I have had the most fantastic weekend, visiting the Bendigo Writers Festival, which, according to WIN Bendigo, had approximately 15,000 attendees. 😀
When my husband and I moved to the eastern states in 2015, one of the main reasons was so that we could enjoy these type of events (not on offer in country WA) and sure, I had to travel approximately 300km to attend – but it was worth it.
Books are my passion and right behind that is my aspiration to be a writer myself. To spend a weekend with like-minded people, listening to authors – mostly successful already, but also some newbies – surrounded by excitement and bustle and books was inspirational. 😀
Opening night was supposed to feature Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild – but she had illness in her family and had to postpone. With a theme of Brave Enough, the session was to discuss:
“There are physical limits, and there are mental limits, both of which can stand in the way of creativity and our capacity to make the most of life.
Do you need to take risks to unlock creativity? Climb a mountain? Trek a trail? Or just force yourself to sit and think and keep your nose to that grindstone until it happens.”
The panel comprised a lighthearted crew of Ita Buttrose, Benjamin Law, David Astle and Graeme Simsion – and they were great.
Graeme Simsion, author of the Rosie Project and Rosie Effect – and from an IT background – was funny, albeit sensible and practical.
Benjamin Law, Australian writer and broadcaster (author of Family Law) is hilarious, very articulate and relaxed.
Ita Buttross, Australian icon, came across as warm and generous; and then David Astle – the word nerd – was quite normal! 🙂
So, I couldn’t persuade any fellow (aspiring) writers to come to Bendigo with me – I did ask in a couple of my writer groups on Facebook. It would be interesting to know if any fellow ‘nano writers’ were among the enthusiasts at the Festival.
The very first session with Liam Pieper and Victor del Arbol entitled Eurocrime was interesting and coincidentally Victor is Spanish and needed an interpreter – I’d attended my first Spanish class the night before and it seemed serendipitous that one of the first author’s I listened to was Spanish. A charming, funny and handsome Spaniard too, I must say! Even though we didn’t understand what he was saying – we were spellbound!
I’ve purchased the two books they were touting – The Toymaker (Liam Pieper) and The Heart Tastes Bitter (Victor). [Update: In July 2020, I’ve recently read his latest book Sweetness & Light) which is worth a go.
Liam says his book is about ‘a Russian doctor, imprisoned by the Nazi and sent to Auschwitz and forced to work with Josef Mengele in order to survive; but how can he help perpetuate evil and continue life after war as a good man?
Victor’s three main characters face ‘the one thing that we as humans can’t experience – only face – death. They all lose someone and as a result do terrible things; can they find redemption? Victor believes that ‘self-redemption lies in not denying your own actions or mistakes. He also says that an American author would have (in this instance) all the characters forgiven by the end of the book, but he is Spanish; they have a more tragic sense of life.’
I read The Toymaker over the weekend – and it is a good read – it’s a ‘literary’ read; but I wouldn’t have called it a crime novel (at least in my interpretation of what I enjoy as a crime novel. War crimes are more political / historical concepts.
Over the next few days I’ll write up some of the other sessions – and I hope you’ll enjoy them. If you get the opportunity to visit Writers Festivals around you, go for it! There’s a lot to be learned and enjoyed; if you’re a booklover, simply being surrounded by fellow weirdos makes a nice change!
I’ve got Write about the Murray to look forward to here in Albury – coming soon! 😀