The 2019 Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival has wrapped up after an overwhelmingly popular response to its program of ‘wild, weird and wonderful’ stories.
The 11th annual festival started spectacularly as former broadcaster and radio personality Verity James MC’d the festival launch which was headlined by writer, contrarian, activist and feminist, Professor Germaine Greer. Wadandi Cultural Custodian Iszaac Webb had the audience enthralled – as well as many of the headline guests it seemed – as he welcomed festival guests to Wadandi Boodja.
The festival drew sell-out crowds to most events on Saturday and Sunday, including those of Professor Greer and Australian icon Michael Leunig, with people coming from Perth and other parts of WA to experience the event, as well as a strong cohort of locals.
Festival Creative Director Tanya Perdue said she and Event Manager Michelle Wright enjoyed staging the event and seeing it all come together. “There were fits of laughter from the crowd any time William McInnes took the stage and perhaps more laughter than may have been expected in some of Germaine Greer’s sessions – along with a dose of controversy of course,” Ms Perdue said. “There was admiration for Michael Leunig’s uncanny ability to change the emotion of a character with a single stroke of his pen and tears as local writer Tom de Souza and Dr Gregory Peel Smith from NSW, shared their deeply personal stories and their aspirations for the future.”
‘We have been fortunate to retain local support while also garnering a bigger and better reputation further afield, putting the event firmly on the literary festival circuit. There was a fabulous buzz – and there is already huge anticipation for next year’s festival,” she said.
The festival continues this week as the Young Readers & Writers Program tours authors to schools in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River and the City of Busselton to inspire a love of reading and writing in young people. Children’s authors Cristy Burne and Kylie Howarth will also appear for a free book signing event at the Margaret River Bookshop after school on Wednesday 15th May at 3.30pm – all are welcome.
Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival is proudly presented by Arts Margaret River Inc.
Geraldine Doogue AO will join MRRWF line-up of literary talent for the 3-day event, which runs from 03-05 May.
Born and raised in Perth, Geraldine Doogue is a renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster who has carved out an enviable reputation across print, television and radio, working on The Australian, ABC’s Nationwide, 2UE, Channel 10 news and hosting ABC TV’s Compass program.
In her ongoing role as presenter of the ABC Radio National program Saturday Extra and ABC TV’s Compass, Geraldine continues to tackle a wide range of subjects with rigour, optimism, humour and warmth.
On the Saturday of the festival, Geraldine will take the stage to interview festival headliner Professor Germaine Greer on her controversial new essay, On Rape, in which Professor Greer argues that centuries of different approaches to rape, as inflicted by men on women, have got us nowhere and there has to be a better way.
On Sunday, Geraldine will interview Professor Greer in a session titled Protecting Wild Places, which recounts Professor Greer’s experience of rehabilitating 60ha of forest in southeast Queensland.
Festival Creative Director Tanya Perdue is ecstatic that Geraldine has agreed to join the festival “Having an articulate, talented journalist like Geraldine Doogue interviewing Professor Greer adds yet another level to what’s already expected to be two outstanding events,” she said. “There is really something special about experiencing a talented interviewer draw out all sorts of interesting perspectives from an author, especially one as revered as Professor Greer. While tickets to Germaine Greer: On Rape have already sold out, a limited number of tickets to Protecting Wild Places remain,” she said.
On Sunday night, Geraldine Doogue will join local personality and former ABC journalist Ian Parmenter for an exclusive dinner at Cape Lodge, called Memories, Media, and Chateaubriand – a lively evening of conversation, music, and nosh-stalgia. Geraldine will be in conversation with Ian as they reflect on their early days in the Perth media landscape and what has happened since. The evening will feature a grand four-course dinner prepared by Chef Tony Howell showcasing dishes from the 1970s and 80s, paired with top wines. Plus, with live music and an exhibition of works by legendary cartoonist Paul Rigby, the premium event is the perfect chance to continue the celebrations once the main program concludes.
Memories, Media, and Chateaubriand tickets: $175 | Arts Hub Members: $165
Includes Pre dinner drinks, 4 Course Dinner with wines and plenty of entertainment!
Book your tickets online, call (08) 97587316 or visit Arts Margaret River Box Office at the Community Centre, Tunbridge St, Margaret River.
The Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (MRRWF) is geared up for another inspiring, intriguing and thought-provoking 3-day event, featuring writer, contrarian, activist and feminist, Professor Germaine Greer as its headliner. To be held from 03-05 May 2019 on the picturesque grounds of Voyager Estate, the festival will see Professor Greer speak about her life and career, as well as her latest book On Rape, and her environmental work.
The festival’s line up of literary talent also includes Australian cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet Michael Leunig, who will appear in events on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival, to share his love of cartooning and human observation.
South-East Asia Correspondent, James Massola, who was on the ground at the miraculous 2018 rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from the Tham Luang cave in Thailand, will share his story as told in The Great Cave Rescue. He will be joined by journalist turned novelist, Chris Hammer, for what’s expected to be a sell-out breakfast event called Foreign Correspondent to be held in the Voyager Estate restaurant on Sunday morning. On Saturday night, festival guests have the chance to enjoy an evening with one of Australia’s most popular writers and actors, William McInnes.
Award-winning astrophysicist, presenter of ABC television’s ‘Stargazing Live’ and author of When Galaxies Collide, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith will also join the line up for a session that will ensure you’ll never look up at the night sky in the same way again.
Dr Gregory Peel Smith will speak about his remarkable memoir Out of the Forest which follows his journey from living in near total-isolation in the forest, foraging for food and eating bats, to his life today where he has a PhD and teaches at university.
Featuring literary icons Kim Scott, Anna Funder, Liz Byrski and Amanda Curtin, as well as a range of other established and emerging writers, the festival is a must for anyone who loves reading, cultural events, current affairs and of course, Margaret River.
Festival Creative Director Tanya Perdue said the 2019 festival program explored wild, weird and wonderful stories in keeping with this year’s theme. “With writers from overseas and across Australia, including top WA and local talents, this year’s program is sure to spark curiosity and ignite debate,” she said. “With the festival at the gorgeous Voyager Estate, a top line up, and a range of ticket and accommodation packages ready to go, you can organise a memorable weekend away in no time.”
Tickets to the 2019 Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival will be available for purchase online from 10am on Monday 25 February by phone 08 9758 7316, or from the Arts Margaret River Box Office, Margaret River Community Centre, Tunbridge Street, Margaret River.
The State Government is proud to support the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival as part of its Regional Events Program.
Arts Margaret River is set to present another compelling Readers & Writers Festival in 2019 with a new team onboard to deliver an outstanding program of literary brain food.
Tanya Perdue, who directed the festival in 2017 and part of 2018, is back on board and will this time take on the role of Creative Director, while local talent Michelle Wright will take on the role of Event Manager. The duo are thrilled to be taking the reins for the 2019 event and are excited to work with the broader Arts Margaret River team to deliver an inspiring and engaging festival.
General Manager Andrew Frith said having both Tanya and Michelle as part of the team would allow greater capacity for the sharing of ideas and overall improvement of the event which is going from strength to strength and growing each year. “Arts Margaret River is now very well-placed to deliver a festival that’s even better than the last one,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to next year’s festival, as well as our year-round events too of course,” he said.
Mr Frith said the 2017 and 2018 festivals had an overwhelmingly popular response to inspiring programs which featured the likes of Michael Palin, Kerry O’Brien, Clementine Ford, Robert Drewe, Stephanie Alexander, Geraldine Brooks, Dr Karl and many more.
While no hints have yet been given about which writers we can expect to see next year, the dates and venue have now been set. “The 2019 event will be held from 03-05 May and for the second-year running will be held on the grounds of Voyager Estate while the Cultural Centre is completed,” Mr Frith said.
“The Arts Margaret River team look forward to bringing you one of our best festivals yet – stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will soon be announcing the 2019 theme and we aim to bring you a number of fabulous out-of-season events with engaging authors in the lead up to the main festival,” he said.
An Interview with Tiffany Hastie – Winner of the South West Prize in the 2018 Margaret River Short Story Competition
Your story ‘The Chopping Block’ won the South West Prize in the MR Short Story competition. How did you approach the story from conception through to completion? Were there certain challenges in its execution?
A majority of my writing is speculative fiction. I don’t tend to write about characters in everyday settings very often, so ‘The Chopping Block’ took me by surprise. Marnie’s story came to me naturally; we had been studying short fiction at ECU, so my mind was searching for a short story idea when I went to feed my sister’s dog one day and found myself alone (a very rare occurrence for a mother of four who works and studies). Sitting in her house with only the quiet dog, excited to see me, and the ambient noise from the neighbours going about their close-but-separate daily lives was both exciting and unsettling. It instantly reminded me of growing up on our farm and how isolating it can be. Time seems to move differently when you’re separated, alone and quiet in your landscape. Suddenly Marnie and Kenny were in my head, only she wasn’t enjoying her quiet time like me, she was a woman wanting to be apart from the world but also trapped in her loneliness.
When I started writing ‘The Chopping Block’ I was excited about writing a story with no weird supernatural happenings and no blood for a change. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I did not see the accident coming. When I write it’s like watching a movie for me, but, slowly, so I often have an idea of the story but no idea what’s going to happen. Looking back at the story after it was finished I could see my own grieving in there. I had lost two family members and my dog recently, and I longed to be alone to grieve. Marnie’s story started out as wish fulfilment for me but quickly became a cautionary tale.
How did you find the editing process? Did you learn anything that you’ll apply in respect to your future work?
Working with an editor and copyeditor to get ‘The Chopping Block’ ready for the anthology was a first for me. Thankfully it was pain free. I found their suggestions and ideas knowledgeable and could feel that they wanted to see my story reach its full potential. The one part I get the most discussion on from early readers is the section on peas. It’s a part that people either understand or are deeply confused by. If I had a dollar for every time someone tried to explain to me that peas are vegetables and so don’t have meat in them I’d have … well, probably enough to buy a couple of kilos of peas. I just keep winking and saying it’s not about peas though, is it?
Sense of place is a strong theme that permeates through ‘The Chopping Block’. How do you think living in the South West has influenced your writing style and what you choose to write about?
Living in the South West has certainly influenced my writing style, especially in ‘The Chopping Block’. The farmhouse Marnie lives in may be a little more traditional than the one I grew up in, but the farm described is certainly the one of my childhood. When Marnie goes out to gather sticks for kindling in the cold afternoon I can smell the damp earth, feel the long, wet grass along the fence line, see the gnarled stick fingers blown from the gum trees high above. There is a deep isolation walking a rural property with only the far-off sounds of cattle, crows, galahs and four-wheelers somewhere you can’t quite place. The terrifying feeling of knowing if something happens you’re on your own, but also the deep exhilaration of being completely unobserved.
Living rurally, you become sensitive to the sights and sounds of the property, always alert for rabbit holes, fallen trees, broken wire, missing animals and wriggly-sticks sunning themselves on the path. You get to know your patch so well you can see it in your mind long after your connection to the place has been geographically severed. For me I notice that my best writing doesn’t happen to me in my office or the library, but when I head out into the bush, immersed in the cacophony of natural sounds and deep silence of the human world.
How do you approach short stories as a writer? Have you noticed certain threads reoccurring in your work or do you explore particular types of characters?
Stories approach me in a couple of ways. One is when I think of a good scene or ending, I become so excited about that one event that I write to get there. This was how I wrote ‘Good Boy’, my recent prose story that won the ECU Talus. The twist ending came to me first and the characters bloomed out of that. The other way stories happen to me is when a character comes into my head and just starts doing things or talking me through their thoughts, I never know where they’re taking me or who they are until I get to the end. With those stories I’m often not even sure if they’re a short story or a novel until I get to end. Marnie and Kenny from the ‘Chopping Block’ came to me like that.
Often my short story characters are alone, either physically or mentally, and, without wanting to sound to deep, I think that is substantially true of all humans in real life. Many of my characters live in isolation and conflicts that drive their stories happen either when they try to break out of this loneliness or someone else tries to get in. Maybe it’s because, as much as I love the people around me, I enjoy being alone. I always say if I didn’t have a family, I’d never leave the house.
You’re currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Writing and Literature and a minor in Children’s Literature, at Edith Cowan University. How does formal study feed into your own creative exploration?
As a mature age student, I was worried about returning to formal study after such a long hiatus. I did it for one reason only: to improve my writing. But I have found it has done so much more for me. It has widened my reading, given me the language to describe my writing and others, and given me the confidence to pursue the tendrils of inspiration that I was dismissing before thinking they weren’t ‘solid’ enough. This confidence to pursue unusual ideas has led to the creation of some of my favourite stories to date. Plus, I get to write essays. I love essays. I know, it’s weird.
Tell us, who are your favourite writers? And who influences your writing style the most?
I was not a natural reader in my childhood. I was always busy climbing a tree or acting out some fantasy story in my head in the bush around our farm; sitting still to read a book seemed boring to me, a hilariously weird prospect now that I’m trying to be an author. The first book to influence me was Isobelle Carmody’s Green Monkey Dreams, a collection of short stories, a little bit sci-fi, a little bit fantasy, a little bit dream-like. Those stories really opened up my mind to what writing could be, to the kind of subjects you can project. My second influence was Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden, this was the first novel I ever read end to end – the fast-pace, the realistic characters, the distinctly rural Australian setting – I was hooked instantly. I met both of these authors a few years ago at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival and it was a very surreal experience, still one of the best of my life. My influences have been broadened in the last few years while completing my degree: Charlotte Wood, Meg McKinlay, Cormac McCarthy, Leonora Carrington, Ursula Le Guin, and Kim Scott have all become favourites. I like my reading raw, breath-taking and bizarre, sparse prose with characters pushed to the limits in gothic settings, and I think my writing naturally follows this style.
Tiffany Hastie won the South West Prize in the 2018 Margaret River Short Story Competition with her short story ‘The Chopping Block’, which will appear in Pigface and Other Stories, to be released in June 2018. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Writing and Literature and a minor in Children’s Literature, at Edith Cowan University in Bunbury. She recently won the Talus Prize for her prose piece ‘Good Boy’ and was commended for her poem ‘The Stick Game’.
Tiffany Hastie will be talking at the Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival. For more information please visit the Festival’s website.