Posts Tagged ‘writing


Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival

Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival 2014


Now in its seventh year, Reality Bites brings Australia’s best minds and writers of literary nonfiction to the Noosa Hinterland. Presented by the Sunshine Hinterland Writers’ Centre, this festival is hand-crafted by a dedicated group of writers, readers and lovers of books and ideas.


This year the Festival is delighted to spread the word in Eumundi, taking weekend events to two new venues there. After the most successful ever event last year, it now offers a three day festival pass that includes a program of close-up sessions, panels and conversations with a brilliant lineup of local and interstate authors.


Feed your heart and mind at the Poet’s Speakeasy on Friday night, then on Saturday night celebrate the festival and welcome VIP guests.


Check out a workshop series for developing writers and programmed sessions covering a range of subjects for readers, thinkers and writers alike. And don’t forget the wildly popular pitching clinic where writers pitch their book ideas to a panel of industry experts.


Join writers and lovers of good writing for a feast of ‘food for thought’ in the REAL heart of the Hinterland.



A message from Artistic Director, Melanie Myers


It’s been a year of changes for Reality Bites Festival – the most obvious being our change of dates and location. Having enjoyed great support in Eumundi – from the Eumundi Green magazine and the Eumundi Historical Association, which has sponsored our festival launch since the event began – the time seemed right to spread the word to out to the wider Hinterland. While our workshop program and community events will remain at the Cooroy Library, our home for the last two years, hosting the main program in Eumundi allows us to kick off events Friday afternoon, and continue right through Saturday and Sunday with two streams of panels, conversations and close-up sessions that showcase a diverse range of Australia’s best nonfiction writing and authors.


For a nonfiction writers’ festival, ‘Reality Bites’ is a fitting name, and has held us in good stead for seven years now. When planning the program for 2014, our name got me thinking about the term ‘reality’ and, more particularly, what we mean by ‘real’. Real is considered synonymous with truth. We understand real to be what is actual, rather than imaginary.


For a literary festival that specialises in showcasing Australia’s best nonfiction, concepts of what are actual, real and the truth, are the touchstones of our existence. That might suggest we are in the business of disseminating cold, hard facts, but the truth is, that’s rarely the case. What is real, or even what seems real, may be true only so far we, as individuals, communities and societies, perceive and feel things to be real – whether that be love, loss, deviancy, injustice, the workings of our own mind (as with mental illness), or our shared past. This idea of ‘real’ is the thematic thread that underpins this year’s program.


So often the prerogative of fiction, real love, for example, holds a prominent place in this year’s program. As well as launching Australian Love Stories – a new anthology of short stories and memoir – we’ll be discussing the use and abuse of the ‘L’ word in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in ‘Words of Love’. With proceeds going to the Morcombe foundation, both real love and real crime will be in focus, as author Lindsay Simpson talks about the process of co-writing Looking for Daniel with Bruce and Denise Morcombe, and their 10-year quest to find out what happened to their son. Real crime and real dirt turns on the agents of the law enforcement themselves with ‘Watching the Detectives’ − our police diaries conversation in two parts, while ‘Dirty Secrets’ looks into the ASIO files of well-known Australian activists.


For the ‘big issues’ this year we’re talking about women in politics, or the lack of, in ‘Dis-man-tling the Joint’, and the competing realities of compassion and the law in ‘Seeking Refuge’. In a special 90-minute session, ‘Forgotten War’, Steven Lang will discuss the ‘white washing’ of Australia’s real history with respect to the frontier wars with historian Henry Reynolds, and academics Nicholas Clements and Tony Birch. For our Saturday morning-tea event, Maxine McKew will talk about inequality in our education system, and real solutions to remedy the problem. These are but a sampling of the conversations I hope will generate real discussion, real ideas, and perhaps even, one day, real change.


Ultimately, as readers and writers we have the power to create our own realities, and I hope you find something that’s real to you at Reality Bites ’14. Enjoy!



TODAY – Thursday October 23 2014


Berkelouw Books:

Early Bird Breakfast – free
THURS 23, 7.30 a.m.

AV Presentation by Raoul Slater of the new book Glimpses of Australian Birds
Croissants supplied by Berkelouw Cafe. Buy your own beverages.

Check website for details.


Berkelouw Books Open Bookclub – free
THURS 23, 6 – 8:30pm
Join Eumundi Book Club for its discussion of Thomas Picketty’s Capitalism in the 21st Century.
Check website for details.


(Book club attendees can attend Reality Bites session 24 AmalgaNations for free. Please register with Amanda at Berkeleow.)


School of Arts:

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Alternatives for a Clean Energy Future
THURS 23, 6:30 – 7:30pmIan Lowe, Drew Hutton and Tasmin Kerr
Tickets at door $5/$2
Tomorrow night – Friday October 24 – Katie Noonan presents Song Book at Eumundi School of Arts


Katie Noonan’s Song Book
FRI 24, 6 – 8:30pm


School of Arts

Katie NoonanLocal song-siren Katie Noonan hosts and performs with special guests in this annual community fundraiser. Profits go to Eumundi State School and School of Arts Hall.

Cash- only tickets available from Berkelouw Books Eumundi and Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre.



See you there! (And before that, we’ll be at Words of Love with Anna Campbell, Annah Faulkner, Mandy Sayer & Ashley Hay).



Follow @xsentertainment on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what’s happening at the Festival!



Download the PDF Program








Ellen Belloo & Metro Arts

Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre

30 October – 16 November 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




Three women, exiled from their homelands, find their stories are woven together across continents and decades. Nell Tritton, the Brisbane wife of a deposed Russian prime minister, forms a close friendship with Nina Berberova, who is exiled in Paris. The woman who would tell their story is Alyona, a Russian curator who finds her dreams of a new Australian paradise crushed by bankruptcy and the Fitzgerald Inquiry. 


Katherine Lyall-Watson’s Motherland is fascinating, engaging, intriguing, compelling, gripping and incredibly moving. This is a most intelligent, and beautifully shared story; it’s so sweet and subtle, yet the subject matter runs deep. Motherland is the most elegant, most sophisticated theatrical work we’ve seen in Brisbane in years, and it’s worthy of a main stage season inclusion not just here but anywhere in the world.


The result of four years of research and writing, and shortlisted this year for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, Motherland has enjoyed a print run by Playlab to coincide with the inaugural season at Metro Arts and it’s available to purchase online as well as at the venue.


It all begins at Pizza Hut, in Moscow. This is not where the play begins but it’s where this production – the first fully staged production after a reading in June this year – really takes off in terms of its storytelling. Everything becomes clear when a young boy (played by a grown man, Daniel Murphy) is left alone by his mother (Rebecca Riggs), while she goes to defend the barricades around Echo Moscow in the midst of the military coup of 1991. She returns to him and takes him to Brisbane with an Australian man (Peter Cossar), who promises they will return every year to their beloved Moscow.


The first five minutes are challenging, like Brisbane’s storm season, suddenly upon us last week, the light changing, the air thickening, and rain threatening to stop us in our tracks… But just like a Shakespearean text, or an Ancient Greek script, our ears and minds and hearts soon become attuned to the language and to the theatrical devices used specifically to tell this epic story.



All time and no time, KERENSKY makes a speech to adoring thousands, NINA remembers, NELL dreams, ALONYA recites part of a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva and KHODASEVICH comments on the action.

CEO of Metro Arts, Liz Burcham, joked that the word ‘epic’ would be the one most used at the after party and she was right. In all senses of the word, Motherland is epic, a massive story, told over decades that weave together the real and imagined events of people’s lives during a revolution, two world wars and the Fitzgerald Inquiry. I know! It sounds impossible! Katherine has not only tied these events together, she has drawn characters of such warmth and depth that by the end of the 95-minute play we feel like we’ve known about them forever.


These intriguing characters move effortlessly between time and space, and there’s not a DeLorean in sight. As the story twists and turns, becoming more and more complex, incredibly, it begins to make more sense. I’ve heard a number of productions described as “rich tapestries” and here is one that rightly deserves to be known as such.

Motherland’s cast comes with vast knowledge and rich experience. Katherine says they are a “dream team”. They are


Kerith Atkinson – Nell


Peter Cossar – Kerensky / Chris


Barbara Lowing – Nina


Daniel Murphy – Khodasevich / Sasha


Rebecca Riggs – Alonya


I don’t want to single anybody out because I enjoyed each and every performance, the believability of relationships reliant on the truth of each role, and implicit trust established between the performers during the process. As a result of the creative team’s commitment to storytelling and their attention to detail, we miss nothing. I love the choice to employ accents only when speaking outside of the characters’ most intimate circle (a device that others have tried – and failed – to employ successfully), and I feel these actors give us the full gamut of emotions, wrapped up in the intimacy of lives that we had previously known nothing about. Props and set pieces (within a stark design by Annie Robertson, lit beautifully by David Walters), other than the hanging white frames, seem unnecessary and somewhat untidy, but this is a minor quibble and will matter not a wit to others.




Despite losing a little of its pace and power almost three-quarters of the way through, Motherland begins with a bang, moves swiftly, succinctly, and ends so sensitively you’ll wonder where the time went and why you’re suddenly feeling utterly emotionally and mentally exhausted. The final image is one of power, beauty, and possibility. In the same moment it fills us with a deep sadness, and pure joy.

Dunphy’s inspired direction is faultless; it’s an intelligent and sensitive reading, gifting us with Lyall-Watson’s rich, concise words. Motherland marks the beginning of a new era of Australian playwriting, if only there are writers bold enough to follow in Lyall-Watson’s footsteps.


Brisbane Writers Festival – Program Launch


Brisbane Writers Festival

Program Launch

Friday 26th July 2013


State Library of Queensland



Every side of the story






Last Friday night, before seeing Venus In Fur (again! it was awesome! again!), Sam and I popped into the State Library for the launch of the 2013 Brisbane Writers Festival program. In an exhibition and event space that I never knew existed, upstairs on Level 2 of the Queensland State Library, we were handed a glass of mulled wine poured-directly-from-the bottle wine (oops, busted!) and ushered through to an interior room via a piano-painted table, where we ran into Cinnamon Watson and David Burton, publicist and writer respectively. How appropriate that we should see these two right away, and what an amazing job the team has done again this year, under the direction of Kate Eltham. Here is a really interesting project Kate mentioned, which we’ll find out more about at the festival.


The program features many favourite authors, and top master classes with a few of them, which I would love to attend, however; I’ll be live-tweeting a heap of other events over the course of the festival, which runs from Thursday September 6th to Sunday September 8th (there are also some sneaky early events happening all over town, which you can check out in the program). And of course, the Festival Club under the big red tent (is it a big red tent again this year?) is the place to hang out in between sessions if you’re serious about attending the festival so I have no doubt I’ll be seeing you there!




During daylight hours, The Kids Program is pretty awesome too so if you have younger readers and writers in your household, make sure you get them to something, anything, it’s all good, starting with Rebecca Sparrow’s session FIND YOUR TRIBE on Wednesday 4 September (Grades 8 – 12) and finishing on Friday 6 September with sessions with Matthew Reilly, Marlina Marchetta, Gus Gordon, Garth Nix and more. How excitement! Seriously, if I could just hang with the kids at these sessions I would!




Follow xsentertainment on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and BrisWritersFest on Twitter and Facebook to find out who we’re hanging with, and which sessions we get to. Make sure you say hello if you’re there. It’s always great to see you IRL!


Problogger Training Event: why I’m going to be there and why you might like to be my roomie for the weekend!


So will I be seeing you at the ProBlogger Training Event in September?



It’s my first. That’s right. I’m a ProBlogger Training Event virgin. And I can’t wait to pop my little conference cherry at the quirky QT Gold Coast September 13th – 14th.


If you’ll be there I’d love to hear from you, and if you’ll be there and you haven’t yet booked your accommodation, you could be my roomie! I thought I’d have one but she’s elected to go overseas instead. SO UNLESS YOU’VE ALSO BOOKED A TRIP OVERSEAS IT COULD BE YOU!


QT Gold Coast room


I have a gorgeous room at QT booked, so there’s no driving involved, and included in the package is breakfast both mornings and dinner on Saturday night! It will cost you just $255 for the two nights of the conference (that’s less than the ProBlogger Training Event special price per night!), and we’ll get to hang out!


Just DM me on Twitter or comment below if this sounds like you. We could be roomies!




The Problogger event always has such a fantastic program, with so many awesome speakers, that the whole conference this year booked out within hours of the original tickets going on sale. I’m super excited about the recently announced Lounge Sessions, which are a little more intimate, giving attendees the chance to ask lots of questions.


And I have LOTS of questions! You see I need to decide what to do next.


I’ve been reviewing theatre for three years, and occasionally I write something about something on my other blog. Add to that a weekly arts column for the local print media, and I’m happy being in the thick of it! When we’re not making theatre we’re supporting it, and I don’t want to stop supporting it (I love it!), but I want us to make more of our own type of theatre. For Sam, this means directing and producing, being given free reign over a text or an idea that grabs him. For me, this might mean writing. Wow. See how non-committal I am? (This is driving Sam crazy!). This is because I’m also a teacher, and I can make better money supply teaching than writing at the moment.


But while I’m teaching I’m not writing. So instead of committing fully to one or the other, I’ve been STAYING RIGHT HERE, frozen on the spot, doing what I’ve always done online and teaching less. I’d love to be teaching MORE OFTEN. Because, you know, income. And routine. I can teach during the day, and review theatre and write at night! Yes, I can. It’s what I’ve been doing for a while now, this juggling thing. I don’t mind juggling. It means I can HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO MARTINI AND DRINK IT TOO. POOLSIDE. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Yes, I hear you…


QT Gold Coast drinks by the pool


Wouldn’t it be easier if I were happy to just stay teaching? YES. Yes, it would be. In so many ways, life would be easier. I envy my teaching friends who’ll never do anything but teach, and travel in their holidays. I’ve never stayed long enough at one school – or in one system – to earn long service leave, and I can’t even imagine that life.


I want to write – I need to write – and if I were going to just write, wouldn’t I be doing it? Yes, alright, thank you, I’m DOING IT, but the blogs the way they are are not what I mean. JUGGLING HAS ITS PITFALLS. And that’s why the ProBlogger Training Event IS GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE. I’m going to come away BUILDING BETTER BLOGS. That’s right. Something, or someone there will be the thing that helps me get on track and really get writing. SAM, YOU’RE KILLING ME; DON’T SAY IT WON’T.


Remember, I HAVE A ROOM AT QT that I’d love to share with you if you’re going to be there, for the event or just for the weekend! For details just DM me on Twitter or comment below. It’s a great deal and I’m really nice to holiday/work/live with.


Down That Little Lane


Chicks In Charge at Reality Bites Festival 2013







From Thursday 25th – Sunday 28th July, at various venues in Cooroy, the Reality Bites Festival fills four glorious Sunshine Coast days with books, writers, readers, ideas, inspiration, friends, music and comedy.


I was going to just move into someone’s – anyone’s – place in Cooroy and commit to this entire festival! It will be amazing, but unfortunately I’ll be lucky to get to one or two sessions.


In my current state of identity crisis (how many resumes highlighting various skill sets do you have saved on your desktop? Just wondering…), I’m looking forward to attending more theatre again this weekend and less (meaning not as much as I would like) writerly events. OH! But I’m excited to be attending the launch of Brisbane Writers Festival on Friday night before seeing Venus in Fur (again! It’s Date Night!).







Also, you would know if you’re keeping up with us on Twitter and Instagram, that I now have a no-dig organic vege garden out the back, a plant nursery on and around the barbecue by the kitchen, and a chook house with three lovely girls in the back corner of the block to keep up with!

Whose crazy idea was it to start living more sustainably? HUH?!

Also, my twenty-year school reunion is coming up in August and


Anyway, if you can get to anything at the Reality Bites Festival DO IT! And let me know your thoughts. It WILL be amazing!

In 2012 when former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said societies only reach their full potential when women participate politically, shock-jock Alan Jones responded by saying: ‘Women are destroying the joint.’ His comment prompted not only a tide of outrage but a social media movement that now has over 20,000 supporters on its Facebook page.

After becoming a rallying point for activism against sexism and misogyny in the media, DTJ – as it’s known – became the inspiration for a book edited by author and social commentator Jane Caro. Destroying the Joint: Why Women have to Change the World is a thought-provoking collection of essays, analysis, memoir, fiction, satire and polemic by some Australia’s best and brightest female writers in response to Jones’s comment and the broader issue of sexism and misogyny in our culture.

Contributors Catherine Deveny and Krissy Kneen, as well as fellow ‘destroyer’ and reknowned feminist Anne Summers will discuss why women need to change the world (Saturday July 27, 12:30 – 1:30pm).

Anne Summers, author of the seminal God’s Whores and Damned Police , will also talk about her new book The Misogyny Factor and why Australia – the land of the fair go – still hasn’t figured out how to make men and women equal. Joining her on the panel ‘Little Tales of Misogyny’ (Sunday July 27, 10:00 – 11:00am) will be Overland editor and social commentator, Jeff Sparrow, and social worker and author of the memoir Crime Wife, Tanya Levin. Then of course is the wrecking ball herself, Catherine Deveny, knocking over sacred cows left right and centre. She will be doing a stand up show at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona on Friday night, 26 July.


But it’s not all about tearing down the status quo – it’s also about the healing that we can do with words. Alesa Lajana, music educator and singer songwriter who appears on the same bill will be doing her best to repair the racial rift in Australian society by telling our shared history in song.


Mary Lou Stevens’ memoir is about healing the self by going deep into the terror places in her Sex, Drugs and Meditation, and Kristy Chambers talks about her (Un)Brilliant career as a nurse at ‘Who Cares’, an Afternoon Tea talk at Tea-Licious.

That reminds me, my signed copy of Sex, Drugs and Meditation is still with the girls at Sinerji! I should pop in and pick it up since they’re having a sale so near now that we’ve moved, and it would be no problem just to race in and out to pick up my book.

You can buy your own copy by following the links here.


Front-cover-195x300 (1)

Kristina Olsson talks about the invisibility of women in their own stories in her new memoir Boy, Lost, in which she describes the silence and secrets of her mother (her child was taken from her by his father). Hers is an act of familial healing.

Eve Stewart, the heroine of Judy Powell’s soon to be released biography Love’s Obsession, personifies persistence and attention to detail. Eve was the wife of firebrand archaeologist Jim Stewart who began the first school of Archaeology in Australia. Eve, herself a trained archaeologist, spent most of her life cataloguing their work, determined to see it into print and cement his place in history.

Sessions sell out quickly so organisers are urging festival patrons to get in early. Single session tickets are only available a the door – best to make sure of your place with a weekend pass.


Check out the program and book online or in person at Annie’s Books, Peregian.