SWF logoIt’s only one week until the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Who is excited? Anyone? Me!

Ok, so I have put aside 4 days next week from my highly paid writing gig (you all know I’m kidding right!) to go to more than a few events at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I am feeling very fortunate to be able to attend. I tell myself its necessary as a writer to stay current with the industry, and if I get to go with my friends, fabulous, and if I get to have a glass of wine or two and maybe party at the cheeky Festival Club, even better.

But really, it is necessary sometimes to get out of my chair, out of the library and out of my trackie dacks and go out into the world and have a few days taking in all the wonderful things about reading and writing and everything that goes along with that. Each year at the Sydney Writers Festival I learn more about the craft of writing, listen to well-known writers talk about their experiences and their new books, new writers talk about their debut novels and immerse myself in the industry I hope one day to be a part of. Fingers crossed, but even if I never get there at least I will have a good time on the way!

Read below for a very small selection of free and ticketed events for adults and children. There are over 300 events – so check out the Sydney Writers’ Festival website for more details. For those folks living in the Blue Mountains – check out the Varuna Sydney Writers’ Festival Program here.

Thursday 22nd May 10am – 11am: Walsh Bay, Sydney FREE EVENT

On Craft: Storytelling and the Storyteller  

Hearn,-LianLian Hearn illustrates the craft of writing with all its thrills, perils and disappointments.

Lian Hearn’s well-loved Tales of the Otori series, beginning with Across The Nightingale Floor, has sold over four million copies internationally. Her recent novel, Blossoms And Shadows, about life in Japan in the 1850s, also sold widely around the world. Her most recent release is The Storyteller and His Three Daughters.


Thursday 22nd May 4.30pm – 5.30pm: Walsh Bay FREE EVENT

Women’s Fiction: Hear some of the best women’s fiction in Australia today.




Hear some of the best women’s fiction in Australia today. Populated with strong characters, the stories by Judy Nunn, Susan Duncan and Anita Heiss capture our imagination and keep us wanting more. They sit down to talk with Fiona Harari about their latest novels and the secrets of their writing success.


Friday 23rd May 10am – 11am: Walsh Bay, Sydney FREE EVENT 

On Craft: The Quest – What is required to create story that transforms? Kathryn Heyman shares how stories are made.

Heyman,-KathrynWhat is story for? Why do we need it? And what are the elements needed to create story that transforms? A well structured narrative – in fiction or non-fiction – gives a glimpse of transformation, not just for the characters, but for the reader. Acclaimed novelist Kathryn Heyman works through elements of narrative structure to explore how story is made, how it impacts on your life and why it matters now more than ever. Chair: Elizabeth Johnstone.

Kathryn Heyman is the author of five novels, including The Accomplice and Captain Starlight’s Apprentice, published internationally and in translation. She has received an Arts Council of England Writers Award, the Wingate and the Southern Arts Awards, and been nominated for the Orange Prize, the Scottish Writer of the Year Award, the Edinburgh Fringe Critic’s Awards, the Kibble Prize, and the West Australian Premier’s Book Awards. She has written several radio plays for BBC radio, including adaptations of her own work. Her fifth novel, The Floodline was published in 2013.

Friday 23rd May 1.30 – 2.30pm: Walsh Bay, Sydney (Tickets: $20/$14) 

Thomas Keneally: A Life of Books

Keneally,-TomThis year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Keneally’s first book, The Place at Whitton. Since then he has won the Miles Franklin Award twice, and the Man Booker Prize for Schindler’s Ark. Join Peter Pierce as he speaks with Thomas about his spectacular body of work in this celebration of the life and work of one of Australia’s greatest and most beloved living writers.


Friday 23rd May 6.30pm – 7.30pm: Penrith City Library (Tickets: $5)

An Evening with Judy Nunn

Nunn,-Judy-c-Milen-BoubbovThe beloved Judy Nunn, whose books have sold over one million books worldwide will share her new bestseller Elianne, a sweeping story of wealth, power, privilege and betrayal, set on a grand sugar cane plantation in Queensland.

Judy Nunn’s career has been long, illustrious and multifaceted. After combining her internationally successful acting career with scriptwriting for television and radio, Judy decided in the 90s to turn her hand to prose. Her first three novels, The Glitter Game, Centre Stage and Araluen, set respectively in the worlds of television, theatre and film, became instant bestsellers, and the rest is history, quite literally in fact. Her subsequent bestsellers, Kal, Beneath The Southern Cross, Territory, Pacific, Heritage, Floodtide, Maralinga and Tiger Men confirm Judy’s position as one of Australia’s leading fiction writers. Her most recent book is Elianne.

Saturday 24th May 11.30am – 12.30pm: Walsh Bay, Sydney FREE EVENT

Once Upon a Time: Myth and Fairytale. 

Forsyth,-KateJoin Cornelia Funke, Vikram Chandra and Tony Birch as they explore both myth and the enchanting world of fairytales. What are the tales that preoccupy, entertain and guide culture today in the land of Oz? How did they make their way here? What has happened to them over time?

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at seven, and is now the internationally bestselling, award-winning author of 30 books. Voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, her adult novels include Dancing on Knives, The Wild Girl, and Bitter Greens, called ‘the best fairy-tale retelling since Angela Carter’. Her children’s books include Two Selkie Tales from Scotland, The Gypsy Crown, and The Puzzle Ring. Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of Australia’s first published children’s book.


Cornelia Funke started as a children’s book illustrator, but started writing when she discovered that telling her own stories was more fun than illustrating other people’s. Cornelia is the internationally best-selling and award-winning author of the Inkheart fantasy trilogy, as well as more than 40 other books. The Inkheart trilogy was named by the US National Education Association as one of the 100 best books for children. Her most recent books, Reckless and Fearless, are for older children and teenagers. A native of Germany, she lives in Los Angeles with her family and a crazy dog named Luna.

Saturday 24th May 1.30pm – 2.30pm: Walsh Bay, Sydney FREE EVENT

Alexis Wright: The Swan Book


Miles Franklin Award winner Alexis Wright brings us a story of hope amid despair in her most recent novel. The Swan Book is set in the future, around hundred years from now in a time when the land is fundamentally altered by climate change, and Aboriginal people are still living under the Northern Territory intervention. Alexis combines energy, humour, myth, legend and fairytale in this book of intelligence and originality. She speaks with Geordie Williamson.

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the Southern highlands of the Gilf of Carpentaria. her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek, and the novels Plains of Promise, and Carpentaria, which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queenslands Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, Chine, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre. Her most recent book is The Swan Book.

Friday 23rd May 6pm – 7pm: Chatswood (Tickets: Adults $19 / Children (under 16 $14 / Family $55)

Saturday 24th May 4pm – 5pm: Parramatta Riverside Theatre (Tickets: Adults $19 / Children (under 16 $14 / Family $55)

Dav Pilkey: Captain Underpants Ahoy

Pilkey,-Dav-c-KarynCarpenterBakerFor the first time in Australia, join one of the world’s bestselling and most popular writers and illustrators for children – Dav Pilkey. Join Dav for a fun-filled session about the inspiration behind his Captain Underpants series, including how he became a writer and artist, and what’s coming next! There’ll also be an opportunity to see Dav draw his famous characters from his series, plus you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.

Sunday 25th May

Family Days at the Festival: The Big Top for Little People, Walsh Bay Sydney 

10am- 3pm: Craftmania – Get messy! Get Creative! Get into our crazy craft area! There will be workshops and colouring in and heaps of fun activities to make and do ALL DAY.

10.30am – 3.30pm: Storytelling Room – Pull up a cushion, snuggle in and let your favourite picture-book writers read you their stories.

11.15am – 12pm: Illustrator Battle Rounds: Prepare to Draw It’s the greatest drawing showdown this side of the harbour. Yes, it’s Illustrator Battle Rounds. And there can only be one winner.

3pm – 3.30pm: Learn to draw like Captain Underpants – For the first time in Australia, join Dav Pilkey, writer and illustrator of the bestselling Captain Underpants series, for a super-awesome adventure of Draw-a-Rama!!

1.45pm – 2.45pm: Comedy Storytelling Hour – Remember when you farted during maths and hoped nobody noticed, but they all did? How embarrassing – for you! But what about the time you pulled a prank on your best friend and everybody thought you were hilarious? Come along and kill yourself laughing at the ridiculous things Tristan Bancks, Damon Young, Oliver Phommavanh and James O’Loghlin have done to crack themselves up and other people.

All event details and author captions from the Sydney Writers’ Festival website.

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