FRI 21st - SUN 23rd OCTOBER 2022

Two Festival Authors in the News

Two of the authors who will be appearing at the festival, and their books,  have recently featured in the media:

Nigel Featherstone

Nigel Featherstone, whose second novel, My Heart is a Little Wild Thing, has just been published,  was the subject of the cover story in a recent issue of Panorama,  the Canberra Times weekend magazine. And it includes one of the most interesting author photos we’ve ever seen.

Rick Morton

As well, Rick Morton’s Growing Up in Country Australia , also recently published, received a thoughtful and incisive review by Declan Fry in the Sydney Morning Herald

32 Weeks to Lift-Off

It won’t come as a surprise that the words “ Berry Writers Festival” in the Subject  line of emails  sent to prospective participants  elicit the  enthusiastic – indeed, excited—responses:     “Berry!  Of course I’ll come!”   

Elsewhere on this site are the names of some of the authors who’ve already agreed to appear.

Two of them are: 

Phillipa McGuinness

Phillipa McGuinness, a former publisher, is currently editor of Open Book, the magazine of the State Library of New South Wales. She is also the author of two fascinating works of non-fiction,   The Year Everything Changed: 2001, which was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and the just-published  Skin Deep: The Inside Story of Our Outer Selves,  which  has just been  reviewed  rapturously in the Guardian .  

Jane Caro, the  noted speaker, writer, and social commentator whom many of you will have seen on The Drum, has just made her adult fiction debut with The Mother,  a “gripping thriller” as described  in this enthusiastic recent review. 

Finally,  Doris Lessing, the acclaimed British writer and the 2007 Nobel Laureate in Literature,  is not appearing at the Festival, as she died alas  in 2013. 

But she wrote one of my favourite books,  On Cats.

In her honour, here is a picture of a Siamese named Zoe offering a bit of distracted and distracting assistance during  our Festival programming effort this afternoon.

Mary Cunnane

33 Weeks to go...

We had our first volunteers meeting this week, and what a lovely bunch our volunteers are! It’s so great to share in the warmth and enthusiasm of like minded book lovers. So many ideas. So much good will.  I was looking at a University of Sydney site* that talks about the benefits of volunteering. Let me quote a few for you.

  1. Satisfaction with life is at least partially dependent on living a life with purpose and meaning.  Volunteering provides both these things in spades.
  2. Volunteering keeps you in a positive mood and can help lift you out of a negative mood.
  3. It triggers the reward pathway in the brain known as the mesolimbic system. It releases “feel-good” neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vasopressin. The buzz you get from these neurotransmitters is sometimes known as “the helpers high”.
  4. Volunteering is an adventure. Meeting people from different walks of life and different ways of life brings together unexpected experience

But also… get the full benefits of volunteering, the trick is to get involved in something you’re passionate about. That’s us! 

It’s not too late to get involved. Our next meeting is on Monday 28th March at the Uniting Hall Berry at 5pm.  

Meanwhile, don’t stop reading.  Very new off the press is a first novel from the Walkley Award winning journalist, social commentator and author, Jane Caro. It is called The Mother and is billed as  ‘a gripping domestic thriller with a moral dilemma at its core.’ Can’t wait to read it and to hear Jane discuss it in October.  *


34 weeks to go

Some Festival magic this week. One of our most generous and dedicated supporters, Louise Walsh, along with her husband Dave Jordan, hosted a fundraising event for the Festival at their beautiful property in Jaspers Brush. Potential donors met the BWF committee and heard from two of our local authors, Suzanne Daniel and Danielle Celermajer, interviewed by Nicole Abadee of the SMH. Danielle fought through flood waters in Broughton Vale to join us. That’s commitment!

Books break the shackles of time - proof that humans can work magic - Carl Sagan.

Just a couple of days post event, already many of those guests have been extremely generous and so the Festival coffers feel a lot more substantial. We couldn't run this event without our wonderful donors and sponsors. Not only do we need money to hire venues, for marketing and to pay authors, but there is a very real sense of support for all of us working on the ground. We feel loved! So, if you know of anyone you feel might contribute, cash, kind or time, please point them in our direction.

And some exciting author news. We are pleased that Peter Hartcher, international editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age and author of Red Zone: China’s Challenge and Australia’s Future, will be in conversation with Gary Quinlan AO, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Indonesia, to discuss Australia’s role in a rapidly changing world.

We will also hear from Hugh MacKay, and Tabitha Carvan whose book, launched today, has one of the best titles I’ve seen in a while: This is not a book about Benedict Cumberbatch

Next week we will start to post our author bios on the website, so keep looking.


35 Weeks to go...

It’s been a week of consolidation, of talking to more potential authors, speakers and workshop convenors and to Berry locals who are enthusiastic and want to get involved, whether by offering their skills or by donating accomodation, services or cash.

Planning Ahead

Our vision for the Festival is to include local authors as well as more well known and high profile creative people who will challenge us to think about our lives and our society. In these days of click-bait news and sound grabs, I think Sydney Writers’ Festival artistic director, Michael Williams, was spot-on when he reflected: “What I love about books, what I love about good writing is that thing of consideration, of slowing things down. And so, whether it’s through fiction or through journalism, or through screenwriting … what our writers are doing is giving us an understanding of the world, a relationship with the world that is slower, deeper and more complex.*

We are also trying to cater to a broad range of literary tastes. We hope to include many fiction genres including crime, historical fiction, literary and women’s, as well as memoir and social and political writing and poetry. Let’s hope there’s something for everyone!! 

Make sure you blank out the whole weekend in your diary (21-23 October) including the Friday, when there will be workshops including some on writing skills, publishing, researching and poetry. 

*Sydney Sentinel 22 April 2021

36 weeks to go….

Let the countdown being

All my worries that it might be hard to build up the momentum again after the heartache of last year’s postponement are disappearing and I am feeling super optimistic. Mary Cunnane and I have already been working on our programme and we have some very exciting additions to our line-up. Many of the literary ‘stars’ from 2021 have also agreed to participate. Fifteen of the authors who have accepted our invitations have new books which will be appearing in 2022, so we’ll also be able to introduce you to the latest in the literary world. 

Christa Wood has done the time-consuming heavy lifting of submitting a funding application to Create NSW and we are exploring other funding options too, so that we can have the fullest programme possible.

Monday March 14th will be the first volunteer meeting and I am so looking forward to catching up with all the lovely volunteers from last year and meeting new recruits. Put it in your diary!

As a teaser… the amazing Ceridwen Dovey will be presenting an exciting new collaborative work, Mothertongues, with Eliza Bell and Keppie Couts that blends prose, poetry, and song, htand David Dufty brings us a new book: Nabbing Ned Kelly in which he goes back to the records to uncover the real story of the police officers who pursued the Kelly Gang.

Please get in touch if you have any suggestions or queries, in the meantime, watch this space.

Cheers, Suzanne

Power FM / 2ST
South Cost Writers Centre
Wax Lyrical
The Berry Writers Festival acknowledges the Dharawal and Dhurga language-speaking groups who are traditional owners of this area. We acknowledge their customs and culture, which have nourished, and continue to nourish, this land. And we extend our respects to Elders, past, present, and future.

Berry Writers Festival is a not for profit community event.
ABN: 63 903 506341 
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Gallery Photography and other images by Katie Rivers Photography courtesy of Shoalhaven Tourism 

Main banner drone shot © Andy Hutchinson Photography.
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