Sunday, 31 August 2014

Independent Publishing: Where Next?

By Emily Tatti

When I studied creative writing, my teachers all said the same thing: given the choice, they would prefer to sign with an independent publisher, even if it wasn’t the most lucrative option. Why?

An Audience with Sir Salman Rushdie

By Jacqueline Lademann

In October this year Sir Salman Rushdie will be awarded the Pen Pinter Prize, given each year to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world, and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

Masterclass: Writing Wicked Characters

By Caroline Petit

Alissa Nutting is a charming American writer whose debut novel Tampa tells the story of 26-year-old Celeste Price, a beautiful wicked teacher who seduces one of her grade eight boys. Tampa is funny, provocative and wonderfully written, breaking all the rules about what women should be writing.

Pathways to Publication

By Liz McShane

Trying to crack the writing industry, but don’t know where to start? 'Pathways to Publication' was crammed with advice for writers on the make. Chaired by Mary Masters, General Manager of the Small Press Network and chair of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the session was divided into three parts: meet the critics, meet the editors and meet the publishers. Here are a few highlights from the session.

Sian Prior: Shy

By Diana Gaba

In this session Sian Prior explored the complexity of shyness. We the audience were given a chance to delve into her reality and by the time it all wrapped up, we felt like we'd made a new friend.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Philip Hensher in Conversation

By Paul C Cumming

Those who favour pink ink are dancers, those who favour blue and black ink are serious thinkers and if you're using green, you're a lady novelist.

Modern Spying

By Calum Davies

‘If there were an invisible cat in that chair, that chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.’

Caravan Conversations

By Carol Maurici

Was this something I would normally do? NO! A caravan….?
In the middle of the city…...?
In the middle of the day……?
In the middle of my life……?


Sonya Hartnett in Conversation

By Melissa Manning

The room is packed. On stage sit Jo Case, author of Boomer and Me and Sonya Hartnett. Case offers an abridged version of Hartnett’s successes and awards - the complete version would take too long. From here an easy conversation begins; audience members laugh along with those on stage. It's inclusive rather than voyeuristic - the perfect tone for a conversation with the author of Golden Boys.

Philip Heshner: Handwriting

By Tenaya Laird

The eccentric, funny and distinctly English Philip Hensher stepped on stage. Immediately the crowd of (seemingly) older women roared their approval. His humour spans generations. This session, on the topic of handwriting, had me feeling a little apprehensive: how could one man spend an hour discussing handwriting? But Hensher did it, and he made it interesting too!

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Rise and Fall of Labor

By Peter Dewar

Paul Kelly and Greg Combet suggest modern day political machinery is in need of repair. And lost is the art of government ...

Maria Popova: Brain Pickings

By Camha Pham

Creator of successful blog, 'Brain Pickings', Maria Popova is an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large. In conversation with Esther Anatolitis, we discover the workings of the brain behind the blog.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Joan London: In Conversation

By Imbi Neeme

I have to confess: it’s been well over a year since I last read a book. It’s a pretty hard thing for someone who presents herself as a lover of literature to admit, but it’s true. If I had to give a note from mother at this point it would say “Please excuse Imbi from reading any books. She has been far too busy pretending to write her own book to spend any time reading anyone else’s.”

Talking Points: The Political Party Machine

By Danae Bosler

During last year’s federal election campaign, I was (an unpaid) part of the political party machine that Stephen Mills writes about in his new book, The Professionals: Strategy, Money and the Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Burial Rites: In Conversation with Hannah Kent

By Kamini Navin 

Burial Rites is a book I found hard to put down. It allowed me to escape into a passionate world of solitude, imagination and regret. I became obsessed, making the book my companion while travelling to work, at play and even in bed. I found it very hard to return to the real world after I had finished. So you can only imagine my joy when I was slated to review Hannah Kent’s session at MWF14.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Gabrielle Wang: Inspiration for Writing Workshop

By Nadine Cranenburgh

When I was young (and even now, to be honest) the mere hint that my parents had a love life sent me scurrying for cover, hands over ears. For similar reasons, Gabrielle Wang says her young adult novel Little Paradise, based on her parents’ love story, was the most difficult book she’s ever written.

Do you remember the first time?

By Camha Pham

Brave and daring souls Isobelle Carmody, Leanne Hall, Will Kostakis, Michael Pryor and Penny Tangey ventured into the uncharted realm of ‘firsts’, taking the audience with them on an unpredictable adventure filled with laughs and deep nostalgia.

It’s terrifying but I’m going to do it anyway...

Simon Copland dives in to Saturday night drinks with strangers at the MWF and emerges inspired and unscathed!

Onboard Book Club

By Liz Lipski

I think by the time I’d garnered a Masters, I knew how to unpack a statement. So, at the pre-festival booze and schmooze when told, ‘Liz, you are reviewing the Onboard Book Club,’ I was quite excited.

Can’t be too hard. . .

Looking forward to Sonya Hartnett

Melissa Manning considers the broad appeal of Sonya Hartnett’s writing and looks forward to hearing her speak to Jo Case about her latest novel: Golden Boys.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Tony Birch: In Conversation

By William Schack

Usually when I'm sitting in a cinema on a Sunday afternoon I'm wolfing down a choctop or munching on popcorn, but today at ACMI I'm here to engage in a thoughtful and illuminating intellectual discussion between Arnold Zable, writer, and today’s subject, Tony Birch, writer, historian and teacher.

How to Break into Romance

By Sasky Stewart

Do you know your HEA from your GMC? Your protagonist from your antagonist? Or exactly when it's appropriate for your characters to get down and dirty (the answer is not too soon)? If you don't, "How to Break into Romance" will help you fill in the blanks. 

Mothers Grimm: Danielle Wood and Cassandra Golds talk with Jo Case about the enduring influence of fairy tales.

By Magdalena McGuire

My favourite book, when I was a child, was a hardcover edition of Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm. It was the thickest book we had in the house, and in between its pages were hibiscus and frangipani flowers that had been pressed flat by stories of love and violence, betrayal and redemption.

Shakespeare's Secret: So long lives this…

By Jane Seeber

You’d expect a writer’s festival audience attending “Shakespeare’s Secret” to enjoy the promised ‘songs, sonnets and soliloquies’, and you’d be right. The real joy was in the performers, though, and it was their revelling in Shakespeare that lifted this night. That, and the rock and roll. . .

Exhibition: Bookends - pics

Marina Solomon takes us on a poetic journey through this exhibition of first and last lines, lost lines, drawings, prints and animations, sharing her impressions and thought with us as she does so.

Talking Points: Emily Nussbaum on how TV got great

By Julie Marlow

Emily Nussbaum is the fast talking, smart and seriously influential TV critic for The New Yorker.  She's often asked how she landed that dream job and the answer is: Buffy.  The Vampire Slayer was the show that got her talking, discussing and analysing American television as an art form at a time of momentous change in that medium.

Sound is the New Story

By Lee Kindler

While the emergence of TV as an art form has been widely celebrated, its daggy uncle—the wireless—has been experiencing a quiet renaissance of its own. Panellists Benjamen Walker (Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything) Jessie Borrelle (Paper Radio) and Miyuki Jokiranta (Radio National) are at the forefront of this golden era of radio.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Words and War Black Digger Pics

By Erica Myers-Davis

Professor Bruce Scates, eminent historian and brother of Bob Scates who went to jail rather than be conscripted to serve in the Vietnam War, hosted this fascinating discussion with Wesley Enoch, a proud Noonuccal Nuugi man, and the director of Tom Wright's critically acclaimed play, Black Diggers.

Winds of Change: Sophie Cunningham on Cyclone Tracy

By Jacqueline Lademann

Forgive the cheesy title, but I felt there was no other way to introduce a discussion about this great storm which brought about so much change in so many unexpected ways. In Sophie Cunningham's new book, Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy, much is made of the impact that Cyclone Tracy has had, and the lessons that have been, and are still to be learned from it.

Limits of Storytelling

By Radhika Chhotai Kotecha

One of the first events at this year's Melbourne Writer’s Festival was ‘Limits of storytelling’, a talk between Melbourne writers Maria Tumarkin and Wayne Macauley discussing whether storytelling takes us closer to the truth of our lives or further away.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Seeking Asylum: Mark Isaacs, Pamela Curr and Baqir Khan in Conversation with Peter Mares

By Cassandra Chilcott

Australia’s perception of those seeking asylum has been shaped via the scrounging of votes in political elections and the filtering of information through the media. Access to the places where asylum keepers are kept, such as the notorious Nauru detention centre, is near impossible to gain; the conditions of the centre kept secret from all, except those inside.

Book Passage: Travel Writing Masterclass with Don George


By Octavia Spartels

According to Don George, “passion connection” is a condensed expression of a journey compressed into one or two words. Emerging from our five hour intensive masterclass, "cathartic" is the only word that sums up the journey we have just undertaken. George's warmth enveloped our session illuminating the subtle, serendipitous nature of travel writing better than even the most unseasonably bright Melbourne day could.  He didn't miss a beat. Pretty good for a guy fresh off the red eye from San Francisco.

What I learned About Love From Reading

By Chloe Watson

Love as aspirations… as perversions… as friendships.

American novelist Meg Wolitzer and newly published Australian writer Emily Bitto hit a few soft spots in their discussion: What I Learned About Love From Reading.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Words That Heal

By Erin Reeve

Self-help books get a pretty bad rap. I know I feel pretty sheepish when looking through the self-help section of my local book shop, checking over my shoulder to make sure nobody I know can see me. So it was with a sense of trepidation that I went along to Books That Heal at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Was it going to be a bunch of lonely people looking for the secret to finding happiness?

AIDS is Dead! Long Live HIV!

By Simon Copland

Is AIDS dead? Could we ever ‘end HIV’?
Facilitated by writer Dion Kagan, and featuring long-term AIDS activist Colin Batrouney and epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani, these were the questions addressed in the provocatively titled session ‘AIDs is Dead! Long Live HIV!’.

But what do these questions actually mean?

Opening Night: Helen Garner in conversation with Ramona Koval

By Christine Croyden

The adage that one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story is once again turned on its head by Helen Garner in her new book The House of Grief, where she painstakingly gets to the truth and in doing so creates a very good story.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

To all the Books I've Loved Before

Sasky Stewart dishes the dirt on her love for romance novels and her burning desire to pen her own . . .

What: Seminar: Breaking into Romance

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wicked pleasures

Caroline Petit revisits some of literature's darker characters ahead of attending what promises to be a most gruesome, disturbing and surely very entertaining masterclass.

What: Masterclass: Writing Wicked Characters

Friday, 15 August 2014

Pre-event workshop

Successful applicants to 'Reviewer for a Day' are reminded to attend a pre-event workshop with Melbourne Writers Festival Director, Lisa Dempster: 

Wednesday August 20
6.00 - 7.30pm
Victoria University, City Flinders campus
Level 9 Rm 9.15, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne

Friday, 1 August 2014

Reviewer for a day: We want you write now!

John Weldon, VU lecturer in Professional and Creative Writing, is coordinating an MWF blogging project that gives aspiring writers the opportunity to become a reviewer for a day.

Aspiring writers, journalists, literary types, hacks, bloggers, vloggers, poets will review festival events and be will published online by VU.