Three days with story creators and idea makers at Australia's largest regional literary event.
Byron Writers Festival 2019 (2-4 August) has revealed a powerful and inspiring program featuring more than 140 Australian and international speakers spanning fiction, memoir, crime, environment, society, politics, poetry, art, comedy and music. Festival audiences can enjoy more than 120 different sessions over three days at Elements of Byron Resort as well as writers’ workshops, a program for children and satellite events in venues across the Northern Rivers region.
“Now more than ever our world needs writers, environmentalists, poets, commentators, politicians and artists who together can shape stories of hope, courage and change,” says Festival Director Edwina Johnson. “Now in its 23rd year, Byron Writers Festival embraces audiences and authors from far and wide for three unforgettable days that celebrate the power of words and storytelling, creating lasting memories for all who attend.”
Fiction lovers will be delighted with a line-up that includes celebrated writers Markus Zusak (Bridge of Clay), Gail Jones (The Death of Noah Glass), Toni Jordan (The Fragments) and Jock Serong (Preservation). The impressive roll-call of award-winning novelists continues with Melissa Lucashenko (Too Much Lip), Dominic Smith (The Electric Hotel), Tony Birch (The White Girl ) and Tara June Winch (The Yield). Master crime writer Michael Robotham and one of Australia’s most successful authors Di Morrissey will also feature in conversations with ABC TV’s Jennifer Byrne.
International guests include former anti-mafia prosecutor and one of Italy’s best-selling crime authors Gianrico Carofiglio, PEN international president and Gun Love author Jennifer Clement, former LA Times war correspondent and author of Women’s Work Megan K. Stack, New York Times best-selling author of Pachinko Min Jin Leeand Indian poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi. Kurdish-Iranian refugee and award-winning author of No Friend But The Mountains Behrouz Boochani will appear via live stream from Manus Island where he has been detained since 2013.
Revered UK academic and philosopher A.C. Grayling will deliver the annual Thea Astley Address on the The Crisis of Democracy. UK scientist Julia Shaw will unlock the intricacies of criminal psychology with Making Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side, US writer and musician Claire L. Evans will reveal an untold tale of women who made the internet with Broad Band and one of the world’s foremost experts on forest fires Stephen Pyne will share his vast knowledge of fire and environmental history.
Politics and Commentary
Former Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd (The PM Years) headlines a notable line-up of politicians that includes Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young (En Garde), former Greens senator Scott Ludlam and former leader of the Australian Democrats and founding chair of Our Watch Natasha Stott Despoja (On Violence).
Writers and revered commentators Stan Grant (Australia Day and On Identity), Kerry O’Brien (Kerry O’Brien: A Memoir), Peter Greste (The First Casualty) and Leigh Sales (Any Ordinary Day) will unpack the politics of the day as well as discuss their own books.
The 2019 Festival will enthral audiences with inspiring real-life stories from former World Vision CEO Tim Costello (A Lot with a Little), Roman Quaedvlieg whose explosive memoir Tour de Force outlines his journey from street cop to Australian Border Force chief, Vicki Laveau-Harvie whose blackly funny memoir of a dysfunctional family The Erractics won the 2019 Stella Prize and Caro Llewellyn with her powerful story of a world shattered and a life remade (Diving Into Glass).
Carly Findlay (Say Hello) will challenge assumptions about what it is like to have a visibly different appearance and Phil Brown (The Kowloon Kid) and Andrew Stafford (Something To Believe In) will reveal how music has shaped their lives. Award-winning investigative journalists Kate McClymont (Dead Man Walking) and Matthew Condon (The Night Dragon) will thrill with tales of betrayal and corruption in the crime underworld.
Clementine Ford (Boys Will Be Boys), Ginger Gorman (Troll Hunting), John Marsden (The Art of Growing Up), Gabbie Stroud (Teacher), David Gillespie (Teen Brain), Ranjana Srivastava (A Better Death) and Benjamin Law (Growing Up Queer in Australia) will lead important conversations about the issues we face in contemporary life. The ABC’s Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski and journalist Tracey Spicer are among the many popular presenters on hand to expertly host inspiring and compelling conversations with Festival guests.
Environment & Science
Leading writer on climate change, palaeontologist and conservationist Tim Flannery will discuss the first 100 million years of European history. Bruce Pascoe (Young Dark Emu), Alice Gorman (Dr Space Junk vs The Universe) and filmmaker Damon Gameau (2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration) will consider environmental solutions. The Gourmet Farmer’s Matthew Evans will bring gastronomic passion and forensic research to the question of how to be an ethical carnivore while Sophie Cunningham, Harry Sadler and Lisa-ann Gershwin and will talk trees, birds and jellyfish. At the angular end of the Festival the wonderful Eddie Woo will crunch numbers with Adam Spencer in a session called Amazing Mathematics.
Art, Comedy, TV and Music
Celebrated Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens will join Bundjalung artist and writer Bronwyn Bancroft to share stories embedded in landscape. Comedians Hung Le (The Crappiest Refugee) and Mandy Nolan (Women Like Us) will ponder whether everything is up for grabs in comedy and Lambs of God author Marele Day will trace the book’s journey from the page to a major television series about to screen on Foxtel.
Byron Bay’s love affair with surfing and music combine with bluesman Ash Grunwald discussing his first book Surf by Day, Jam by Night – a collection of candid interviews he did with15 of the world’s top surfer–musicians including Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Jack Johnson. On Sunday audiences will then get to raise their own voices in communal song with Shire Choir, a rousing Festival closer.
Kids and Families
On Sunday, the Kids Big Day Out program is full of fun and creativity guaranteed to ignite the imaginations of children and young readers. On hand to entertain and delight are author and illustrator Alison Lester, Tony Flowers, Morris Gleitzman, John Flanagan, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Zoe and Georgia Norton Lodge and Isobelle Carmody among many others.
The Festival has partnered with venues throughout the region to present an exciting range of Satellite Events including a literary breakfast with Clementine Ford at Harvest Newrybar, a performance with Ailsa Piper at Lismore Regional Gallery, conversations with Dominic Smith at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Tim Costello at The Byron at Byron and Matthew Evans at the Beach Hotel, as well as the Byron heat of The Australian Poetry Slam at Byron Library.
Sunday Locals Tickets
Residents of Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed council areas can access special $80 Sunday Locals Tickets, supported by Stone & Wood. Purchasers will need to present proof of address and are limited to a maximum of two tickets per person. Sunday Locals Tickets are a limited offer and will be available until sold out. Regular priced 3-Day and 1-Day Passes are also available.
Byron Writers Festival 2019 takes place 2-4 August in the beautiful grounds of Elements of Byron Resort. For the full program and tickets visit www.byronwritersfestival.com/festival.
Byron Writers Festival 2019
Festival Dates: 2-4 August 2019
2019 Writers and Presenters
Nicole Abadee, Sarah Armstrong, Amal Awad, Sunil Badami, Bronwyn Bancroft, Paul Barclay, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Tony Birch, John Birmingham, Jesse Blackadder, Paul Bongiorno, Behrouz Boochani, Phil Brown, Jennifer Byrne, Barbara Carmichael, Isobelle Carmody, Gianrico Carofiglio, Gabrielle Chan, Melanie Cheng, Jennifer Clement, Matthew Condon, Maddison Connaughton, Tim Costello, Sophie Cunningham, Marele Day, Karla Dickens, Tishani Doshi, Jill Eddington, Sara El Sayed, Russell Eldridge, Claire L. Evans, Matthew Evans, Richard Fidler, Carly Findlay, John Flanagan, Tim Flannery, Tony Flowers, Clementine Ford, Karen Foxlee, Antony Funnell, Damon Gameau, Simi Genzuik, Lisa-ann Gershwin, David Gillespie, Morris Gleitzman, Alice Gorman, Ginger Gorman, Stan Grant, A.C. Grayling, Peter Greste, Ash Grunwald, Chris Hanley, Sarah Hanson-Young, Lynda Hawryluk, Ashley Hay, Jess Hill, Chloe Hooper, Shep Huntly, Daniel James, Zacharey Jane, Erik Jensen, Gail Jones, Toni Jordan, Sarah Kanowski, Samia Khatun, Sarah Lambert, Christina Larmer, Vicki Laveau-Harvie, Benjamin Law, Hung Le, Angela Ledgerwood, Debbie Lee, Min Jin Lee, David Leser, Alison Lester, S.L. Lim, Caro Llewellyn, Zanni Louise, Melissa Lucashenko, Scott Ludlam, William MacNeil, Alex Mankiewicz, John Marsden, Kate McClymont, Phillipa McGuinness, Miles Merrill, Karen Middleton, Rosemarie Milsom, Evelyn Ida Morris, Di Morrissey, Rick Morton, Sisonke Msimang, Melanie Mununggurr-Williams, Joanna Nell, Mandy Nolan, Georgia Norton Lodge, Zoë Norton Lodge, Patrick Nunn, Kerry O'Brien, Kristina Olsson, Mick O'Regan, Bruce Pascoe, Mark Pesce, Ailsa Piper, Helen Pitt, Stephen Pyne, Roman Quaedvlieg, Hannie Rayson, Michael Robotham, Kevin Rudd, Harry Saddler, Omar Sakr, Leigh Sales, Margot Saville, Julianne Schultz, Nathan Scolaro, Jock Serong, Julia Shaw, Joanne Shoebridge, Adam Shoemaker, Dominic Smith, Jeff Sparrow, Adam Spencer, Tracey Spicer, Ranjana Srivastava, Megan K. Stack, Andrew Stafford, David Stavanger, Jason Stephens, Natasha Stott Despoja, Gabbie Stroud, Adam Suckling, Mark Swivel, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Omid Tofighian, Barbara Toner, Kate Veitch, Michael Veitch, Don Watson, Peter Watt, Jessica White, Debbie Whitmont, Michael Williams, Geordie Williamson, Tara June Winch, Eddie Woo, Clare Wright, Nevo Zisin, Markus Zusak.