I love Sydney Writers Festival time! I feel like a kid at the Easter Show down at Walsh Bay surrounded by books, authors and stories! While I love getting the chance to meet some of the authors whose books I love I also like the opportunity the festival gives you to discover a new book or author.
I thought I’d put together my wish list for the festival, if I could move space and time.
The author I most want to see is Jeffrey Eugenides. Middlesex is amongst my favourite all-time books and I loved his new book The Marriage Plot. And I also want to meet Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding.
I’m also keen to hear Roddy Doyle. I have a thing for Irish writers and his Henry Smart trilogy is superb. It follows a character from the Easter Uprising in 1916 through to the Ireland in the 90s taking in America, Louis Armstrong, Hollywood and of course The Troubles. (PS If I ever have a son he will be called Henry after the character in this trilogy). Fellow Irish author Sebastian Barry is also on my list.
I haven’t read Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward but is has been on my ‘to read’ pile for a while. It has had great reviews and won the National Book Award last year. The book follows a poor African American family who live on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico just before Hurricane Katrina hits. So I definitely want to hear Jesmyn talk about her novel.
I also think Barbara Arrowsmith-Young will be fascinating. She was one of the cases mentioned in Norman Doidge’s bestselling The Brain That Changes Itself. She has now written a book about her severe learning disabilities and how she was able to retrain her brain.
Now I’m the wrong age group and my daughters aren’t up to these books yet but Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid is going to be huge. The latest Wimpy Kid book was the bestselling book in Australia last year selling over 200,000 copies. I also want to hear picture book author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers .
But the Writers Festival is not just about international guests. It is also a celebration of our fantastic local writers. There are too many to list but my highlights to see would be Elliot Perlman, Drusilla Modjeska, P.A. O’Reilly, Charlotte Wood, Kate Grenville and Michael Robotham.
And there are of course the fantastic discussion panels and workshops!
One of the fantastic workshops at the festival this year is an all day event at the State Library: The Forest for the Trees. The workshop will look at what has happened in the last year for publishers, bookshops and the writer and discuss the challenges that exist for publishing in the modern world. Anna Maguire from the fantastic Digireado blog (like on facebook!) will be discussing recent developments in digital publishing and the opportunities created for writers.
Too much to see and not enough time!