Lionel Shriver at the Melbourne Writers Festival


I’m almost reluctant to write about Lionel Shriver’s closing address on Sunday night at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Reluctant because her speech was dense with insight, sound-bites, and stuff to make you really think hard, and I’d hate to misquote or misrepresent her in any way.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Shriver speak, do next time she visits your neck of the woods. She is, without question, one of the most compelling and powerful authors – no, people – that I’ve ever heard speak. Continue reading

A glee of author talks

Firstly, what’s the collective noun for a bunch of author talks? A glee? A yay? A make-Kate-very-happy? Anyway, in the past week, I’ve been to three – that deserves a collective noun.

Secondly, I have a half-a-dozen posts in my drafts folder about author talks I have attended. I never get to the ‘publish’ stage. Can’t really say why – I suspect that I leave it a week or so and then feel unsure about the fine detail of what was said – I wouldn’t want to misquote someone.

So, three author talks in one post – my favourite bits of what Rosalie Ham, Hanya Yanagihara and Jonathan Franzen had to say. Continue reading

Let’s talk (a top ten)

Last week, Katie of Bookish Tendencies wrote a post about attending her first author talk (Lauren Fox talking about Days of Awe, so I’m jealous, obvs). Katie asked fellow bloggers for a few pointers on being “…not such an awkward dork…” at book signing time (her words, not mine). I don’t have any tips but her post did make me think about author talks I’ve been to. And it’s many. Because I’m a bit of an author-event tart (I’ll blame the fact that I have lots of opportunities through events such as the Melbourne Writers Festival and regular author appearances at my local book shop, Readings).

So purely for my own records, I’ve put together a top ten list – five of the best author talks I’ve been to – Continue reading

Dave Eggers at the Melbourne Writers Festival

I managed to get to a couple of events at the Melbourne Writers Festival last week. Ideally I would have shared my thoughts immediately after each session, while all that ace-ness was still fresh in my mind but unfortunately, much of my brain space was taken up with studying for the exam I had on Monday. So, first up, here are my takeaway messages from Dave Eggers.

I love Dave Eggers a bit more than I already did previously when, slightly disoriented at the start of the talk he said he’d only arrived in Australia yesterday and it was “…a million o’clock…” for him. From that statement alone, I’m confident he also recognises eleventy-billion as a number. And just to lock-in the love, there was a baby in the audience, whose nappy he signed. Actually, the whole thing kinda felt like meeting a rock star… Continue reading

Wine, dinner and listening to the lovely Hannah Kent


On Friday afternoon, I mentioned on Twitter that while people may have top plans for their evening, they wouldn’t be as good as mine. Because I was going to hear Hannah Kent speak about Burial Rites. At Montalto Winery on the Mornington Peninsula. With a delicious dinner and a glass or two of fizz. So yeah, I won.

The evening was organised by The Wheeler Centre, as part of their Good Conversation Great Wine series. After we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, author Jo Case introduced Hannah, naturally making mention of the worldwide success of Burial Rites.

Jo began by asking Hannah about the parallels between Iceland and Australia and although they’re not immediately obvious, Hannah noted the similarities in the landscapes – “In both countries, the landscape is stunning, alien and hostile. The hostility coexists with the beauty.” Continue reading

Graeme Simsion and The Rosie Project


Last night I had the pleasure of popping along to the Fitzroy Town Hall to hear Graeme Simsion talk about his worldwide bestseller, The Rosie Project.

As I have mentioned, The Rosie Project is the only book I’ve read this year that I’d recommend to everybody – it’s very funny, it’s romantic (but certainly not in a schmaltzy way) and there’s a few twists to keep you reading right until the very last page.

Simsion’s path to publishing The Rosie Project was unusual. Although he had always harbored a secret desire to write a novel (and in fact read Hemingway and Miller in his twenties and thought, ‘Okay, I can do that!’, only to discover that it was not so simple), he embarked on a career in IT. And then he read a life-changing book – The Unkindest Cut by Joe Queenan. It’s a true account of trying to make a movie on a $7000 budget. Simsion, excited by the thought of doing the same, persuaded his wife (who is an author) to make one of her stories into a movie. Simsion set about writing the screenplay, filming it and eventually showing it in Melbourne’s Kino cinema. The exercise cost more than $7000… Continue reading