Perth Writers Festival

Since I am now set upon an oft trod path, I felt a sudden urge to mingle with my fellow book aficionados. But how do you mingle with your peers when you live 3 hours away from the most remote city in the world? The interwebz seems like a nice starting place, but at some stage we all have to upgrade to real 3D people, if only to remind us not to be so snarky to one-another on forums.

Low and behold the Perth Writers Festival has come and gone for another year, and this year they had Crime Fiction included, and I was in attendance. I know, how likely is that?!

So what did I see? Well a lot of people just like me. Readers, writers, people with a general disdain for the lack of proper grammar usage on TV, you know, people who can read. In amongst this grouping of people who could read I found myself in a small subset of the literate, a subset that had been born after 1960 (to win a free e-book, email me a tell me if this was hyperbole).

Despite my general disdain for the (self-supposed) authority figures at UWA, it did prove to be a good venue for the masses of literates to converge and discuss their favourite topic; those damn kids these days. Their second favourite topic was the reason I was in attendance; writing.

I have to praise the two presenters who held Crime writing workshops at the Perth Writers Festival, Leah Giarratano and David Whish-Wilson. Leah is a rather smart, friendly, charming, and quite tall psychologist. She also happens to write some very dark crime fiction that are well worth reading. Plus she brought chocolates! Since she has dealt with some unsavory people and their victims she was well versed in creating characters with depth. Ever felt like a novel has a bad guy that is just there to be a bad guy? Well Leah had the solution to that, the scary part was that the real bad guys are far worse than the average horror writer’s imagination. Oh and she also signed my copy of her latest book with a heart – she was really nice.

Smart, tall, brunette, writer = Leah

David is a writing lecturer at Curtin university, as well as being a published author himself. Too often the two don’t go hand in hand, or the publishing means they bought 200 copies to give to friends and family. Not David. I think the thing that David brought to the class was the skills of writing and some handy techniques to break out of ruts and not be too cliche with writing. David was also willing to offer his help with people’s manuscripts – cool guy.

David striking his cool writers pose.

Now one thing seemed to be consistent in the writers workshops, that you had to be female and over the age of 45. In fact in David’s workshop I was one of two guys and the only one not alive in the 60’s. While this may have hampered my ability to appreciate Jefferson Airplane I wonder how it will relate to my comparative writing style. I guess at least I didn’t feel compelled to make up my first memory and turn it into some fanciful emotional moment when asked to share our first memories with the class.

What writers festival would be complete without a really big name writer? At this event the organisers turned to none other than Jeffry P. Freundlich.

Dexter, Jeff and Debs

Jeff is of course the fabulous author of the Dexter series of books. To all of the would-be writers out there, do not despair, Jeff also had a hard time selling his writing gold. After years of work Jeff finally came upon the idea of Dexter after meeting some wonderful people (yes that is sarcasm) at a luncheon and was suddenly convinced that serial murder wasn’t such a bad thing. It still took him four-and-a-half years and six agents to actually get someone interested in publishing Darkly Dreaming Dexter. He was really interesting to listen to and I managed to have a short chat with him when I corned him to sign my copy of his latest book. Very funny, very interesting and seems like a really nice guy – how the hell did he end up writing about a psychopath?

All in all I enjoyed my time at the festival. I’d also love to here from any other people who made it to Perth for the event, or for that matter any similar thoughts on the writers festivals you have attended. The big question I have is: does genre usually get any mention at writers festivals or was this an exception?

4 thoughts on “Perth Writers Festival

  1. Thanks Rex. I'm writing on average 800 words a day. The unfortunate thing is that they don't tend to be focused on any one book (three main ones at the moment). The aim is to have my first out later this year, entitled Overturned Stones.


  2. Just a quick comment: I met one of the organisers at the Sydney Writers' Festival. Very nice lady and it would be great if some of the Sydney event sponsors could get on board the Perth event.


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