Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 17, 2012

Inspired Writing! Stonnington Literary Festival 2012

I’ve had a lovely afternoon!  It was my pleasure to chair a panel of wonderful authors at the Stonnington Literary Festival, and it was such a pleasure to meet them in person after getting to know them through their books.

The theme was inspiration in writing and the personal stories that influence a writer’s work, and the panel consisted of

  • Helen Brown, author of the bestselling memoir Cleo, How an Uppity Cat Helped Heal a Family (2009) and its follow-up After Cleo Came Jonah subtitled How a crazy kitten and a rebelling daughter turned out to be blessings in disguise (2012).  Cleo sold half a million copies and has been translated into16 languages, and is about to made into a movie by South Pacific Pictures (makers of The Whale Rider). You can read my review of After Cleo, Came Jonah here.   You can read more about Helen on her blog.
  • Toni Jordan, the best-selling author of Addition(2008), Fall Girl (2010) and now Nine Days.   I’ve featured Toni on Meet an Aussie Author and you can read my reviews of Fall Girl and Nine Days by following this link. I’ve met up with Toni at a few literary events here in Melbourne and it is always a pleasure to listen to what she has to say.  The good news is that the movie of Addition is not far away!
  • Meme McDonald is a versatile author across a variety of genres, including the award winning Love Like Water (read my review here and a Sensational Snippet here),  My Girragundji and Put Your Whole Self in which won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction and the Braille & Talking Book award in 1993; and
  • Fiona Wood who’s the well-known writer of TV shows including Marshall Law, Always Greener, The Secret Life of Us, MDA, Headland, Home and Away, Neighbours, and the children’s shows Silver Sun and Sleepover Club. She’s also a script consultant.  Six Impossible Things (2010) is her first YA novel.   It was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year 2011, for Older Readers, and you can read my review here. Fiona’s next book is called Wildlife and you can keep track of its publication date at her blog.

It was fascinating to hear these authors talk about what inspires them, but I was especially interested to hear how supportive the literary community is in Australia.  All the authors spoke highly of their editors and publishers, and how they nurtured these authors above and beyond what anyone might expect.  Well done to everyone at Text Publishing, Allen & Unwin, Pan Macmillan and Arena!

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It was also really nice to receive as a thank-you a  beautiful book called The pride of Prahran : a history of the Prahran Library, 1860-2010 by Stella M. Barber.

Many thanks to my dear ffriend Carol who chauffered me home afterwards, and to Marg Bates from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader for coming along.

Click the book covers to buy a copy of these authors’ books and support Australian writing and publishing!
Nine Days Fall Girl Addition After Cleo Came Jonah Cleo Love Like Water My Girragundji <a href= Six Impossible Things


  1. Sounds like great fun Lisa.
    Love the photo montage in the post.


  2. I remember you tweeting that you were going to do this. Thanks for writing about it. It sounds like an enjoyable afternoon. I’m curious about the book covering the history of Prahran library you were given. I look forward to reading your review of it.


  3. Sounds like a great afternoon Lisa … I do enjoy literary panels. Everything I’ve heard in recent years suggests that there is a lot of mutual support in the our publishing and writing communities. As it should be, but it’s nice to have it confirmed!


  4. Well done on chairing the panel! I admire people who can think on their feet so quickly in such a situation- a real skill, and one that requires a respectful reading of the books beforehand to do well. A new career direction perhaps???


    • Exactly what I said to Lisa elsewhere RJ .. I admire the ability to think on the feet in a situation like this. I’d probably over prepare and would have a confused brain!


  5. All the credit goes to Chelsea Hughes from Stonnington Library who despite having been in Australia only a short while, located four fabulous authors who gave generously of themselves in this session. They made it easy:)


  6. Good for you, Lisa, sounds like it was fun. Now, if I still lived in Malvern I would have attended this!! :-)


  7. How’s the literary festival scene faring in UK, Kim? This was an inner city municipal library festival, run by a network of libraries with events at different venues. (At least in Victoria) most of our libraries are networks of 4-5 branches now, so they have the staff and resources to run this type of festival (3-4 days over a long weekend) as long as they get a bit of top-up funding (which Stonnington could access t via the National Year of Reading).
    But here and there I’ve heard about libraries closing in the UK – so can they run this type of event? Or are there just big festival like Cheltenham & Edinburgh?.


    • There are literally HUNDREDS of lit festivals up and down the country, run mainly by literary bodies and commercial organisations set up specifically to run each festival. Some of these “festivals” might just span a weekend, others will run for a week or more. Honestly, I can’t keep up. I’m thinking of running a list/calendar on the blog next year there are so many of them. It’s like literature is the new rock’n’roll!

      Was planning to go to Cheltenham lit fest this year, but when I added up the cost of train tickets, an overnight stay and then tickets to each session I just couldn’t afford to go, not when I was saving my pennies for Brazil anyway. It’s often cheaper to find a local festival. I went to the Chiswick one last year (about 2 mile walk) — Michael Frayn and his daughter did a session — which was very good, but missed out on this year’s because I had other plans. There was one in Wimbledon when I was away, which is run along similar lines. And over the summer there was one in Holland Park, run in conjunction with an operatic body, which would have been handy, but didn’t have any sessions that particularly appealed to me.

      Anyway, it’s all alive and well. Which is good news, given the state of our libraries, which are closing down or losing funding. I joined mine as a kind of protest about the cuts, thinking I’d probably never use it, but I go all the time and have found it has an amazing resource for literary fiction (especially translated fiction) and for hunting down books that people recommend to me. Don’t know why I didn’t join it 12 years ago!!


      • Well that is good news, Kim, and maybe next time I’m in London I can find one to go to. I wonder if there’s a website that harvests all the dates so that I can find out what’s on when….


        • There isn’t (as far as I know)… which is why I’d like to start one… if only there were more hours in the day!


  8. We’re so glad you enjoyed chairing the discussion, Lisa. It was a wonderful session, full of great conversation and stories, thanks not only to the great authors but also thanks to you! :


  9. That does sound like a nice day. And how awesome that you got to chair the panel!


  10. It was a lot of fun, and I think you did a great job at moderating the session. And you know I am not just saying that because I won a prize, which was fantastic for me! I ended up buying yet more books. Goodness only knows when I will get around to to reading them, but I own them.

    There was a lot to think about said, but Toni Jordan said one thing in particular that really resonated with me!


    • Thanks, Marg:)
      Do not ever worry about having too many books LOL!


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