Aug 8, 2016

Byron Writers Festival – oh what a Festival

Byron Writers Festival, of which I am the deputy-chair, opened last Friday. Last Wednesday night the

equivalent of a cyclone hit Byron. We arrived early on the site on Thursday morning to find one marquee collapsed, another marquee ripped, lots of the signage blown away and a large proportion of the site flooded. Many people thought we would open the next day, but we were determined.

Our team worked around the clock (with pumps, gravel, hay and crusher dust) and we opened the gates as scheduled at 8am the next morning. We told everyone to bring their gumboots. And what a Festival. I’m honestly too exhausted to give you all the highlights (have been running on very little sleep for the past five days!) but the whole event was magic.

I drove Annabel Crabb to the Literary Dinner and she is a delight. I sat next to Leigh Sales at dinner. She is easiest person to talk to in the world. Just like talking to a friend. I thought I’d be intimidated and searching for intelligent things to say to such an extraordinary media icon, but she is so down to earth and friendly. Meeting P.J. O’Rourke was also a bit of a highlight. And, there were so many more.

I chaired two sessions. Contemporary rural romance author Charlotte Nash was a delight to interview. I so loved her book, The Horseman. And, Lucy Clark had almost the whole marquee in tears as we discussed the content of her book, Beautiful Failures. I was a little intimidated when Kerry O’Brien sat down to listen!

All in all, we pulled off a miracle and today I plan to lie on the couch and watch rom coms all day (well after I do the washing, drop the kids to school, answer over 1000 emails and catch up on all the other stuff I neglected for the past few weeks). And sincere apologies for all the typos that are bound to be in this post. At the moment I can barely remember my own name.

Have you been to any writers festivals? Love to hear about your experience.


  1. I seem to remember the BBWF I went to a couple of years back was a bit on the rainy side too, Jen! Hugs to you all on a sight that must have made you want to cry and well done on getting it all up and ready to go again!

    I'm off to the Mudgee Readers Festival this weekend which I'm really looking forward to. Then its RWA conf in Adelaide - yay!

    Put your feet up and have a well earned rest - you deserve it!

    PS - Very jealous of you meeting Leigh Sales and Annabel Crab!

  2. So looking forward to catching up in Adelaide, Amy. Yes, the day you came to the Festival was rainy but at least that was after 2.5 days of sunshine. Such a delight to meet Annabel and Leigh.

  3. So glad we were no on the east coast for that storm. But my dad copped it bad at Coffs! Agree about The Horseman. I'll get to interview Charlotte and Amy at Mudgee Festival next weekend. :) One day I'll make it to Byron.

    1. Yes, heard Coffs was badly hit.

      You will have so much fun with those two at Mudgee - wish I could be there. Would love to see you at Byron, Jenn.

  4. Wow - you do such an amazing job with organising! You're a tornado of positive energy and such a go-getter. Well done on a brilliant festival.

    Enjoy your break - you deserve it x

  5. What a great festival, Jennifer. Will have to put it on my to do list.

  6. You must, Sue. Would love to see you here!

  7. WOW Jennifer that was one mighty storm glad it all turned out well I have been to the Sydney Writers Festival and very much enjoyed it and see you in Adelaide hope you have a good rest :)

    Have Fun

  8. Thanks Helen. So looking forward to catching up in Adelaide.

  9. Jennifer, it sounds like the most marvellous experience, even down to the gum boots! Why am I not surprised that you persisted and got the show off the ground?

    The festivals that stick in my mind most are some fabulous reader events I've attended where everyone was so thrilled to be there and excited to be talking books for a whole weekend. I love that great sense of joy!

  10. Yes, Annie, talking books all weekend is a wonderful thing to do!

  11. What a trooper and a champion you are, Jen! Well done you and the rest of the committee for making sure the show went ahead...and on time! Applauding you all madly. :-)

    And what a joy it all sounds -- have to say I'm rather jealous at your meeting Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales. I was involved (on the edges) of the first Newcastle Writers Festival -- it had a wonderful vibe and sense of excitement. There's nothing quite like a few days immersed in the world of books, is there?

  12. Annabel and Leigh were an absolute delight, Michelle. I'd love to go to the New Castle Writers Festival one day.