Around the middle of each year, I put together what I call ‘The Spreadsheet of Doom’ in an effort to organise my calendar of literary and cultural events. This year didn’t look too bad, with only 30 or so commitments between July and November…
These included a long weekend at the Batlow Book Festival, ‘Doors to Other Worlds’, (mentioned in a previous post) with my partner in life and crime fiction, Andrew Nette. Andrew and I joined a select group of guests in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in NSW, including John & Ali Green, Robert Gott, Dan O’Malley and Elise McCune, with Sulari Gentill doubling as guest and host, together with her friend and co-director Sarah. We enjoyed superb hospitality, friendly and engaged audiences, and pleasing book sales — all good reminders of the joys of regional literary festivals.
Late-July/early August found me at a flurry of wonderful cultural events, from Bell Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (a pretty good production of a wonderful play) to Mama Mia: The Musical (boundless fun, with the audience on its feet, dancing in a shower of glitter) and a concert with Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan (seems we caught him on a good night). The icing on the (birthday) cake was my father taking me to see the Melbourne Theatre Company’s glorious production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. This turned out to be good preparation for my stint at the Melbourne Writers Festival where I interviewed, among others, actor and author William McInnes, who had a role in the play.
I was fortunate to be invited to chair three events at the Melbourne Writers Festival: a book club with Michelle de Kretser discussing Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower; a second book club with Sarah Krasnostein, discussing Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton; and a panel at the Animal Church called ‘Birds and Bees’, talking with Will McInnes about his novel The Birdwatcher and his stint as host of ABC TV’s Hello Birdy: A Boofhead’s Guide to Birdwatching, and UK author Helen Jukes about her lyrical memoir, A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings. The book club events, a new format for the festival, were highly enjoyable for both hosts and participants, creating an intimate space for the exchange of ideas and opinions over wine and cheese. And the ‘Birds and Bees’ session was a hoot — great buzz in the audience (#sorry #notsorry). I also attended some wonderful festival events as an audience member and danced the night away at the closing party.
In the midst of all that, I gave an author talk at the Coburg Library and had the great pleasure of awarding the Moreland Short Story Writing Competition prizes. I also helped launch the Margaret Egan Young Writers Award in the City of Hume, thanks to founder, Caroline van der Pol, author of Back to Broady. And last week I gave my first ever webinar, an online workshop on writing about place as part of my work for Writers Victoria (available on YouTube).
Next on the horizon is Dames versus Dicks Great Crime Writing Debate: Who does it better? part of St Kilda Writers Week, on Sunday September 30. On trial is the wit of some of Australia’s finest crime writers. The Dames and The Dicks argue each other’s case for Who does it better?, the question that lies at the criminal heart of the battle of the sexes.
And that covers pages 1 and 2 of The Spreadsheet of Doom. Page 3 coming soon!
What’s on your horizon?