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Newcastle Writers' Festival

Michelle Morgan - Sunday, April 06, 2014

Even the rain couldn't keep the crowds away from the Newcastle Writers' Festival this weekend. It was a fantastic program with many highlights including the panel discussion on Radical Newcastle that looked at inspirational aspects of Newcastle's colourful history, the high-energy seminar by Kathryn Heyman on the art and craft of writing fiction, and the thought-provoking discussions about crime fiction and anti-heroes with Garry DisherAngela Savage and Adrian McKinty.

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Festival of Golden Words

Michelle Morgan - Monday, March 17, 2014

I've just spent an amazing three days at the Festival of Golden Words in Beaconsfield, Tasmania. On day one, I brushed up on my writing skills at a children's writing workshop run by Lian Tanner and listened to some very entertaining talks by Andy Griffiths and Nick Earls in a program that included other fine Australian children's and YA authors.

As well as the children's program, there were two days of concurrent author talks and panel discussions in the marquees set up next to the community centre. There were so many interesting talks, not only by fiction writers, but by food, wine, comedy, historical and biographical writers. it was hard to choose which sessions to go to. My personal favourites were the interviews with Carrie Tiffany, Alex Miller and Hannah Kent as well as the panel discussions that included professors Henry Reynolds and Peter Stanley on the topics of the celebration of war and ANZAC in Australia as well as the neglect of Aboriginal history. It was refreshing to listen to informed arguments being discussed empathetically and respectfully. Every session that I went to also allowed plenty of time for questions from the audience.

There was also a fantastic session called "The Pitch" where budding authors were able to pitch their manuscript or ideas for a book to a panel of publishing experts. It was so interesting listening to the range of stories being pitched in different and engaging ways. Irina Dunn did a great job of chairing this session, which could have easily gone on much longer.

To lighten things up, there were also some very amusing sessions, such as the one chaired by Wendy Harmer to discuss comedy that included Nikki Gemmell and Rachel Treasure. For the foodies and wine connoisseurs there were tastings and talks with Maggie Beer, Max Allen and many other food and wine writers at local wineries.

It was a very inspiring and entertaining way to spend 3 days in the beautiful Tamar Valley. If you plan on going to Beaconsfield, you should allow a couple of hours at least to visit the fabulous Mine & Heritage Centre, which is not only at the site of the Beaconsfield mine disaster, but has fascinating exhibits throughout the historical buildings:

Goodbye Tassie and many thanks to the organisers of the Festival of Golden Words!

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