Byron Writers Festival Announces Full Program

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Byron Writers Festival 2018 (3-5 August) has announced a thrilling program featuring 140 writers, thinkers and commentators who will converge in Byron Bay for Australia’s largest regional literary event. The three day 2018 Festival of panels and conversations will unfold across six stages at the stunning beachside Festival site, and will be complemented by diverse writers’ workshops and evening feature events in Byron Bay and the wider Northern Rivers region.

Photo by Kurt Petersen

‘The Byron Writers Festival program seeks to inspire, engage and cultivate conversations between our writer guests and avid audiences,’ said Festival Director, Edwina Johnson. ‘This year the stories in our program will take us from the wilds of New Zealand to North Korea, Tuscany and back home to near-by Goonengerry. We traverse much territory including anxiety, crime, the Frontier Wars, the Anthropocene, science, comedy, immigration, the wellness industry, and poetry. We explore music, whales and romance and debate whether reading can make you happier. Writers will nominate the books that changed them, and will examine how to shape life into story. For three days we celebrate emerging writers and literary giants from near and far.’

2018 Highlights

Local Authors  

Many exceptional writers living in the Northern Rivers will be featured at this year’s Festival including literary luminary Robert Drewe who will launch his new collection of short stories The True Colour of the Sea at the Festival, Jessie Cole author of the acclaimed and heartbreaking memoir Staying, and Southern Cross University Lecturer Gregory Smith who came Out of the Forest after spending more than 10 years surviving in near total isolation in the forest of Goonengerry.   

They join Sixty Seconds novelist Jesse Blackadder, debut novelist Jarrah Dundler who has caught the attention of the literary world with his devastating portrait of youth, rage and tenderness in Hey Brother, and untiring advocate for gun control and children’s rights Walter Mikac. Also featured are contemporary women’s fiction writer Lisa Walker, award-winning climate scientist and writer Joelle Gergis, Fergus & Delilah children’s authors Míša Alexander and Erin Knutt and Emma and Tom Lane who will release a book later in the year about their experience of creating local enterprise, The Farm.                                                      

Locally based Powderfinger front man Bernard Fanning and Women Like Uscomedians Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs will also bring music, laughter and delight to this year’s Festival.  

International Guests  

Among many esteemed guests travelling from across the globe to Byron Bay are best-selling UK authors Matt Haig and Hannah Richell, award-winning author of The Reader Bernhard Schlink (Germany) and celebrated poet and UK based broadcaster Lemn Sissay. They join inspirational Woman in the Wilderness Miriam Lancewood (The Netherlands), and North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee whose memoir The Girl with Seven Names is a global bestseller.

Fiction  

Just some of the highlight Australian writers include Tom Keneally, Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty, Melissa Lucashenko with her much anticipated new novel Too Much Lip, award-winning novelists Josephine Wilson and Steven Carroll, and debut novelist Future D. Fidel. Crime lovers will be delighted with a line-up that includes Candice Fox, Dervla McTiernan and Jane Harper whose book The Dry has been requisitioned by Reese Witherspoon’s film production company. Matters of the heart are covered with romance best-sellers Rachael Johns, Victoria Purman and Christine Wells.  

Inspiring True Stories  

The 2018 Byron Writers Festival will reverberate with inspiring, heartbreaking and hopeful real-life stories from young Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif (Daring to Drive), Bri Lee whose recently released memoir Eggshell Skull tells of her journey through the Australian legal system as a survivor of sexual assault and Danger Music author Eddie Ayres whose travels through Afghanistan teaching the cello to children led to a self-discovery almost too hard to bear.   

Also sharing the stories we need to hear are Asylum Seeker Resource Centre founder Kon Karapanagiotidis (Power of Hope), Jessie Cole (Staying), Sarah Krasnostein (The Trauma Cleaner), Sarah Wilson (First, We Make the Beast Beautiful), Dr Anita Heiss (Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia) and acclaimed historian Henry Reynolds (This Whispering in Our Hearts Revisited). Beloved broadcaster Richard Fidler will take his turn in the hot seat with Saga Land co-author Kári Gíslason transporting us on a Viking journey to the edge of world.  

Politics and Society  

Byron Writers Festival will bring together a formidable contingent of inspirational and outspoken women in politics including Tanya Plibersek, Jacqui Lambie, Christine Milne, Australia’s first federal female parliamentarian of Muslim faith Anne Aly and former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs who will deliver the annual Thea Astley Address.  

Expect more debate, discussion and revelations with foreign correspondent Peter Greste(Freeing Peter), who spent 400 days in an Egyptian jail, former Cabinet and Foreign Minister Gareth Evans (Incorrigible Optimist), Warren Mundine (Black + White: Race, Politics and Changing Australia), Clive Hamilton (Silent Invasion), Louise Milligan (Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell) and Professor Jenny Hocking (The Dismissal Dossier) in conversation with Kerry O’Brien.   

Environment & Science  

Distinguished guests at the forefront of contemporary discussions about science, technology and the state of our planet include Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, leading science writer Elizabeth Finkel, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific and The Coal Truth author David Ritter, and regenerative farmer Charles Massy, author of Call of the Reed Warbler. Marine biologist, pioneering researcher and mother of two daughters raised at sea Micheline Jenner will tell us all about The Secret Life of Whales.  

Art, Music & Comedy  

Acclaimed Australian visual artist Tracey Moffatt will deliver a talk about her artistic practice while You Am I front man and Detours memoirist Tim Rogers and Powderfinger front man Bernard Fanning will open up their songbooks.   

Kitty Flanagan comes clean about Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies, comedians Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs perform the smash hit that inspired their book Women Like Us, The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen will tell us why Comedy is the most addictive thing you’ll ever do and Future Tense presenter Antony Funnell reveals his comedic side with So Far, So Good.

Poetry  

Lovers of poetry and spoken word will be delighted with a line-up that includes award-winning poet Shastra Deo with her first book The Agonist and 2017 Poetry Slam co-champion Jesse Oliver joining Lemn Sissay (UK), NZ Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh and Courtney Sina Meredith (NZ). The Byron heat of 2018 Poetry Slam will also be held at Byron Bay Library.  

Children and Young Adults  

Kids Big Day Out on Festival Sunday with local MC Shep Huntly offers a jam-packed, fun-filled program for the whole family with a huge array of activities for kids of all ages. Ready to delight will be Oliver Phommavanh (Natural Born Loser and Thai-riffic!), Lian Tanner the best-selling author of children's fantasy adventure trilogy The Keepers, and Funny Kid for President author Matt Stanton amongst many others.

Locals Tickets  

This year Byron Writers Festival is looking after locals with $80 Sunday Locals Tickets, a saving of over $50. Available to residents of Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed council areas, tickets are only available for purchase from the Festival office in Byron Bay during weekday business hours (Level 1, 28 Jonson Street). Purchasers will need to present proof of address and are limited to a maximum of two tickets per person. This is a limited release offer and will be available until sold out.

Feature Events  

The Festival has partnered with local arts organisations throughout the region to present an exciting range of Feature Events well worth an excursion, including live performances by Ailsa Piper and Kate McDowell in Lismore, Liane Moriarty in conversation at Lennox Head, and Draw Your Weapons author Sarah Sentilles from the UK at Art in the Pub in Mullumbimby.   

These events complement Feature Events taking place in Byron Bay including The Coal Truth: David Ritter in conversation with Dan Fitzgerald at the Beach Hotel and Peter Greste in conversation with Jane Hutcheon at the Byron at Byron Resort & Spa. Byron Theatre will feature The Saturday Paper’s Bedtime Stories with MC Tim Rogers as well as Richard Fidler in conversation with Lemn Sissay (Friday) and Sarah Krasnostein (Saturday). Patrons are advised to book early for these separately ticketed, in-demand events.

Byron Writers Festival 2018 will unfold from 3-5 August in the beautiful grounds of Elements of Byron resort. 
3-Day passes, 1-Day passes, Feature Events and Workshops are on sale now at byronwritersfestival.com (02) 6685 5115.

2018 WRITERS & PRESENTERS

Nicole Abadee, Michael Ableman, Alex Adsett, Míša Alexander, Ali Alizadeh, Manal al-Sharif, Anne Aly, Sarah Armstrong, Eddie Ayres, Sunil Badami, Tristan Bancks, Paul  Barclay, Caroline Baum, Tony Birch, Jesse Blackadder, Mark Brandi, Ellen Briggs, Ellen Broad, Phil Brown, Jane Camens, Steven Carroll, Kylie Chan, Jo Chandler, Anna Clark, Allan Clarke, Alan Close, Jessie Cole, Matthew Condon, Robin Cutler, Trent Dalton, Marele Day, Michelle de Kretser, Brigid Delaney, Richard Denniss, Shastra Deo, Ceridwen Dovey, Robert Drewe, Jarrah Dundler, Jill Eddington, Eskil Engdal, Gareth Evans, Bernard Fanning, Future D. Fidel, Richard Fidler, Elizabeth Finkel, Alan Finkel, Kitty Flanagan, Candice Fox, Phillip Frazer, Antony Funnell, Steven Gale, Joëlle Gergis, Carey Gillam, Moreno Giovannoni, Kári Gíslason, Peter Greste, Matt Haig, Clive Hamilton, Chris Hammer, Chris Hanley, Andrew Hansen, Jane Harper, Lynda Hawryluk, Ashley Hay, Anita Heiss, Ben Hobson, Jenny Hocking, Shep Huntly, Jane Hutcheon, Zacharey Jane, Micheline  Jenner, Rachael Johns, Lloyd Jones, Sarah Kanowski, Kon Karapanagiotidis, Delta Kay, Tom Keneally, Erin Knutt, Campbell Korff, Sarah Krasnostein, Laura Kroetsch, Jacqui Lambie, Miriam Lancewood, Emma & Tom Lane, Hyeonseo Lee, Bri Lee, Deborah Lee, Hans Lovejoy, Melissa Lucashenko, William MacNeil, Selina Tusitala Marsh , Charles Massy, Dervla McTiernan, Courtney Sina Meredith, Miles Merrill, Karen Middleton, Walter Mikac, Barney & Kada Miller, Louise Milligan, Christine Milne, Rosemarie Milsom, Tracey Moffatt, Liane Moriarty, Warren Mundine, Mandy Nolan, Kerry O’Brien, Jesse Oliver, Mick O'Regan, Oliver Phommavanh, Ailsa Piper, Tanya Plibersek, Victoria Purman, Jennifer Rayner, Henry Reynolds, Hannah Richell, David Ritter, Jessica Roberts, Tim Rogers, Kjetil Saeter, Bernhard Schlink, Nathan Scolaro, Sarah Sentilles, Adam Shoemaker, Lemn Sissay, Gregory Smith, Matt Stanton, Adam Suckling, Lian Tanner, Margaret Throsby, Gillian Triggs, Elise Valmorbida, Lisa Walker, Christine Wells, Debbie Whitmont, Kate Wild, Michael Williams, Sarah  Wilson, Josephine Wilson, Chris Womersley, Bernard Zuel.

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