Newcastle Writers Festival 2013

I have gone to a few author and writers events in the past few years, not as many as some I’ll admit, but those that I have gone to have always been very useful and motivating, not only in learning about why the speaker may write, but where their ideas come from and how they themselves find inspiration. Over the weekend I attended the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival and for their first year, it was fantastic. Unfortunately I did forget to bring my camera so rather poor quality phone camera images will have to suffice, but I wasn’t just there for the photos, I took pages and pages of notes, each little thing being soaked up from these established, and new authors lucky enough to have broken into the field I aspire to be included in.

I attended the festival with Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf, and no doubt she will have brilliant summaries of her own; she attended an additional event to me as well so keep an eye on her page for her own thoughts, eloquently written as so many of her thoughts are. I have so much to say about the three seminars I attended I am planning on spreading them out over the next few days so as not to bombard you with a lot of excitement, but also so I can give each author and talk a well earned review.

This is the first time Newcastle has hosted a writers festival, and I must say they did an excellent job. Volunteer organiser and Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom did a lot of work with all of the amazing volunteers, as far as I was aware the festival went off without a hitch, people were being turned away because practically everything was sold out or full. There has been a multitude of press and radio interviews surrounding it and it is all worthy. I have yet been able to attend any of the past Sydney Writers Festivals (I am aiming for this year however), but there was a distinct cosy and inviting feel with the Newcastle festival that made it seem like a friendly gathering of people rather than a daunting event where people might feel intimidated to approach their favourite authors. In the time I was there I saw many people casually chatting with authors who they had just seen speak in a seminar, and key speakers like Miriam Margoyles were just walking through the festival like everyone else, she too probably had her own seminars she wanted to attend.

I went to three sessions on the Saturday and one on Sunday. I was unable to attend opening night which was a shame, there was talk of an audio going up of Miriam’s speech, if that happens I will post it up. I was also unable stay long Sunday because I had tickets to see The Script in Sydney. But I can’t really complain about that being a reason, they too were amazing. But for those sessions I was able to attend, in each of them I discovered more about the act of writing, becoming published, and just as wonderful: the inspiration of writing. More about those sessions tomorrow!

Before we had even gone to our first session we were eying the array of books that MacLean’s Booksellers had set up; stocked high with all of the novels, the poetry, memoirs, historical books, all the works of all the authors who were attending the festival. I found myself recognising a lot of authors who I have had as creative writing lecturers in the past at uni, a few I had seen at previous writing conferences, and naturally a vast many who I had not heard of. A lot of new books and authors were added to my reading list that day, unfortunately funds meant I could only buy two, but they were the two I really wanted: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan and The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill. On the festival website there is a list of all the authors who attended, and I assure you I will be raving about those that I saw and met next time.

I have already pencilled in the dates for next year (April 4-6 2014) and given the success of this year there is no doubt it is going to become a popular event frequented by authors and readers alike. Below are a list of the sites and articles to start looking into information about the festival, all have additional information about the weekend’s proceedings. If you did not go this year there is plenty of time to start planning for next year, though how can you really look ahead when you are still basking in the amazing that was the weekend.

Newcastle Writers Festival

Newcastle Writers Festival Facebook

Newcastle Writers Festival Twitter

Newcastle Herald Article – Authors enthrall fans at festival

1233 ABC Newcastle – Writers Festival a success

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