Sunday 28th. Day 2 of the Writer’s Festival

A slower start this morning.

One of my favourite authors, Maggie O’Farrell is on first – but live streaming from the UK. You could pay a small fee and watch from home. So that’s what I’ve done.

Tonight we’ll watch from the comfort of the lounge with a glass of wine in hand.

I was on the bus by 9.55 for the 20 minute run into town. Marg lives in Highgate and it’s a quick run into the city. It’s a lovely area. Lots of trees, parks, sturdy houses with stone work and great gardens.

Again, a good choice of speakers. I started with Dr Julia Baird. She’s on The Drum and is a fine author. I read her biography of Queen Victoria but it’s her book Phosphorescence she was talking about today. It’s a memoir of finding joy when your world turns dark. It’s been described-as a book of wisdom and wonder when things don’t go right.

I’ve read it and loved it. So much to think about. It’s a book you would return to over and over.

Julia presents as a down to earth woman, obviously intelligent and a survivor of a terrible illness.

I loved her talk.

Next up was a choice of Malcolm Turnbull or Meg Mason.

I thought I’d heard enough over the years from Malcolm – though he is a fine speaker. I wanted to hear Meg Mason.

I’ve just finished her book Sorrow and Bliss. I’ve chosen it for BookClub so was keen to hear her speak.

Meg Mason on the right

She and fellow speaker Luke Horton spoke about their books where their main characters have mental health issues.

Luke Horton’s book The Fogging is about the disintegration of a relationship where the main character suffers from anxiety.

Megs books character, Martha has an undiagnosed mental health illness. She’s a complex character who is likeable but frustrating.

Meg read aloud from her book. It’s funny despite it’s subject. She talked about her character Martha, and I understood a little more about her.

Play this video.

The next session was about words. I read Pip Williams book The Dictionary of Words and loved it. It’s about Esme who is present in Oxford while her father and other lexicographers prepare the very first Oxford English Dictionary Set in 1901 it’s a fascinating tale of what goes into the dictionary and what is left out.

The other speaker Sue Butler worked for many years as editor of Australia’s Macquarie dictionary and saw the inclusion of many new words.

Under the trees… a world of words.

A great discussion. I should point out I regularly listen to a podcast called A Word in your Ear with Brisbane’s Roly Sussex. It’s a great discussion of words.

By now my afternoon of books was over. I was off to The Spire. My niece Vashti was performing in Saxism, a saxophone quartet. We had an hour sitting in a beautiful church in Beulah Park listening to great music. From Bach to John Denver.

Talented Vashti with her bass sax.

A great afternoon. Then home to listen to the live streamed interview of Maggie O’Farrell. Her book Hamnet, a story of Shakespeare and the son he lost in the great plague. Such a wonderful book. And the discussion with Maggie led by Anton Enus a newsreader from SBS was great.

More tomorrow.

Adelaide Writers Festival

Day 1 of the festival was off to a flying start. Early into the city by bus to the lovely Women’s Pioneer Memorial Gardens for the first talk at 9.30.

There are trees, so lots of shade and a big book tent for sales and of course lots of coffee.

The daily program is posted on a board. It changes depending on people’s travel and covid restrictions.

So much to choose from. I started with Kate Mildenhall, a lovely Melbourne author. She has had her second book The Mother Fault published and was speaking about it today. I haven’t read it – it’s described as a fast paced thriller! It’s her first one I’d like to read. Skylarking. An historical fiction novel set in 1830.

Next up was a session with Emily St John Mandel from NY and Laura McKay from NZ. So it was in the big screen. I was keen to hear Mandel. I’ve just read her book ‘The Glass House’, an unusual book about a Ponzi collapse and a missing woman! I enjoyed it. now I want to read her book Station Eleven about a Pandemic.

Laura McKays book The Animals in that Country. Both authors have written about a pandemic. Written before covid had started it provided lots of discussion. Both interesting speakers.

I took a break and walked up the hill past Government House to the State Library, Museum and the Art Gallery. Beautiful buildings.

Next up. The hugely popular Julia Gillard. Her book on Women in Leadership would be a good read. Since stepping away from politics. this former Prime Minister of Australia is making an impact in the area of Women empowerment. She spoke extremely well and had the huge crowd on their feet.

Fans stood in line for over an hour to get an autographed copy of Julia’s book.

Richard Fidler was next. I feel I know him , though I’ve never seen him live! His Conversations program in ABC radio is a favourite – he is a fantastic interviewer. Our own David Frost.

He was a band member of the Doug Anthony All Stars a very popular musical comedy band in the 80’s. He now writes books. Good books about places. His first two books , Saga Tales, is about Iceland, Ghost Empire, about Constantinople and today he talked about The Golden Maze about Prague.

Richard Fidler had the audience in the palm of his hand

As the sun moved I did too. Up closer to the stage. I’m amazed how many people are here. And with covid we are supposed to be social distancing but it’s difficult and many are left standing as seats have to be left vacant.

The last speaker – at 5pm is the energetic, enthusiastic, likeable Trent Dalton from Brisbane . What a down to earth charmer. A journalist now author, readers loved his first book Boy Swallows Universe. His new book All Our Shimmering Skies is receiving slightly mixed reviews from people I know who have read it. So I have put off reading it so far. I love his writing so much I want him to talk about it and then ………

The likeable Trent Dalton

Well, he has persuaded me to read it. He talked about the characters. How & why he shaped the story as he did.

He told some great stories Both about his book and people who have encouraged him. A great one about a mid 60’s pocket rocket at a book signing in Adelaide. During his book chat he said he was doubting his ability to write another book after Boys Swallows Universe. The lady stood and said ‘I have no questions. I just want to say get on with it. You can write. Just do it’. He later found out it was Mem Fox !

The session finished and I walked from the gardens along North Terrace to the area where the Fringe Festival takes place. Two separate park areas. One called Gluttony the other the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

Entrance to the Gluttony area
Delights! There are …..

In theses area there are lots of tents , small and large where a huge range of artists are performing. Amateur singers, comedians, burlesque dances……. you name it they are here. We needed tickets to a show to enter and most were already sold out. So Marg, my sister in law and I got the last two tickets for Evan Demarais. His show called ‘ A Canadian stuck in Australia’.

Aren’t we all stuck in Australia? He came out last year for the festival and has been here ever since! The first 29 mins were funny but after that he needed fresh material! Lots of fun poking at the audience!

Performing out of a shopping container!

After the show we sat in the garden bar / eating area and enjoyed the music and the atmosphere.

By now I was more than tired so headed home. I’ll be repeating it all tomorrow. Lucky me.

Adelaide here I come.

Exciting to have a ticket

My blog has suffered during covid!

I only blog when I travel and as there hasn’t been much travel in the past year I haven’t written much.

So here we go readers.

Today I fly to Adelaide to stay once again with my sister in law Marg. She has a lovely house in Fullerton and makes us very welcome. So welcome in fact, that when we went there for Steve’s birthday in October we invited ourselves down for the Festivals!

The Adelaide festival, the Fringe Festival and the Writers Festival.

Checkout the website

There is so much on its hard to know where to start.

The Adelaide Festival has lots of music , theatre, dance. The usual line up of overseas artists will not be there. But there will be lots of wonderful Australian talent.

The Fringe Festival goes for a month and features a huge variety of talent. Have a little read below.

Then there’s the Writers Festival. Being a keen reader I’m looking forward to seeing and listening to this line up. Go to the link to see the day line up.

Tell me in the comments who you would like to see.

I recently read Honeybee by Craig Silvey. A terrific moving read.

Trent Dalton has been a favourite of mine as a feature writer for years. His All Our Shimmering Skies follows his very successful Boy Swallows Universe.

Kate Grenville’s A Room made of Leaves, I loved. And Meg Mason’s Sorrow & Bliss was very good. A mixture of sadness at the mental health of the main character and the wit that linked the characters.

I’ve only named a few here but I’m very excited to be going. We thought we’d be at the Edinburgh Festival last year but that was off. This is going to be just as much a treat.

So look for my updates and come along with me.