Newcastle Writers Festival


I never knew that my home town – Newcastle – had so many talented writers, or that it even had many published writers at all! I must have been living under a rock, or at least behind my laptop, for the past decade. This weekend is the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival. There are free events and ticketed events, just like at writers festivals in capital cities. I have been to the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne Writers Festivals and , before seeing Newcastle’s program, I thought to myself that Newcastle could not possibly get in any big names for the event. How wrong I was! And most of the big names are Novocastrians, born and bred, and still living and writing here. A novocastrian, for all you non-Newcastle folk, is the quirky name we locals give to people from Newcastle.

Today, I went to a free session on YA fiction. The topic for discussion was “Cross-Over Fiction”, which is about how YA fiction is not just for teenagers anymore. I have always passionately been a reader of YA fiction, and certainly not just because I write for this age group. YA fiction is intelligent, funny, literary, thought-provoking, and all the things that adult fiction is, but the main attraction for me is that it is pacier. Teenagers don’t want to read boring descriptions or long-winded bits of back story. They want their stories to move along and get somewhere fast. They want their characters real and flawed and in-your-face. And so do I! A friend recently recommended and lent me an adult book that she raved about. I have been struggling to find what it was that she loved about it. Yet today I bought four books by the four wonderful YA authors at the Writers Festival, and over the course of this afternoon I read the opening chapter of each. All four books gripped me from the start, leaving me in a quandary as to which one to read first. That’s what Young Adult fiction does to you. These four wonderful authors, whose names you will see below, spoke with such passion about YA fiction that they have inspired and motivated me to get stuck into my next novel. Just last weekend I finished writing my sixth novel (more about that on another blog post, which I have also been motivated to do more often), and I was planning to take a hiatus from writing for a while, but after listening to these writers speak, that hiatus will be extremely short. I am just itching to get stuck into my next story. So a huge thank you to these wonderful Newcastle authors and their awesome novels. Check them out!!!!!

Felicity Pullman – A Ring Through Time     Ghosts, secrets . . . and a love that haunts the future

Kaz Delaney – Dead, Actually   A wickedly funny story of blackmail, scams and swoonworthy crushes

Margo Lanagan – Tender Morsels   Winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel

Alexa Moses – Slave Girl   A 13 year old girl travels back in time to Ancient Egypt with nothing but her big mouth and her smart phone to get her out alive



4 responses »

  1. Hello Lizzie – imagine my surprise when, seeing your name on the REAL awards shortlist, I lobbed over here to say congratulations and saw that you’d written about our talk at the Newcastle Writers Fest! It was lovely to meet you there, and I now have Give Me Four Reasons on my reading pile!

    • Hi Alexa
      How cool is is that at the very moment I am reading “Slave Girl” I get a personal message from the author! I did NOT know about that one of my books had been shortlisted for the REAL awards. Thanks for alerting me to this. I checked out the site and I am absolutely chuffed! “Give Me Four Reasons” has not done well in terms of sales, so it is so nice to know that the small portion of kids who have bought it or borrowed it from libraries love it. I am thoroughly enjoying Slave Girl. Your descriptions of life in ANcient Egypt really make me feel like I am there. You have done your research well. ANd Jenna is such a great character. I can see a huge future for her in this series and perhaps another one. You are so lucky to have a series deal. I have only one more novel under contract at the moment (Scholastic and I are currently editing and it will be released in May 2014), but all of my other proposals have been rejected by Scholastic. Perhaps I need to take my ideas elsewhere . . .
      Anyway, thanks for your comment, Alexa. Enjoy your success!

  2. “Ditto, ditto Alexa!” she says waving madly. Well almost ditto… 😉 I was looking up something else, came across the REAL, came to say mega, mega congratulations and offer my warmest hugs – and saw this.

    Thank you Lizzie! It was a huge buzz meeting you at the NWF – something I’d been wanting to do for some time. I truly love your work and am looking forward to diving into ‘Four Reasons’. I have actually just begun reading Losing It, which I recommended to a student and am reading it with her. I love the Newcastle setting and it’s so cool picturing the real Bar Beach skate ramps etc. You can see I’m not too far in- but loving it. Very authentic. I.

    And I totally agree that Newcastle boasts some amazing writers and amazing talent – and just to see how many times I can fit amazing into one sentence – it is truly amazing to me that so few of us know each other. We need to amend that.

    Thank you again for the cool mention!

    • Hi Kaz
      Wow! What a buzz to get an email from you! I have been meaning to get onto your website and leave a message telling you how much I LURVED Dead, Actually. I gave it to my sister as well and she loved it too. YA is definitely crossover fiction if two forty-something year old women love your work! And a huge congratulations to you on winning (jointly with the wonderful Margo Lanagan) the YA fiction Aurealis Award!!!! That is amazing. Did you go to the awards night? What was it like? When I went to an awards night I felt so in awe of the literary talent in one room and probably made an enormous idiot of myself gushing on to the likes of Simon French, Thomas Kenneally, James Roy, etc. And now I have the famous Kaz Delaney writing me a message! The Australian Writing Industry is full of so many lovely and genuine people who support each other’s work.
      Yes, the Newcastle scene is a big part of that and sadly I am not part of the Hunter Writer’s Centre as I have so little time with my full time teaching job and a six year old daughter that any spare time I must put into actually writing, and not talking about writing. ALthough I know it would be brilliant and beneficial for me to have a network of writers as friends. Maybe one day when my daughter does not need me so much. . .

      But thank you so much for your message


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