Writers gear up for festival

Published 18 July 2007

Southern Cross University academics Janie Conway-Herron and Nell Cook and writing graduate Katherine Howell will all take a stint as ‘writers-in-residence’ during this year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival.

The University is a major sponsor of the Festival which runs from Friday, July 27 to Sunday, July 29, with workshops from July 23. Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark will introduce the opening lecture by journalist and author David Marr, ‘Shouldn’t we be home writing instead of having a good time in Byron Bay?’

The Festival program is diverse and exciting with over 100 extraordinary Australian and overseas writers and thinkers, and prominent figures in the media, who all shape and reflect our vision of the twenty first century.

Guest highlights include Cate Kennedy, Gail Jones, Garry Disher, Richard Flanagan, Barry Jones, Barry Maitland, Frank Brennan, Bryan Dawe, Gabrielle Lord, Fran Kelly, Lincoln Hall, Chris Masters, Gideon Haigh, Jennifer Byrne and 2007 Miles Franklin Award winner Alexis Wright, to name a few.

Fiona Martin, Southern Cross University lecturer in journalism and media production, Professor Bee Chen Goh, head of the School of Law and Justice and Janie Conway-Herron, lecturer in creative writing, will all chair discussions or sit on panels during the Festival.

On Friday Fiona Martin will chair ‘Trust me, I’m a journalist: the ethics of investigative journalism’ with Ray Moynihan, Paul Sheehan, Ross Gittins and Leigh Sales; Janie Conway-Herron will chair ‘Writers and rights: how writing impacts on human rights’ with Alice Garner, Eva Sallis, and Haji Sulaiman Abdullah.

On Saturday Fiona will chair ‘Going too far: journalists reveal where and why they draw the line’, featuring Deborah Thomas, Piers Akerman and Antony Loewenstein; Bee Chen Goh will chair ‘Islam and the rights of women: a conversation across cultures’ with Mehrun Siraj, Paul Sheehan and Zahra Ghahramani.

On Sunday Fiona will chair ‘Blogging: why do it, who does it and who reads it?’ with Shalini Akhil, Marieke Hardy, Antony Loewenstein, Kate Crawford and Deepika Shetty.

At a pre-festival workshop on Thursday, July 26, Janie and Bachelor of Arts (Writing) graduate and published author Katherine Howell will sit on the panel session of the full-day workshop ‘Nuts and Bolts: so you want to be a writer’, which will cover the business and practicalities of being a writer.

Rather than showing aspiring authors how to write, the seminar will cover the intricacies of the publishing process and the path of a manuscript through a publishing house, the role of the agent, the work of the manuscript assessor and ‘how an editor pulls the good bones out of the flabby body of work’.

Janie promises participants will get to meet top industry professionals and go home with a toolkit of insider knowledge.

The very popular free neck and shoulder massages will again be on offer during the festival by Bachelor of Naturopathy students and there will be a daily word game competition.

Two pre-festival events being held at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus library next week.

First is a talk by acclaimed Lennox Head English author and illustrator of 20 books, Martin Chatterton on Tuesday July 24 from 12 -1pm. Martin will speak on the interaction between illustration and words.

Author Katherine Howell, previously a writing student at SCU, has just published her first book, Frantic, through Pan Macmillan. She will be reading from her book and discussing the process of becoming a published author in the library from 12 noon to 1pm on Wednesday, July 25. Frantic will be available to purchase.

Discounted student Festival tickets are available at the Plaza newsagency. Other tickets available online at www.byronbaywritersfestival or by phoning 02 6685 6262 (credit card only) or from Jetset Travel Marvell Street, Byron Bay.

Photo: Tom Hughes reads as Southern Cross University staff discuss course options with Stephanie Begg and Alamela Rolas at last year's Byron Bay Writers Festival Secondary Schools Day.