Every year I become very excited reading through the program for the Brisbane Writers Festival.This year was no exception.With the theme – What The World Needs Now- this year’s festival brought writers from all corners of the globe to share their stories.
It was probably my most diverse year at the Festival. I attended some featured events, several workshops and even enjoyed an author talk at my local library.The Festival always provides readers and writers the chance to rub shoulders with and glean tips from favourite authors, find out about the latest hot reads and mingle with like minded bookish souls.This year I was accompanied by fellow writer and SheSociety Columnist – Nanny Babe- who was heading to the Festival for the first time. After witnessing her excitement I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Here are some of my highlights:
1. It was hard to top my first event – dinner with Lauren Weisberg, author of ‘ The Devil Wears Prada’ at a bespoke and intimate event held at Gerard’s restaurant. The evening began with guests mingling in the courtyard enjoying champagne and canapes. After being seated we enjoyed an amazing 3 course meal with matched wines whilst listening to the lovely Lauren’s entertaining and glamorous stories about working for Vogue, moving to an affluent suburb with her family and writing bestsellers. She was an engaging and lively speaker who was interviewed by Brisbane’s own Marie Louise Theile.
Her latest novel ‘ When Life Gives You Lululemons’ tells the story of Emily from the ‘ Devil Wears Prada’ and is set in Greenwich full of gym clad Mums, plastic surgery stories and glamorous parties. It is a story of friendship between three friends and the ups and downs of their lives. I felt as though I was chatting with old friends as I read this book. It was entertaining, sexy and laugh- out- loud funny. A great summer beach read!
2. Although I don’t read a lot of fantasy I won tickets to see best-selling author Veronica Roth in conversation with Brisbane’s Queen of Fantasy – Kim Wilkins. I took my youngest son who has loved all the Insurgent and Divergent movies. It was a great atmosphere with many in the audience dressed as their favourite characters. Veronica spoke about the dystopian worlds she creates, her writing process, her love of Harry Potter and her latest novel ‘ Carve The Mark’. Although Veronica explained that she is quite shy and suffers from anxiety she was a really relaxed and interesting speaker and we both enjoyed this conversation immensely.
3. Sitting in the sunny SEQ gallery listening to a conversation between Ashley Hay and Kristian Olsson was a delightful way to spend the morning. Ashley’s novel ‘ A Hundred Small Lessons’ is a treasure which explores the links between home and belonging and is set right here in Brisbane. Kristina’s book ‘Shell’ is set in Sydney and tells of the building of the Sydney Opera House in the time of conscription for the Vietnam War. Both authors discussed themes in their writing, honing their craft and the importance of setting. A gentle, flowing session between friends.
4. I was also so pleased to finally meet my Instagram friend Kelly Rimmer who was in conversation with Bec Mac and musician Sally Seltmann. Kelly’s beautiful book ‘Before I Let You Go’ is the story of two sisters and the love they share. Two sisters, one baby and an impossible choice to be made are at the heart of this moving page turner. I loved this story and look forward to reading her next novel ‘ The Things We Cannot Say’. Sally Seltmann’s ‘ Lovesome’ is about Joni Johnson who loves her life until a friend comes to stay and makes her feel more than lacklustre. Set in 1995 the book takes a gentle and nostalgic look at this era.
5. A favourite session featuring a favourite author was found at my local Ashgrove Library, where Dervla McTiernan told us about her sensational debut crime novel ‘ The Ruin’. Dervla is still so genuinely excited about the success of the book that she was a joy to meet. She explained that she wrote the book at night after moving to Australia. Her riveting story is set in Ireland where detective Cormac Reilly is involved with the case of Jack and Maud, who are found in a rotting house with their dead mother. I could not put this book down and it was a joy to hear Dervla’s path to publication which was as interesting as one of her stories.
Other books generating buzz at the festival were A.J. Finn’s thriller ‘ The Woman in the Window’, Trent Dalton’s novel ‘ Boy Swallows Universe’, Bri Lee’s memoir ‘ Eggshell Skull’ and Kelly Doust’s historical romantic mystery ‘Dressing The Dearloves’.
After seeing such an exciting program this year I can’t wait to meet and learn from other amazing authors next year. These are just some of my favourite moments and isn’t that what the world needs now, more books and wonderful stories to help us make sense of and sometimes escape from our daily life. Watch out for my interview with writer Ruth Greening on her favourite Writers Festival experiences on my podcast –Buzzing About Books. Happy Reading!