an image of Sydney Opera House


It is always wonderful to be around other writers, and after a heady few days at the 10th Sydney Writers' Festival it has been predictably difficult to wind down. Luckily I flew straight back to Adelaide and the organising side of a Wordfire literary event, where writers and writing were still the main dish on the menu.

But back to Sydney, and I doubt there is a more ravishing setting for a literary festival than the wharf-side at Walsh Bay, with its harbour backdrop and stunning architecture. My session on Mothers and Daughters (see below) at the Bangarra Mezzanine was packed with a wonderfully attentive audience; perhaps they had been warmed up at earlier events, like the one I went to that featured Lionel Shriver, Rachel Seiffert and Jo Gardiner discussing the intimate relationships of their recent novels.

That same evening, Random House hosted a cocktail party at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Circular Quay West. Guests crowded onto a rooftop terrace to admire the night lit harbour bridge, the opera house and dazzling city skyscrapers. I met some amazing writers, including Gail Jones who had just flown in from the UK's Hay Festival, and spent an engaging half-hour chatting to British children's writer Philip Ardagh, and John Boyne - a New York Times best selling author who hails from Dublin. Eventually that conversation segued into one with the charming Kate Forsythe, who lives and writes in Manly, and fascinating Sugarbabe, Holly Hill, whose book had been published that very day.

On Sunday morning a small boat took us spinning across the harbour for a session at the inspired location of Cockatoo Island. The island, with its cavernous convict-built architecture was the perfect space in which to pitch camp and discuss Stories of Flight and Asylum (see below). Empty on our arrival, when the ferry docked a crowd of intrepid festival fans soon filled the chairs and helped dispel the chill. Some of them asked if I would put the notes for my talk on the website, so both sessions can be accessed here:

Mothers & Daughters: Friday 1st June 2007

Stories of Flight & Asylum: Sunday 3rd June 2007