Writers' Unleashed Festival Wrap Up

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Writers' Unleashed Festival. Now in it's 5th year, this festival based in the Sutherland Shire aims to bring writers, readers and professionals together to enhance and share knowledge about writing and the publishing industry. The festival is organised by Jodie Wells-Slowgrove, founder and co-ordinator, as well as a team of assistants who generously volunteer their time to ensure the smooth-running of this wonderful event which provides so many opportunities for writers and readers to connect. Attendees were able to choose between two or three sessions running at the same time, with subjects like 'Writing Stories that Matter' (Susanne Gervay) and 'Promotion is Everything: Blogging and Social Media' (Kate Forsyth).

One of the most interesting sessions for me was the 'Editor Panel - Adult Fiction', where Managing Editors from a variety of Australian Publishing Houses spoke about the market, what they are looking for in terms of content and how best to approach and pitch your manuscript in a competitive environment. This was invaluable information, especially for first-time authors, and the presenters were so clear and encouraging in their speeches. It was very inspiring.

At the end of the day I stumbled into a session called 'Mystery and Magic', hosted by Geoffrey McSkimming and Sue-Anne Webster. You might remember Geoffrey McSkimming's name - he is the author of the insanely popular Cairo Jim adventures, which were a huge hit for over 20 years. Geoffrey has a new series out - 'Phyllis Wong' - aimed at primary school children and young teens, about a girl conjurer who ends up assisting in the investigation of mysterious robberies and other misadventures. This was by far my most favourite session of the day. Together with talented magician Sue-Anne Webster (they met through their shared interest in magic and are now married!), Geoffrey provided an amazingly entertaining session where he was able to touch on his writing process, his plans for the new series and to convey how fulfilling he finds writing for children. There was even some real live magic, performed by Sue-Anne - and I still have no idea how she did it! The couple take their show out to schools to promote Phyllis Wong, and I can highly recommend watching it, if you're lucky enough to get the chance. It was the unexpected highlight of my weekend and a great way to wrap up the festival.

Hope to see you there next year.

Lauren, Library Staff Member