the Erica Jewell series; Rough Diamond and recently released Monkey Business (Penguin)
• Margareta Osborn – rural romance; author of Bella’s Run, Hope’s Road and recently released Mountain Ash (Random House)
• Kate Belle – contemporary women’s fiction/erotic love stories; author of The Yearning andBeing Jade to be released in June (Simon & Schuster)
(Can you believe that we’ve all been members of the same writing group for years?)
We’d love to see you there! While many of the events on the program are ticketed, there are also free events such as the People’s Choice Awards for prose and poetry, a festival tradition where local writers read their works and the audience votes for a favourite. The festival hub in the newly restored Williamstown Town Hall Ballroom includes a children’s reading area and there’ll also be author signings and book sales. The Willy Lit Fest runs from May 31 to June 1 at the Williamstown Town Hall and Williamstown Library. For program details go to willylitfest.org.au or phone 9932 4074.
Are you a shy person? I am. I don’t like small talk, or parties or crowds, or my mobile phone. I do like time alone in the bush, working with horses and dogs, writing, reading … it doesn’t really matter. When I’m alone I’m at peace. One simple way to diagnose yourself is to take a free Myer Briggs personality test. I’m an INFJ which is apparently common among writers.
Introversion generally suits a writer’s life except in one respect – public speaking. These days part of an author’s platform includes giving talks: at launches, libraries, book stores, etc. I’m even a member of a terrific group called The New Romantics, four authors (including Kathryn Ledson, Kate Belle and Margareta Osborn) who present panel discussions on different aspects of writing and reading at writer’s festivals. This sort of thing does not come naturally to a shy person, or so I thought until I read Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and other Introverts by Joanna Penn.
Joanna Penn Speaking
What a marvellous book! Joanna is an author, international speaker and entrepreneur based in London, England. She was voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. She is also an introvert. The premise of her book is that public speaking is not an act of extroversion – shy people can excel at it too. When Joanna first started speaking, she developed a stage persona, a kind of ‘extroverted shell.’ But putting on an appearance cost her in energy, authenticity and even health. It was only when she embraced her introversion that she found her true voice as a speaker. Her handbook covers psychological aspects, as well as practical things like preparing and giving a speech, all from the perspective of an inherently shy person. She also gives a disarming personal account of how she increased her own confidence and learned to cope with nerves. I wish I’d had this book years ago! Her website The Creative Penn has lots of resources for writers as well.
L-R Kate Belle, Me, Jan Bull, Kathryn Ledson and Margareta Osborn
I’ve joined forces with authors Kate Belle, Kathryn Ledson and Margareta Osborn to form a panel called The New Romantics. Together we present a fresh and modern take on Aussie love stories. Though none of us write traditional ‘romance’, we all have strong romantic elements in our books.
Yesterday was our very first gig. It was in celebration of National Bookshop Day, and we were warmly welcomed and entertained by the gorgeous people of Foster and South Gippsland. Many thanks to Jan and Bob of Foster’s Little Bookshop, for organising and hosting the event!
I talked about how a modern romance may be all about passion, but it’s not just about the passion between two people falling in love. The medieval concept of romance always involved some sort of a quest, and so does a modern love story – it is a character’s search for herself. I also talked about how my passion for the environment is channelled into my stories.
Margareta (author of Bella’s Run and Hope’s Road) talked about her own, marvellous brand of rural fiction. As a fifth-generation farmer, her ties to the land are very strong and her books convey a sense of place, community and belonging. Kathryn (author of Rough Diamond) gave us her hilarious take on romantic comedy. Kate (author of The Yearning) discussed whether or not that happy-ever-after ending is an essential element of a modern romance novel, and much, much more.
All in all it was a fabulous day, and an encouraging beginning to our life together as an author panel. We are available for events and festivals! Contact the lovely Kate Belle (ecstasyfiles at gmail dot com), who has become our de facto organiser. I look forward to many more stimulating authorly discussions and would love for you all to join us sometime in the future!