Brisbane Writers Festival 2018 – Wrap Up

I still can’t believe this little four-day bubble actually happened! This little trip to Brisbane was fantastic. It was busy, but Michelle and I still had a chance to relax, watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend together and enjoy spending time surrounded by books. I probably went to the festival bookshop four times a day and tried my best to keep my wallet closed.

Fantastic Dystopias with Veronica Roth

Just in case we haven’t gushed about it enough, our events with Veronica were amazing. Michelle & I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity. It was incredible to have this event almost coincide with our 1st birthday, to see how far we’ve come in just over one year. 

All going well with technology, you should all be able to listen to our interviews with Veronica soon!


Healing: Addressing Men’s Mental Health (Osher Gunsberg, Joe Williams & Samuel Maguire + Chair: David Burton)

I think this was an amazing session to have on the program, and it was fantastic to see so many people engaged in the audience. Samuel, Joe and Osher were all very open and honest. You could see that at points, it was still difficult for them to open up. Something Osher said that has stuck with me is, ‘the time for not talking about it is past.’ This such an important conversation that needs to be had more often. It’s wonderful to see people who can stand up and talk about it and wrote books about it to share their story with others. 

The Trauma Cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein + Chair: Paul Barclay)

Crime does interest me, but I’m definitely not as interested as others. I don’t read about it much, or listen to the podcasts, but I’m gradually getting more interested. There was a lot of crime related sessions at the festival, I wanted to go to at least one. I’d heard a bit about this book, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever read it, but I’m glad I went to the session. Written by Sarah Krasnostein about Sandra Pankhurst, The Trauma Cleaner is a mix of biography and true crime. It’s a bit of a tagline, that Sandra’s job is the least interesting thing about her, but it’s true. She is an amazing person, and her story deserves to be told.

Love & Friendship (Sally Piper, Bride Jabour, Helen Jukes + Chair: Alex Adsett)

This was the first session that really added books to my TBR. It was interesting to hear the different ways love, friendships and relationships played a part in three very different books. I’d already read The Geography of Friendship, and it was great to meet Sally Piper in person. After the session, I went to buy The Way Things Should Be by Bridie Jabour and have since heard even more wonderful things about A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes. It was a lovely Saturday morning!

Crossing Worlds – LoveYA Day (Jared Thomas, Clare Atkins, Brendan Lawley)

I wasn’t super organised in regards to the LoveYA events, I forgot to register so I could only attend the first and last sessions of the day. This first one, was an interesting discussion about diversity and inclusivity in young adult fiction. There were some great comments from the panellists about how YA might be seen as leading the way in this area, but it’s just reflecting our reality. That diversity is our reality and the reality of young adults and teenagers. I would particularly love to read Clare Atkins books, Between Us and Nona & Me. 

Criminal Minds – LoveYA Day (Sarah Epstein)

I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Small Spaces, but I wasn’t sure if it would be my cup of tea. After hearing Sarah talk about the story, her writing and publishing process, I can’t wait to read it! 

Into The Night/The Woman In The Window (Sarah Bailey, A.J. Finn + Chair: Helene Young)

The perfect follow up to one event about thrillers is to go to another. During the festival, I’d been hearing wonderful things about A.J. Finn’s other events, so I knew I had to make it to one. He was an absolute delight to listen to, as was Sarah. They asked each other questions and referred to each other’s answers, which allowed the conversation to flow very well and made listening even more enjoyable. The discussion around research, plotting and character development in relation to their novels was so interesting! Without hearing them speak, I would probably have never read their work, but now I want to. Onto the TBR they go!

The Book Ninjas (Ali Berg, Michelle Kalus + Chair: Kristina Schulz)

Fun fact: Michelle & I were mistaken for Ali & Michelle a few times over the festival. We’re that other pair of bookish brunettes! It’s been a little while now since I read The Book Ninja, so hearing them talk about Frankie, Sunny, Cat, Claud, books and trains was wonderful. If I hadn’t lent my copy to someone, I probably would have been reaching for a reread already. Ali & Michelle did wonderfully, bouncing off each other and giving the audience insight into their friendship, writing process, Books on the Rail and The Book Ninja. 

Refugee Stories (Mem Fox, Imtiaz Ali, Kagi Kowa, Lili Sanchez + Chair: Kon Karapanagiotidis)

I found this session very moving. It started with a reading of, and discussion about, Mem Fox’s book, I’m Australian Too. Just by itself, listening to Mem Fox read one of her books was amazing. Then, each of the three panellists took turns telling their refugee stories. They were all from different places, had very different experiences and came to Australia at different times. Unlike all the other sessions I went to, which were filled with bits and pieces of audience chit-chat and laughter, we were all basically silent. Completely captivated by each speaker.

The Museum of Modern Love/The Lace Weaver (Heather Rose + Lauren Chater)

There was a little bit of drama surrounding this session! Lauren was originally supposed to have a session on Saturday morning, and just be chairing this discussion with Heather. However, she got stuck in Sydney on Friday night and didn’t make it to the festival until Sunday. It worked out fantastically though, Heather and Lauren had a wonderful conversation that we all had the pleasure to witness! I’d heard wonderful things about The Museum of Modern Love, and I think I’d love to read it (but don’t hold your breath). The discussion about the research process, writing, drafts, how the story and characters form was so interesting from both Heather and Lauren’s point of view. They were wonderful together, you’d have no idea they’d only just met! When they opened questions, someone in the audience even complimented them on getting along so well.


Well there you have it, my Brisbane Writers Festival Wrap Up. Seems like so long ago already! Did you go to the festival? Were you at any of the same sessions? Have you read any of the many books that were added to my TBR? Let me know!