I had a great time at the Perth Writers’ Festival (PWF) on the UWA campus this last weekend. Apart form the wonderful opportunity to spend an hour in front of a large audience with the great biographer, Selina Hastings, and about which I have already posted a blog, I was also on a platform at the Publishing Seminar with Sheila Hollingsworth, the author of A Decent Proposal and Barbara Mobbs one of our most experienced and respected literary agents.
On Sunday morning, I chaired a session on the subject of the Creative Tension between Fathers and Sons with novelists, Nick Earls, Craig Sherborne and Steven Carroll. None of us thought this was a particularly rich or prolific subject to explore; in fact we were asking each other as we walked onto the platform what the hell were we going to talk about? Well, thank god all of these guys are switched on, because, not only did they discuss the subject in depth (even though all of them got on well with their fathers) but they went on to talk about a writer’s family relations in general and made it an interesting and absorbing event.
Sunday late afternoon was another standout event when I chaired the session on Conflict and Consequences with writer Niromi de Soyza who, as a seventeen year old girl in Sri Lanka joined the guerrilla army the LTTE and become a Tamil Tigress. Also on the platform was author Peter Godwin, who has written much about the violence in Zimbabwe, journalist Kim Barker, who for years was in Afghanistan reporting on the war there, and photo-journalist Nigel Brennan who, along with Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian reporter, was kidnapped by bandits in Somalia and held captive for over fifteen months. All of their accounts of the violence they had witnessed and personally suffered were enormously moving. To introduce the four guests I adapted the line from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, substituting the words, ‘conflict and violence’ for the word ‘power’. Hence, Niromi and Peter had been born to conflict and violence as their homelands were torn by civil war; Kim had acquired conflict by going to Afghanistan as a reporter, and Nigel had very definitely had conflict and violence inflicted on him when he had been abducted on a dusty Somalian road by a bunch of gangsters. I think the audience enjoyed the session; I know I did.