The full moon and stars glimmered over the sea and writers gathered by the heaters at the opening party. They ventured forth only to grab a canape or drink from a passing tray. Festival director Jonathan Parsons said he had wanted an eclectic mix of writers and the party was proof of that from from Katherine Boo to Mandy Nolan, George Megalogenis to Marieke Hardy, from Gideon Haig to Bob Brown, and another Tasmanian, Rohan Wilson.
I remember hearing Rohan being interviewed about winning the Vogel Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under 35 and how he had to keep quiet about it for seven months. He kept quiet about it last night too at the opening party. But we did talk about historial fiction, and how it’s best to avoid the temptation to use formal language. There are other ways to give the context of the era to the story. The things that writers talk about! Wilson’s novel is about John Batman. well known for being the founder of Melbourne but before a bounty hunter in Tasmania whose job job was to capture and kill the tribal Aborigines. Wilson said his book has taken off somewhat in Tasmania. I have a feeling it might take off in Byron too and look forward to seeing one of Rohan’s panels.
I met the publicists Cora Kipling for Scribe and Fenella Davidson from Random House. Cora reminded me of the importance of talking to your agent, having an agent as it can make a big difference to your book advance which helps when the amounts are not what you call life-changing. Fenella clearly has a passion not only for her clients but for books and writing. Meredith Curnow head of Vintage Australia was there. We were talking about how long it sometimes take writers to send manuscripts that they’ve talked about sending. Years. It reminded me of one I was going to send to Meredith. Years pass quickly do they not?
I also chatted to friends Jessie Cole and Lisa Walker both making debut appearances at the festival as published authors. Jessie said she had a recurring nightmare about having to stand up and dance to Saturday Night Fever while on her panel. Might be worth checking out to see if that really happens! It’s good to see people whose work I have heard snips of over the years, read taking their place on the panels with writers from all over the world and meeting their lucky readers and vice versa. They are pictured with Jane Camens of Literary Events Asia Pacific Plus