From Newcastle to Ballarat, a Week of First Things!

Jason and I went north this past weekend for the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival. It was a fantastic event, brimming with many interesting, intelligent, enthusiastic writers and readers. The panels we saw were at times thought-provoking, at times humourous, and the “Nightmare Australia” session — which featured the indomitable Jenny Blackford throwing tricky questions at Jason and myself — was enormous fun. We’re hoping to go back next year just to hang around and catch as many sessions as we can. Jason, of course, has written up the festivalmuch more extensively over on his blog, so do go and have a read. And if you would like to hear the wonderful, snarky, hilarious opening night speech given by Miriam Margolyes, the Newcastle Herald has posted the audio online.

Back in Ballarat, we’ve had our first bit of publicity as Ballaratian authors, rather than Melbournians. The Courier ran a nice little piece about our award nominations with quite a respectable photo of the both of us. Even surrounded by the Fortress of Unpacked Book Boxes — that’s my To Be Read shelf behind us; the only books as yet liberated — it’s starting to feel like we’ve made a proper home here. I can’t wait until we’re finally settled in and actually have time to explore the area. There’s a second hand and collectible bookshop by the name of The Known World — complete with in-house espresso coffee bar! — that I’m just itching to check out. Will report back in due course …

And somehow, sometime soon, I’m going to have to get back to the wordsmithing. My brain, she is bursting.

Jason Nahrung and Kirstyn McDermott
Photo Credit: Justin Whitelock (The Courier)