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Writing student launches second novel at Byron Bay Writers Festival


Sharlene King
29 July 2014
Author and Southern Cross University student Jessie Cole will be launching her second novel, while media and creative writing students will be rubbing shoulders with some of the best novelists, writers, commentators and journalists from around the world at this week’s 2014 Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Southern Cross University is a longtime supporter of the Byron Bay Writers Festival (BBWF), which runs from August 1 to 3.

The SCU Marquee will be the venue for internationally acclaimed UK writer Jeanette Winterson to deliver the Festival’s keynote address on Friday August 1 at 11am.

Jessie Cole’s latest novel Deeper Water will be launched on Friday August 1 at 2.30pm at the North Byron Launchpad. Jessie is a Bachelor of Arts with Honours student at Southern Cross University and Deeper Water forms part of her research thesis.

In Deeper Water, a young woman who has grown up in an alternative community at the edge of a small town rescues a city man venturing into the area when his car washes off a bridge during a flood. A clash of cultures and beliefs follows as the woman is awakened to the outside world.

Jessie’s debut novel Darkness on the Edge of Town was shortlisted for the ALS (Australian Literature Society) Gold Medal.

The Tweed Valley resident said she was excited to be invited to be part of the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

“It’s special to be launching my second book at the Festival. My debut novel was launched at my house where I had a big party and invited just family and friends.

“This launch will be much more official and public!”

Jessie will be appearing on two panel discussions across the BBWF weekend:

• ‘Into the Wild’: Jessie joins Robyn Davidson, Claire Dunn and Felicity Volk. Chaired by Anneli Knight. 10.15am on Sunday August 3 in the Macquarie Marquee
• ‘Jessie Cole and Inga Simpson’ in conversation with Lisa Walker. 3.45pm on Sunday August 3 in the New Philosopher Marquee.

This is the fourth consecutive year the University’s media and creative writing students have been contributing material to the BBWF blog while gaining valuable industry experience.

This year a group of 10 students will be writing blogs, tweeting posts, recording audio and taking photographs of many sessions across the Festival weekend.

Led by SCU journalism lecturer Jeanti St Clair as editor, the team works as if they are part of an onsite newsroom.

“This year students will be collating some of the best social media commentary coming from the Festival audiences and include those in their blog reports,” Ms Clair said.

“As well, the students will be joining BBWF chief blogger Marian Edmunds in generating and posting live Twitter comments as the sessions unfold, using #BBWF2014.”

Marian Edmunds said the Festival provided invaluable experience for the students to report in a live situation.

“It’s great to work with the SCU students and their lecturer Jeanti St Clair at the Byron Bay Writers Festival. The students’ excitement of covering a live event and of working with a team is infectious.

“I also love seeing how engaged the SCU students are by the ideas discussed by the writers at the Festival. Working with them reminds me of why I became a journalist,” said Marian.

The Sunflower, the University’s solar power system, will be powering the media tent where the students will be based. Located next to the SCU Marquee, Festivalgoers will be able to observe the students at work and find out information about the University’s writing programs and other courses.

Several of the University’s lecturers, students and graduates will discuss their published works or chair panel discussions in sessions across the weekend, including Professor Baden Offord, Dr Lynda Hawryluk, Martin Chatterton, Jim Hearn and Zacharey Jane.

See the Byron Bay Writers Festival website for the full program .

A select group of high school students will also be attending the Byron Bay Writers Festival as part of SCU’s Head-Start, Access and Inspiring Schools programs. The University has invited around 50 students, from Lismore in the south to the Gold Coast in the north, to the Festival. The group is made up of Head-Start and Access students, who are year 11 and 12 students undertaking a unit of university study while at secondary school. This opportunity has also been offered to high achieving students from SCU’s Inspiring Schools (schools who have a partnership with SCU).

The day includes a private session with award-winning journalist and writer Craig Sherborne, whose books include the memoir Hoi Polloi, and the novels The Amateur Science of Love and Tree Palace.

Photo: Jessie Cole.