The Perth Writer’s Festival 2011 brought together, yet again, a great collection of writers from around Australia and overseas. The theme was ‘Truth and Fiction’ and authors discussed how they use truth within their work, to what extent fiction features in truth, and how sometimes the only way to tell a true story is to ficitonalise it. I went to a very interesting debate about the ‘Death of Print’ and whether or not the book, as we know it, will become a thing of the past. The general consensus was that the book will be around for a long time yet, and will exist alongside the e-book, which has yet to reach its full potential.
I met some truly talented authors, among them Simone Lazaroo (Sustenance) and Amanda Curtin (The Sinkings). Both are talented women whose novels are in the hard-to-put-down genre. I heard from overseas author Yan Lianke, who lives in China, where all of his past 4 novels have been banned, but still he continues to write, because for him the topics in his books are too important not to write about.
What I don’t get is why the festival, year after year, is predominantly frequented by the grey rinse set, those who are retired or not far from it. In the past 2 years I’ve shared classes with a great number of students who all claim they want to be ‘a writer’, and I’m sure that across all of Perth’s universities there are hundreds of students with the ambition of being a writer of some sort. Where are these young people then? The ratio of young people at the Perth Writer’s Festival is minimal, barely a blip on the radar. This is the one opportunity to meet a writer face to face, get an autographed book, and hear first hand what writers experience, how they craft their work, the highs, the lows, the problems encountered and how they overcome them. I find it sad that there aren’t younger people attending the festival, making their presence know. It makes me wonder: Where have all the young people gone?