Perth Writer’s Festival 2011

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?


4 thoughts on “Perth Writer’s Festival 2011

  1. Hi Sonja,

    I too am disheartened by the small number of ‘young/emerging writers’ attending the Perth Writers Festival. In the case of this year’s Festival, I attribute these relatively small numbers to the Soundwave and Future Music festivals both occurring over the long weekend. The Monday sessions also seem to host smaller numbers of audience members as the parking situation at UWA is limited, due to the uni running classes on the Monday.

    It’s a real shame, but I think that if people are serious about Writing as a career, they’ll make the effort to start networking with authors and publishers and get as much information as they can.


    • Heya, I forgot about the music festivals that were on at the same time. Geez, does that put me in the ‘old’ category? đŸ˜‰ Maybe it’s a matter of topic? Didn’t the guys say in the ‘Death of Print’ that readers in their late teens/20s were reading more fantasy genre? Like the Twighlight stuff – as an example. I’m sure there is a whole range of other stuff out there. Maybe if the festival did a feature with those kinds of books/ authors, it might draw a younger crowd… just early morning musings…


  2. To answer your question about where are all the young people – I think they are all up north on mine sites earning the big bucks!

    Good writeup on the event. I was interested in seeing the Death of Print but didn’t take the opportunity. I’m not surprised at the verdict that books will be around for a long while to come. I do wonder though if “book piracy” is going to be the next big hurdle for publishing…


    • A friend of mine pointed out that there were several music festivals on at the same time, too. As for the Death of print, it was a good discussion. Regarding piracy, they authors commented that the music and film industry have gone through this kind of transition already and that along the way the industry will find ways of dealing with piracy. One person even said that the US government had done a study to see the effect of piracy on the movie industry and it turns out the damage was minimal. I think they even said that it appeared to act as a sort of free advertising – people would see a pirate copy and then go and buy the real thing. It’s a time of transition, which should be interesting, exciting even, to see what can happen in the world of books. And in the mean time, being a bit of a traditionalist, I’ll keep reading my ‘real’ books.


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