Where can you find a buzzing cafe and bar scene, beautiful beaches, plenty of boutique shopping and a celebration of Australian literature? From Friday 4 to Sunday 6 April 2014, the answer is at the Newcastle Writers Festival.
Following a successful first year, the Newcastle Writers Festival is back and fast becoming a must-see event in the Australian writing scene, with an anticipated 3,500 attendees this year and over 80 writers taking part.
Now in her second year as NWF director, we sat down with Rosemarie Milsom to find out more.
How have you chosen the panellists and speakers this year?
With a day job as a journalist (her role at the festival is voluntary), Rosemarie has a unique view of the writing scene. “I am able to keep track of the writers who are making an impact with their work, be it poetry, social commentary or fiction. Sometimes a session topic comes to me through a writer’s work, other times I think of the topic and then work out who best fits the theme given the books published in the past 12 months or so. Where possible, I include a local writer in the mix.”
What’s the most challenging thing about programming a festival like this?
Rosemarie likens the challenge to a big jigsaw puzzle: “I might have three writers in mind for a particular session but one is unable to make it because of the flight schedule. You also need a range of topics across a time slot – there’s no appeal in having two sessions about biography at the one time. I then have to match facilitators with the sessions and I like to make sure there is synchronicity between them where possible.”
Which session or speaker are you most excited about seeing?
While struggling to choose just one session, Rosemarie is eager to see the Saturday morning (April 5) session Dangerous Ideas: Challenging the Status Quo – a five panellist session including Philip Nitschke and Clementine Ford. “I think the diversity of perspectives will make for an interesting 90 minutes.”
“I am also eager to hear Wendy Harmer speak at the opening night event about how reading and writing have shaped her life. I admire Wendy and I think the audience will connect with her personal account.”
To find out more and book tickets, visit newcastlewritersfestival.org.