The annual Perth Writers Festival, part of the larger Perth Festival and coinciding with the end of the Perth Fringe Festival (February is all about the festival) has been and gone, with me spending three very happy – if a little (ridiculously) hot – days in attendance.
UWA students are snooty for good reason.
Held at the beautiful University of Western Australia, the writers festival provides four days of lectures, interviews and workshops – a combination of paid and free – with local and international authors. Last year I was lucky enough to meet and do a workshop with Isobelle Carmody, Writer Who Made Me Want To Be A Writer (who had the dubious honour of seeing me at full fangirl) and this year I did workshops with AJ Betts, author of the wonderful Text prize winning Zac & Mia, and Susan May, new and already very successful indie author of Behind The Fire, and participator and curator of From The Indie Side, an anthology of works from bestselling authors such as Hugh Howie.
Both workshops – the first on how to write for young adults, the second on how to market yourself and your work – and both women were great. Informative, funny, and incredibly encouraging. I’ll type up my notes from both and share them in the next few days, in case any of you are interested.
I didn’t pay to see any lectures, discussions or interviews, which is a shame because there were some amazing options to choose from. But at $12-15 a pop, it tends to add up and I’m working on a budget. The ones I’d like to have seen included interviews with Lionel Shriver (who I saw wandering around at lunch, and she was kind of terrifying in the most awesome way), a day long series of discussions on game culture and game writing featuring a writer from the Assassins Creed series, discussions of misogyny in our culture and media, homosexuality and homophobia in our culture and media, interviews with William McInnes (dreamboat, he spoke at my Masters graduation) and a whole heaping list more. The only problem with the Writers Festival is settling on an itinerary. Well. That and all the peacocks.
The talks I did see, because I bounced around the freebies (solo, with friends, and with my Mum) ranged from discussions on writing yourself as a character with memoirist Anchee Min (author of Red Azalea), first novels and the difference in writing novels from short stories or novellas, the role of myth in modern society and the future of Indigenous Australia with Alexis Wright (author of Carpentaria and The Swan Book), and the importance of freedom in the press with a bunch of Walkley award winning journalists (dragged to that one by political geek buddy).
If you ever get a chance to be in Perth at this time of year, say yes and clear your schedule. Perth is at its best in February, and the writers fest is a significant part of it. I’m already excited for next years.