Sydney Writers Festival 2011

Am back from Sydney Writers Festival for 2011 and phoar, what a festival it is. I went in 2006 and it was a stunner. Huge, martially organised, teeming millions of authors both domestic and international, many drinks parties, many drinks had til the wee hours and fabulous, fantastic conversations both in panels and in private.

I actually didn’t get to see a single event other than my own, due to most of the ones I wanted to go to being, inevitably, scheduled at the same time as mine, or just before or after (when I had to be in the Green Room or signing books). Shame. I heard there were some great ones: Sonya Hartnett, David Mitchell and others.

Mine were great — one where I interviewed Sonia Faleiro about her extraordinary account of bar dancers in Mumbai, Beautiful Thing; one on the so-called ‘Porn Wars’ which was a very, shall we say vigorous debate, chiefly between Gail Dines (author of Pornland) on one hand, and Catherine Lumby and Leslie Cannold on the other side, and me in the middle (it was filmed by ABC Big Ideas but isn’t online yet); then one solely on The Romantic, in conversation with Anne Maria Nicholson which was very enjoyable;  then a final discussion of memoir with Georgia Blain and Emma Forrest, author of Your Voice in My Head.

Here’s a quick interview I did with Sydney Writers Centre at the festival, talking about both my books, memoir writing and writing in general.

Dream-like hazy sunshiney warm weather, thousands of people lounging and strolling on the wharfs, constantly bumping into writers I know or was eager to meet. It was wonderful. Exhausting. A pleasure.



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4 Responses to Sydney Writers Festival 2011

  1. Hi Kate,

    Just wanted to drop you a message and, firstly, let you know that I am a fan of your work. I saw one of your sessions at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival with Emma Forrest. I had heard your interview previously on ABC’s ‘Conversations with Richard’ radio program, and before that, on Triple J. Shortly after your session, I went out and purchased a copy of ‘In My Skin’. To be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, although I had an idea based on the interviews I’ve heard. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Your book grabbed me and didn’t let me go from beginning to end. Reading about things that I had very limited knowledge about before hearing your interviews and reading your book, gave me a greater insight. I know this book has had a great effect on me, as it’s opened my eyes a lot more. I know that reading your book has already played a part in shaping my future, as it’s made me appreciate my loving family more and the friends I have around me. Just last week, I went out and purchased ‘The Romantic’ and I’m very much looking forward to reading it in the not too distant future. Finally, thank you for being the wonderful person and writer that you are. You have proven that no matter what life throws at you, you can come out the other end.


    Daniel P

    • kate says:

      Hi Daniel, and thank you so much!

      I’m thrilled that you liked In My Skin and thanks for getting a copy. I had a lovely time on that panel with Emma, we’d never met before but are friends now. I didn’t ever know how people would respond to IMS when I wrote it but I’ve had the most amazing letters and it just overwhelms me when people really ‘get’ it. Especially if it changes peoples’ attitudes or helps them think again (media portrayals of addicts and sex workers are sadly often a bit far from the truth…).

      My loving family was my saving and I adore them all the more now. I’m sure yours is lucky to have you.

      And you are a kind person to say such lovely things to me, thank you, they mean a lot.

      Happy reading and take care


  2. Laura says:

    Hi Kate

    Just wanted to say how I appreciate the honesty and writing style of your book ‘In My Skin’…I’m doing an Arts degree at Flinders University and we had a read and discussion of the book in my English class 😉
    It was like nothing I’d ever read before and it really opened up a new kind of perspective on issues like drug use and prostitution for me, giving me a better grasp on the reality of it all (ie not simply the sensationalized media headlines).
    Anyway, I was just wondering if you think perhaps in some parts of the book you tend to sensationalize the sex industry a little, (I know you said you’re a feminist, and that sex work sometimes was like a kind of liberation for you). You mention in the book that you had respect from your co-workers and clients as well as a good income – did you tend to focus on some of the more positive aspects of that kind of work to help you to deal with the situation you were in?

    Goodluck with your new book, I’ll be reading it soon once these exams are over 😉 !

    Kind Regards,

    • kate says:

      Hi Laura

      Wow I’m always amazed when I hear my book is being taught at a university! As an arts grad I find that simultaneously thrilling and a bit disconcerting… Anyway, thanks to your tutor for suggesting it. I’m glad you enjoyed it and felt like you got a new perspective on the issues, that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve by writing it. I feared as I was writing that I might glamorise the sex industry but also that I would misrepresent it in other ways: I think I gave a pretty fair picture of both the good and bad sides to the many parts of it I encountered. I’m curious when people who haven’t encountered the sex industry personally ask if I haven’t glamorised it; I assure you that there are some pretty good aspects and I wonder where the expectation comes from that it must be all bad. That’s why I wrote the book, to show that it wasn’t what people assume.

      Thanks for the message Laura and good luck with the studies.


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