Safran, John 2013 (photographer credit Germain McMicking)With the 2014 Festival Program now launched, things are really really hotting up. We just experienced the biggest week of ticket sales in our 18-year history. Some events are already close to selling out. So this Festival is shaping up to be the best yet.

Crime Sets the Scene

One of literature’s most popular genres, crime writing will feature strongly this year. This year’s Festival has attracted an impressive cast of talented, specialist crime authors.

The Festival session A Murder of Crime Writers includes #1 international bestselling US thriller writer, Karin Slaughter, former NSW Detective P.M. Newton, celebrated storyteller Tara Moss, bestselling screenwriter and debut novelist Terry Hayes and the North Coast’s own Martin Chatterton. The session will explore all aspects of creating gripping stories within this hugely popular field.

Another Festival session True Crime: Monsters or People Like Us? bringsiconoclastic US author Poe Ballantine together with Virginia Peters and Australia’s peerless exponent of gonzo film-making, author John Safran, in a session led by Marele Day.

Fabulous Feature Events

Don’t forget our brilliant line-up of 12 off-site feature events.

When filming his TV-series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi’s most notorious white supremacists. A year later, Safran heard that the man had been murdered, a tale culminating in the brilliantly innovative true-crime story Murder in Mississippi. Safran’s acclaimed live stage show will feature at the Community Centre on Festival Saturday at 6pm. Tickets to this brilliant performance are selling fast.

Join much-loved legend of Australian music, Richard Clapton in conversation with David Leser at 8pm on Festival Saturday at the Community Centre.

Enjoy the War and Remembrance Literary Dinner with iconic broadcaster and journalist, Mike Carlton and Geoff Dyer, described by the Daily Telegraph (UK) ‘As possibly the best living writing in Britain’, in conversation with Chris Hanley on Festival Friday at the Byron Beach Cafe.

Workshops

Multi-published? New to writing? Writing just a twinkle in your eye?

Where ever you are in your writing journey, we have a workshop to suit. Explore the brave new world of book publishing, turn tragedy into triumph, or delve into flash fiction, memoir, travel or crime writing and more.

We’re proud to have engaged the contribution of one of the world’s most highly regarded creative writing professors, himself an author, Robin Hemley. After nine years as Director of the prestigious Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa, Hemley has taken a new position as Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Writing Program at Yale-NUS. Robin will present at Masterclass on Writing Imaginatively About the Past on Thursday, 31 July. Book now to avoid disappointment.

The program is out, so pick up a copy and start planning your fabulous Festival experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

The 18th Byron Bay Writers Festival Program Released

‘If there’s a story to be told and if the story has some validity,

some resonance, then you don’t keep it to yourself.’

From Stories We Tell by Canadian Film Director Sarah Polley

Any Griffiths

Any Griffiths

The 18th Byron Bay Writers Festival Program is out now! Be inspired by this major literary event and its cavalcade of more than 130 writers, thinkers and creative spirits and their world of ideas over three action-packed days (1-3 August). Designed to challenge, provoke, entertain and connect, the Festival features a strong core of powerfulAustralian writers together with acclaimed international talents.

Securing celebrated UK author Jeanette Winterson, is an enormous coup for the Festival along with other international writers including Poe Ballantine, Geoff Dyer, David Finkel and Susie Orbach.

We’re not shying away from the complicated issues. Malcolm Fraser, Antony Loewenstein, Joanne McCarthy, and Kate McClymont are all attending so expect robust debate about Australia’s international relations and how we treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Blackadder NS

Jesse Blackadder

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without food events. Travel the Indian spice route with fêted chef Christine Manfield at her Literary Lunch at the Byron at Byron resort. While Saturday’s supper with substance will be dished-up by national treasures Julian Burnside and Frank Moorhouse.

See John Safran’s acclaimed live show Murder in Mississippi at the Byron Bay Community Centre. Then dust off your Ziggy Stardust outfits as one of Melbourne’s best-loved spoken word events Liner Notes comes to Byron for the first time. Performers include, among others, Andrew Denton, Missy Higgins and Benjamin Law.

Kids Big Day Out on Sunday will feature some of Australia’s favourite authors led by Andy Griffiths, with Sally Rippin, Martin Chatterton, Mem Fox, Nick Earls, Jesse Blackadder and Tristan Bancks.

If that’s not enough literary action, delve into memoir, screenwriting, travel, poetry, romance and more at festival panels and at hands-on skills development Workshops. Book now for these popular One-Day (or Half-Day) Classes and for the Festival’s associated Feature Events. Festival Passes on sale now!

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

New York Times Best-Seller M.L. Stedman and Last Chance for Early Bird Tickets

Edwina Johnson (picture by Tim Eddy)

Edwina Johnson
(picture by Tim Eddy)

Don’t think, just book!

These are the last days of Early Bird ticket sales and they are selling out fast. Now’s the time to book your discounted 3 Day Pass or Youth Pass to enjoy over 100 fabulous international and Australian literary stars.

We’re overjoyed to announce multi-award winning author M.L. Stedman will join the stellar line-up at this year’s Festival. Stedman’s novel The Light Between Oceans has been a New York Times’ best-seller for the past 60 weeks. So far it has been translated into more than 30 languages, and the Hollywood movie rights were recently snapped up by Dreamworks, with David Heyman of Harry Potter fame set to produce it. An incredible achievement for a debut novel.

9781742755717

See Stedman in conversation with Geordie Williamson, Chief Literary Critic of The Australian on Festival Friday. She’ll also participate in three other panels, including one on Lighthouses, a lovely fit for Byron Bay as this is where Tom, one of the protagonists, learns the craft of lightkeeping.On Festival Saturday, Stedman will discuss the books that have shaped her and on Sunday she’ll contribute to a panel exploring grief and loss in fiction. We anticipate this will be a compelling session. Bring those tissues.

Stedman’s hauntingly beautiful novel has won many awards in Australia, including the ABIA Book of the Year 2013 andThe Indie Award Book of the Year. If you haven’t read this book, we highly recommend it. It’s a remarkably powerful read.

So pick up your Early Bird tickets now. Sale ends this Thursday, 5 June at midnight. Don’t miss our keynote speaker Jeanette Winterson, US author Poe Ballantine, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Clare Wright, Julian Burnside, Tim Flannery, Ashley Hay, Alex Miller, Andy Griffiths and many, many more. We can’t wait to reveal the full program including the complete international line-up this Friday, 6 June.

 

Edwina Johnson, Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

Jeanette Winterson…Keynote Speaker

Edwina Johnson (picture by Tim Eddy)

Edwina Johnson
(picture by Tim Eddy)

“The rebellion of art is a daily rebellion against the state of living death routinely called real life.”

Jeanette Winterson, The Paris Review

We’re excited to announce that celebrated author Jeanette Winterson will deliver the 2014 Keynote Address at the Festival this year. Winterson is travelling to Australia in August for a tour arranged in collaboration with Sydney Opera House and Brisbane Powerhouse. Winterson will feature in several Festival sessions from 1-3 August (full program revealed on 6 June), followed by events in Brisbane and Sydney.

Jeanette Winterson with Colette at Shakespeare and Company

Jeanette Winterson with Colette at Shakespeare and Company

Jeanette Winterson OBE is one of the most acclaimed international authors of our time. Whatever the genre – novels, screenplays, essays and journalism – Winterson takes risks and challenges us to think differently about identity and relationships. The Guardian (UK) recently listed Winterson as being one of the world’s Top Ten writers to see live, ‘She walks on with such confidence and never has any barrier between herself and the audience…’ It’s an experience not to be missed.

At 15, Winterson’s teenage love affair with another woman came to light. She was condemned by her church, leading to her expulsion from the community and her decision to leave home. She worked odd jobs, from an ice-cream van driver to a funeral parlour make-up artist, supporting herself as she obtained her English B.A. from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. She would go on to write over 15 books, including the celebrated novels Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Her most recent work includes Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and the horror novella about witchcraft and superstition, The Daylight Gate.

We’re featuring more than 100 authors in the 2014 Festival. The program includes some of Australia’s best writers and thinkers from Malcolm Fraser, Clare Wright, Julian Burnside and Tim Flannery to Ashley Hay, Alex Miller, Andy Griffiths and many more. The full program including the complete international line-up will be available from 6 June 2014.

Don’t miss out on buying your Early Bird Ticket.

Edwina Johnson, Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

Festival brings Australia’s favourite environmentalists to town

Edwina Johnson (picture by Tim Eddy)

Edwina Johnson
(picture by Tim Eddy)

It’s with great pleasure we announce that Tim Flannery, the Former Head of the Australian Climate Commission and 2007 Australian of the Year and Bob Brown, the Former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens, will head up the environmental component of this year’s Writers Festival.

Tim told us: ‘in so many ways, this is the critical decade for sustainability in Australia. I look forward to being in Byron Bay with Bob Brown. Together we can outline what’s required of our country over the next six years.’

Many people will remember when Tim highlighted the passion Australians held for the environment when he and his co-Commissioners raised an impressive $1 million via crowd-funding in just five days. These funds were used to launch the Climate Council after the Climate Commission was dismantled in 2013.  It was incredible to witness so many people prepared to contribute to protect the Australian environment.

In his recent book, Among the Islands,Flannery outlines his ground-breaking work on the mammals of the south-west Pacific. His findings allowed the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to rank these mammals’ vulnerability to extinction.

We’re also delighted that Bob Brown has accepted the invitation to return to the Festival. His determination and commitment to informing Australians about threats to our environment is truly inspiring. The marquees at his 2012 Festival appearances were overflowing. Those of you who were there will remember he received standing ovations at the end of his sessions.

Bob’s visit to the Festival coincides with the launch of his new book, Optimism. In Optimism, Bob shares his stories and insights from both his public and private life, revealing the events that have made an impression, the ideas that have caught his imagination and the people that have stayed in his thoughts. We’re thrilled Byron Bay is the first stop on the Optimism book tour.

Both Tim Flannery and Bob Brown have contributed significantly to the preservation of our unique environment. It’s a great privilege to host them at the Festival.

Remember, the big reveal of the entire program and huge list of over 100 writers and thinkers will take place on 6 June. So watch this space.

Edwina Johnson, Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

Grab an Early Bird ticket today

Edwina Johnson (picture by Tim Eddy)

Edwina Johnson
(picture by Tim Eddy)

I’m thrilled to announce that Early Bird tickets for the 18th Festival go on sale on today. Food, history, true crime, travel, music, politics, screenwriting, memoir, journalism, sport, surf, poetry, art, romance, education, comedy…whatever your literary love, we have it covered.

We’ve dedicated the last five months to assembling an incredible program of literary stars all of whom will converge on Byron for three days in August in celebration of writing. Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you a taste of what we have in store before the launch of the full Festival program on 6 June.

A coup of which we’re particularly proud is securing US author Poe Ballantine. His latest book, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, part memoir, part true crime, is an incredible story about his neighbour, a college math professor who disappeared and whose mutilated body was found three months later. Author Cheryl Strayed says ‘Reading his work is inspiring, agitating, and invigorating… This is his best book ever.’ And Tom Robbins ‘Mark Twain would have admired his wit, and had Oscar Wilde read him, he would have bought an old Ford pickup and moved to Nebraska the day he got out of the slammer, hoping that some of his style rubbed off on him.’

Poe told me: ‘I’ve been a vagabond most of my adult life, living in at least seventy different places all over North America, but leaving the continent FINALLY and getting a chance to see Australia is the biggest thrill yet.’

Poe will feature at the Festival in various sessions including a conversation with ABC Radio presenter Richard Fidler at the Byron Community Centre. The interview will be recorded for later broadcast on his program ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler. So keep your eye out for that one.

We’re also bringing you a fascinating insight into Australia’s future direction on the world stage by our 22nd Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser. He will discuss his new book, Dangerous Allies, in which he asks whether our country should continue to follow our policy of strategic dependence or move towards a more strategically independent foreign policy. He makes an impassioned argument for breaking the current agreement with the US, to have an independent relationship with the superpower to allow Australia to have a more mature role in the region, most especially with China. I anticipate we will have a packed marquee for that session.

The line-up in the children’s marquee on Sunday is shaping up to be action-packed and great fun. It’s a special day for kids where they can meet some of their all-time favourite authors and be introduced to some new ones. Remember, we offer a Youth Pass especially designed for kids to take advantage of our dedicated children’s program.

A headline act for this year’s children’s marquee is Mem Fox, one of Australia’s best-loved picture-book authors whose books Possum Magic and Where is the Green Sheep? have sold millions of copies around the world.

Just a reminder that the Festival is being held from 1- 3 August with workshops commencing on 28 July. Our discounted Early Bird tickets are available for a limited time only so why not head to our website now and book.

Edwina Johnson, Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival

Leave a comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival

The 18th Writers Festival is shaping up to be the best yet…

Edwina Johnson (picture by Tim Eddy)

Edwina Johnson
(picture by Tim Eddy)

After a whirlwind move from Sydney, I’m close to finalising a rich program of writers, performers, poets, thinkers, comedians and musicians for the 2014 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. The program is filling out with talent covering everything from politics and crime to screen writing and fiction in all its forms. We have some international gems and a host of the best local writers and thinkers in Australia today.

I’m very excited about incorporating new media into the program. We are trying some new ideas to diversify the program and explore different literary mediums.

Our partnership with Griffith REVIEW goes from strength to strength. The most recent issue of Griffith REVIEW, co-edited by acclaimed New Zealand author Lloyd Jones, shines a spotlight on the shifting tides in New Zealand. Through this association and with the support of the NZ Book Council, we will be bringing some of New Zealand’s most exciting and innovative literary talent to the Festival.

Other areas that are emerging as strong Festival themes include the environment and investigative journalism. I think Festival-goers will find this aspect of the program incredibly stimulating. The children’s program is also looking fantastic with some of Australia’s favourite authors coming to inspire our young writers and readers.

So mark your diaries. The Festival is being held from 1- 3 August with workshops commencing on 28 July. We’ll release early bird tickets on 11 April and the full program on 6 June.

It’s such a privilege for me to invite leading writers and thinkers to congregate in this stunning landscape to celebrate the written word in all its forms. It’s also a privilege to live in these spectacularly beautiful surroundings. I’ve been holidaying in Byron for the past twenty years and feel so fortunate to have found such a stimulating job in one of the most beautiful places in Australia.

I’ll be here regularly updating you on Festival news, so watch this space.

Edwina Johnson, Director, Byron Bay Writers Festival

1 Comment

Filed under Byron Bay Writers' Festival