9.8 C
Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Wide appeal in writers fest lineup

Latest News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Other News

Interview with Bob Vegas

The glorious Bob Downe is back with a brand new show: Viva Bob Vegas! at the Brunswick Picture House. He gave Seven the Downe low…

It’s D-Day for Byron’s Marvell Street DA

Will a controversial hotel development in central Byron that exceeds both height and floor space limits be given conditional approval at this week’s Byron Council meeting?

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Free mental health workshop for Byron businesses

Business owners in Byron Shire are invited to attend a free 'Healthy Mindset' workshop aimed at providing them with resources and tools to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as the opportunity to connect with other business owners.

War The Bloody Hell Are You?

When faced with potential conflict, why are we abandoning the strategy that’s worked in the past for one that will definitely fail?

Developers push swamp boundaries – will council push back?

It has once again been left to residents to raise serious issues in relation to a development application (DA) that is pushing to overdevelop at 6 Keats Street, Byron Bay at the expense of the environment, in particular the Cumbebin Swamp.

New Byron Bay Writers Festival director Jonathan Parsons has just announced some of the authors appearing at this year's festival in August.

Story and photo Luis Feliu

Jonathan Parsons is excited. It’s his first year at the helm of what he describes as one of the ‘most loved’ writers festivals in Australia, which is just a few months away, and he’ll announce the lineup in mid-June.

It’s something he’s been working on since taking up the appointment last year as Byron Bay Writers Festival’s fifth after a restructuring which saw the joint role of directing both the festival and the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre which runs it split into two roles.

Jonathan, a seasoned festival producer, feels he’s struck the right balance in the program to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

The 16th annual Byron Bay Writers Festival, on August 3-5, will feature over 100 writers of fiction and non-fiction books, young and old, experienced and novice, sharing marquees with filmmakers, songwriters, scientists and activists.

Jonathan’s first nice surprise was seeing the festival’s two-day primary schools program for this year booked out.

‘It’s a strong program for young children and for young writers, so we’ve brought parts of it into the main program this year which doesn’t often happen,’ he said.

Leading the bill in this category is popular children’s book author and comedy writer Andy Griffiths, who came to the festival five years ago, and returns this year to promote the latest book in his Just! series.

Prolific fantasy writer Isobelle Carmody also returns to the Byron festival after six years to promote her latest work. The author of the acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles appeals to many young readers.

‘We’re really proud that local writer Shamus Sillar will be a part of the festival this year with his first published novel, a travel memoir called Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany.

He pitched his unpublished manuscript at this festival a few years ago and it was picked up as a result by one of the world’s biggest publishers,’ Jonathan said.

Novelist Charlotte Wood is well known among Australia’s lovers of cooking and eating and will talk about her new offering, Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food. Charlotte attended the Byron festival in 2008 festival and is well known to patrons.

‘Fiction writer Jane Caro will be here for the first time this year and her latest historical fiction book Just a Girl, which tells the story of the early years of Elizabeth I, is simply a great read,’ Jonathan said.

Caro, a Sydney-based award-winning advertising writer, is also known through her Gruen Transfer television series appearances.

These are just some of the initial program highlights the new director is proud to announce.

‘I want to build on the strong history of the past festivals and the work of previous directors, it’s not a radical shift because clearly it’s working quite well after 16 years,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘To me, it’s all about what writers are writing about and what publishers are publishing out there, there’s some really interesting writing in the science-fiction area, which is not surprising as some of the big issues of our time require an understanding of science such as climate change.

‘Technological changes are also impacting on society now, so lots of writers are grappling with that now and in the science fiction genre, that thread is coming through.

‘Other sub-themes coming through are economics and business because it’s on people’s minds as it impacts on their lives, environmental themes and there’s some fantastic fiction writers and travel memoirs this year.

‘It’s all about balance and we have an eclectic program which will be both familiar and surprising.’

Jonathan spends half the week at home in Brisbane and the remainder in Byron Shire working at the writers’ centre.

He has been a cultural programmer/producer for almost 20 years, most of that with festivals, including a four-year stint directing the popular Sydney Mardi Gras Festival from 1997 to 2000.

‘In 1998, it was our 20th anniversary festival when Kylie Minogue first appeared, so that one is particularly special for me,’ he said.

Jonathan started his festival career with Pacific Wave in 1996, an event focused on contemporary Pacific arts which was ‘really quite ahead of its time in engaging with the Pacific region’.

He also worked with the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 2002 before ending up in Brisbane where he directed the River Festival, a ‘big community environmental festival’ then becoming inaugural director of public programs at the Queensland State Library.

‘I’d heard of the Byron writers’ festival for many years and knew its reputation was quite strong, so I came up here for the first time last year and saw how palpable the strong community ownership of the festival was,’ he said.

‘Clearly there was a real sense of the community here loving their festival and its informal nature.

‘I’ve been at Brisbane and Sydney festivals and it’s a different atmosphere, people buy day tickets instead of attending sessions, so they’re much more open to authors they don’t know, there’s that surprise element which is memorable.

‘Here at Byron we create a conversation between the audience (readers) and writers as well as between authors, that’s the real aim of it.’

Discounted early-bird tickets are now available till the release of the full program on June 15. Visit www.byronwritersfestival.com.au

 

 

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality.