Monday, August 31, 2015

Melbourne Writer’s Festival 20-30 August 2015

Saturday 22 August

A romantic career

Romance novelists Anne Gracie {Aus} and Mary Jo Putney {US} joined Kate Cuthbert {Managing Editor Escape Publishing} to talk about the romance genre and their successful careers writing romance fiction. It was clear from the start that the audience was full of romance readers and fans of Gracie and Putney, more so than many of the other sessions I’ve been to over the years where you get the feeling people may have taken potluck on a session thinking it may or may not be interesting. These people seemed to know many of the books the authors were referring to and when certain ones were mentioned there were appreciative murmurs indicating a much loved favourite.  But it wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy fan-fest.  For aspiring writers, Gracie and Putney had many tips, one which sticks in my mind was Gracie’s quote {attributed to both Wilkie Collins nad Oscar Wilde} advising writers to make them {the readers} laugh, make them cry and make them wait. All three of the panelists agreed that visibility is one of the greatest challenges facing writers who want commercial success and that the advent of the ebook has brought about many opportunities for creative expansion. Gracie and Putney agreed that for a romance book to work it must be a great story well told and it must show the power of love over any adversity. Anne Gracie's latest book is The spring bride. Mary Jo Putney's latest book is Not always a saint.

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Greg Sheridan Inside story

Greg was in conversation with Patricia Karvelas, host of Radio National’s Drive. Sheridan has recently published a memoir When we were young and foolish which looks at his formative years and the many friendships he made with now prominent politicians. He is close friends with Tony Abbot after meeting him at university where he also met Peter Costello and Michael Danby. When he worked at the Bulletin he became close to Bob Carr and Malcolm Turnbull amongst others and once he left the Bulletin to become a columnist at the Australian newspaper he was posted to China and worked with Kevin Rudd. His reply to the question of why he wrote this book was that he wanted to capture a time and a place {and in particular the threat of Communism faced at this time}; explain how he reached his view of the world and to tell a few jokes.
Image result for greg sheridan mwfThis was a fascinating session, Sheridan is an articulate speaker with a warm and engaging manner and his personal views of some of the most powerful men in Australia made for very interesting listening.

Mark Latham  Politicians as journalists

Everyone has probably heard about this session on the Saturday evening news. The first few minutes were fine with Jonathan Green introducing Mark Latham as an economics graduate; a career politican and leader of the Australian Labor Party  from 2003 -2005, a protégé of Gough Whitlam and until last week a columnist with the Australian Financial Review. Latham was then asked if he is behind the twitter account @RealMarkLatham which has been cited as making derogatory and abusive remarks about women. Latham declined to answer this question and then became abusive towards Green saying he would not answer any of his questions but would only answer questions from the audience in a show of “true democracy”. The only problem with this was he didn’t really answer any of the audience questions either. It was an extremely hostile session with Latham claiming Green was exhibiting the same kinds on behavior he was being accused of with his offensive retweets of other people’s opinions of Latham. A former AFR colleague and someone I think may be involved in the promotion of his latest book Latham at large tried to calm the situation by asking Latham to comment on the current state of Australian politics but unfortunately he had got up a big head of steam and used this question to talk about his treatment at the hands of the AFR management. A number of people left the session as Latham swore at various people and continued his bizarre rant.
After the session, MWF released a statement saying: "Melbourne Writers Festival was disappointed in Mark Latham's appearance today. It was not the respectful conversation we value. Mr Latham's session was booked four months ago. He was invited to speak on the topic of politicians as journalists."
Green simply tweeted: “Well that escalated quickly”.

Sunday 23 August

Liane Moriarty and Graeme Simsion in conversation with Toni JordanAussie bestsellers

This session celebrated the enormous success of Moriarty and Simsion.
Liane Moriarty is the New York Times bestselling author of The husband’s secret and Big little lies plus four other novels while Graeme Simsion wrote the phenomenally successful The Rosie project and it’s sequel The Rosie effect.
Toni Jordan {author of Addition and a great interviewer} revealed that US actor Jennifer Lawrence has just signed to play Rosie in the film after the rights were sold to Sony.  The film and television rights for Big little lies have been snapped up by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Moriarty and Simsion were asked what people like about their books. For Moriarty it’s humour and about being about to identify with the characters and for Simsion it’s about laugh out loud moments and character engagement. The panel discussed books covers; international audiences, how they write and the joys and fears they face in trying to write another great book. This was a feel good session, lots of laughs and insights from three fabulous writers.
Image result for liane moriarty graeme simsion mwfImage result for big little liesImage result for graeme simsion

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