Don’t miss Booktopia’s Finest at the 2014 Sydney Writer’s Festival

by |May 19, 2014

Looking for things to see at The Sydney Writer’s Festival?

Come along and hear some experts from Booktopia chat about the wonderful world of books…

Caroline Baum

The Life and Times of Alice Walker

What: Internationally celebrated writer Alice Walker is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple though she has written six other novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books and volumes of essays and poetry. She recently published a collection of essays Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way and a new book of poetry The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers.

Alice is a committed activist and believes that developing compassion is a critical task each one of us must undertake. Her work powerfully articulates the issues she is most passionate about. She is interviewed by Caroline Baum and joined onstage by special guest Archie Roach.

When: Wednesday, May 21 2014,  7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

How Much: $55/$45.

Sian Prior: Shy

What: Journalist and musician Sian Prior has been writing about the arts and popular culture for more than twenty years. In an intimate conversation with Caroline Baum, Sian talks about her heartbreaking new book Shy: A Memoir. In Shy, Sian applies her journalistic skills to investigate the intense shyness that has infected every aspect of her life since childhood. This is also the story of her painful breakup with her partner of 10 years.

When: Thursday, May 22 2014, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM.

Where: Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: $14.

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

What: Presented by Caroline Baum, the documentary Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in the cotton fields of Georgia, through violent racism and poverty to her recognition as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Colour Purple. Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth offers audiences a penetrating look at the life and art of an artist, self-confessed renegade and human rights activist. Alice Walker speaks briefly after the screening.

When: Thursday, May 22 2014,  4:30 PM – 6:00 PM.

Where: Wharf Theatre 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: $18/$14.

Alex Monroe: A Memoir of Making Things

What: Alex Monroe is a world-renowned jeweller, whose work is inspired by nature and the countryside. Alex started making his own jewellery in the late eighties out of a small workshop in a picturesque cobbled Victorian yard in south London, which he still uses today.

Alex’s book Two Turtle Doves: A Memoir of Making Things is about a life spent making beautiful objects and how he transforms fleeting thoughts into exquisite pieces of jewellery. He speaks with Caroline Baum.

When: Friday, May 23,  10:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

Where: Wharf Theatre 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: $20/$14.

Kate Ceberano

What: Acclaimed chanteuse Kate Ceberano is an accomplished singer, songwriter and now author with her memoir, I’m Talking. Join Kate as she chats with Caroline Baum about the incredible journey from her childhood in Melbourne to her early success and her current status as one Australia’s best loved performers, as well as all the bits in between.

When: Saturday, May 24,  4:30 PM – 5:30 PM.

Where: Pier 2/3 Main Stage, Pier 2/3, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: $20/$14.

Fear and Loathing in a First Draft

What: “The first draft of anything is shit”, said Hemingway, while Helen Garner described one of hers as “like dragging great shaggy ropes of seaweed out of my guts”. First-draft terror is familiar to many writers as they wrestle with procrastination, avoidance, futility and sometimes crippling doubt. But paradoxically, many of these ‘problems’ are also essential components of creativity. Writers’ consultant Alison Manning and novelist Charlotte Wood talk to Caroline Baum about the psychology of facing down the first draft.

When: Sunday, May 25,  11:30 AM – 12:30 PM.

Where: Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: $14.

John Purcell

Forest for the Trees: Writers & Publishing in 2014

What: A one-day seminar looking at the current state of publishing for Australian writers. It brings together writers, publishers, editors, and booksellers to discuss what is happening in 2014.

Crime writer Michael Robotham, debut novelist Eimear McBride, bookseller John Purcell and a host of other industry figures talk about the challenges of maintaining a career. Publishers will discuss the creative avenues they use to find and promote authors.

The conversation will cover mainstream, digital and independent publishing ending with a panel of industry experts to shine some light on the year ahead.

When: Thursday, May 22, 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

Where: State Library of NSW – Friend’s Room, Mitchell Building, Ground Floor, Mitchell Building State Library of N, Macquarie Street, Sydney.

How Much: $55/$45

The Naked Bookshelf

What: Book collecting is an art and obsession. Join John Purcell alongside French author Jacques Roubaud and Kate Forsyth with special guest author and artist extraordinaire Maira Kalman (via Skype from NY) as they share their library and literary treasures.

When: Thursday, May 22,  10:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

Where: Pier 2/3 Bloomberg Stage, Pier 2/3, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: Free, no bookings.

Sex and Literature

What: Talking about sex can get even the coolest people hot under the collar. John Baxter, Kate Belle and John Purcell reveal their secrets about sex in the written form to Angela Meyer.

John Baxter has written and translated a number of works of erotic fiction and has even compiled an encyclopedia of sexual developments during the 20th and 21st centuries. Kate Belle is a woman of many passions and the author of the erotically charged novel, The Yearning.

John Purcell is the author of the The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy of erotic novels, which he wrote under the pseudonym of Natasha Walker.

When: Thursday, May 22,  1:30 PM – 2:30 PM.

Where: Sydney Dance 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

How Much: Free, no bookings.

For more details on these or any other events go to

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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