Writers and Readers week is always an exciting, stimulating time and this year was no exception.
The main disappointment for me is that there are no longer NZ writer focused sessions at the Dans Palais. In fact where has the Dans Palais gone? I know it was a small venue but it was so charming.
Also didn't the Gala Opening used to have drinks afterwards? I guess they are cutting back on costs, shame.
I managed to be privy to basically all of the events at the Embassy including the schools events on Tuesday, which, by the way, really raised my hopes. No matter what the media says, there are plenty of smart and engaging youths in our community. Some had travelled from as far away as Picton.
As I mentioned earlier, the Gala Opening on Tuesday night lacked the sense of occasion it seemed to have in previous years although the session itself was a great little intro to the week, chaired by the glorious Kate de Goldi. Kamila Shamsie, Neil Cross, Gil Adamson and Audrey Niffenegger chatted about their novels. If I had to pick one author to read out of the four I would try Shamsie with Gil Adamson a close second.
Wednesday opened with Sarah Waters, the session was chaired by her publisher Lennie Goodings. It's unusual for a writer's publisher to interview them on stage, it runs the risk of being a glammed up press conference. Lennie had been interviewing her on the whole world tour and they had it down pat, a bit too pat, which was a shame, as I'm sure a good Chair would have teased some great moments out of the hour. Still Waters was charming and the audience loved her.
In contrast Emily Perkins with Caroline Baum was a great session. I hadn't heard of Caroline before, her bio says: Caroline Baum was the arts editor of Melbourne’s Sunday Herald and the features editor at Vogue Australia. She has presented ABC TV’s book show Between the Lines, and was executive producer of ABC Radio National’s Arts Today. She has also hosted Foxtel’s book show Talking Books. Caroline became the founding editor of Good Reading magazine in 2001. In 2006 she produced and co-wrote her first television documentary, In Search of Bony, for SBS. Her company, Two Heads Media, currently has several TV projects in development. She is a regular contributor to national (Australian) newspapers and magazines.
No wonder she is a fantastic interviewer. Emily was smart and sharp. Quotes I liked: “When we tell stories we are controlling time” “Writing is a mapping process”. Emily also said something along the lines of being sick of “illuminating endings” or just any endings or seeing life as a narrative arc. Hmm sounds like she's been hanging out with Damien Wilkins.
I'll continue with these notes shortly