I’m lucky enough to call Byron Bay home. It’s a wonderful place for a writer to live. Lots of great spots to sit and write that offer fabulous views, great coffee and an eclectic mix of people just to keep things interesting.
But Byron offers writers (and readers) something else very special. We have our own writers’ festival. The Byron Bay Writers’ began in 1997 with just fifty writers. This year’s Festival will feature over 100 writers over three days.
The 2013 program is yet to be launched by returning Festival Director Jeni Caffin, but so far we know about two literary legends, the Booker Prize winners DBC Pierre and Peter Carey. MJ Hyland is also coming back. Her second novel Carry Me Down was shortlisted for the 2006 Booker Prize. Other authors that have been announced include Steve Bisley, Robert Drewe, Richard Gill, Kerry Greenwood, Anita Heiss, Cate Kennedy, Paul Kelly, Judith Lucy, Melissa Lucashenko, Maxine McKew, Archie Roach. There will also be lots of local Northern Rivers' talent.
One of the best things about the Festival is that you pay one ticket price and you can stay the whole day. How you plan your day is completely up to you as you move between the marquees, which feature the talent. There’s amazing sculptures to enjoy, wonderful food, book launches, an onsite bookshop, author signings and so much more. The week prior to the Festival also features an array of fabulous writing workshops, so you can make it a writing holiday!
If you have a completed manuscript, think about entering the Pitch Perfect competition. The top six submissions are invited to pitch their book idea to a panel of publishers on Saturday 3 August at the Festival. I’ve been to the last couple of Pitch Perfect events. The quality of the pitches is very high and can lead to a publishing contract. A friend of mine was contracted from pitching at this event. The deadline is for Pitch Perfect is Wednesday 3 July, so get polishing.
A few years ago I managed the publicity for the Festival and met so many amazing people (I still have Kamahl on speed dial from his poetry debut). Authors at the Byron Festival mingle very freely with the public and there are lots of opportunities to chat. The whole event is very relaxed but full of brilliant literary discourse.
If you have kids, think about heading to the dedicated children’s program, which is always fantastic and often very funny.
Early bird tickets are still available but word on the street is that they are selling out fast. So, do yourself a favour and come to Byron for three days of writerly fun. I’ll be there as the gates open every day, so see you there!