National news

Kids & YA Festival trends on Twitter

A great time was had by all at Writing NSW’s biennial Kids & YA Festival. The keynote speaker Jacqueline Harvey led the line-up of top-notch authors and publishers. It was a high-energy day that closed with some great theatre as authors pitched their works to publishers. Organised by Belinda Murrell, the event was the fourth-highest trender on Twitter, edged out by the football and a major political event, thanks to some frantic tweeting by attendees. We had to lead with this article because it feels like a triumph whenever books are mentioned in the same breath as football in Australia’s media.

Brisbane Writers Festival program is live

The Brisbane Writers Festival has published its September program and it’s an impressive lineup of more than 200 authors. International drawcards include human rights barrister and author Geoffrey Robertson; author of The Devil Wears Prada Lauren Weisberger and Scottish author and playwright Irvine Welsh. Authors from Oz include Kate Grenville, Dervla McTiernan, Heather Morris, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Morris Gleitzman. Special events include three pre-festival dinners with Irvine Welsh, Lauren Weisberger and Veronica Roth, Fleur Ferris, Davina Bell, Cally Black, Jared Thomas, Peter Carnavas, Sue McPherson, Jessica Watson, A. L. Tait, Lance Balchin and more. Tickets are on sale now.

Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’s Festival announces line-up

Word of Mouth TV loves to support writers festivals, and the Inaugural Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival has just announced its program. It will be held in Nowra, on Saturday, August 4, 2018. A beautiful part of the world, it’s perfect for a gathering of writers. Jackie French, Catherine McKinnon, Eleanor Limprecht, Allison Tait, Alan Baxter, Tim Harris, Dianne Blacklock and Melina Marchetta will all be there to strut their stuff.

Heroines Festival launches inaugural program

Looks like there’s a lot going on down south. The Heroines Festival has released its program for its inaugural event. To be held in Thirroul, on Saturday, September 8, 2018, drawcards include Miles Franklin shortlister Catherine McKinnon, Word of Mouth TV’s own Kate Forsyth and historical fiction novelists Anna Westbrook and Pamela Hart. The festival celebrates the talents of women writers who reclaim, restore, and reimagine women’s stories. If the success of the Stella Prize is anything to go by, this femfest may be on to something – a great segue to the next Stella news item.

New Stella Director

The Stella Prize has appointed Michelle Scott Tucker as its new executive director. Michelle has published her first book, a biography of Elizabeth Macarthur titled Life at the Edge of the World. Michelle is a member of the Writers Victoria Committee of management and is a director of her own management consulting company. She hails from a career in government and business. Within a very short timeframe, the Stella Prize has become one of Australia’s most pre-eminent literary prizes.

Higgins for Dymocks GM

Also on the appointments front, Sophie Higgins, former head of Dymocks Books marketing and merchandise, has been promoted to Dymocks Books general manager. Sophie will report to Dymocks managing director Steve Cox.

Readers vote Nevermoor No.1

Speaking of Dymocks, members of Dymocks Booklovers club have cast a combined 5,500 votes for their favourite children’s book of all time. The winner was Queensland writer Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. Dymonck’s Kids’ Top 51 campaign is conducted annually.

Historical award winners announced

The Australian Historical Association has award the W K Hancock prize to Miranda Johnson for Land is our History: Indigeneity, Law, and Settler State.
The Kay Daniels Award was awarded to Joan Kavanagh and Dianne Snowden for Van Diemen’s Women: A History of Transportation to Australia. Alexis Wright, meanwhile, has won the biennial Magarey Medal for Biography for Tracker.

Shortlists posted

It’s that time of year. Shortlists have been announced for the State Library of NSW’s National Biography Award 2018; the Bilby Awards 2018; the Davitt Awards; Australian Christian Book of the Year 2018, and the Environment Award for Children’s Literature 2018.

Copyright Australia launches Fellowship

The Copyright Agency has created a Reading Australia Fellowship for Teachers of English and Literacy worth $15,000 – a great opportunity for all our teacher readers.

International news

Highlights on the international front include:

• The UK Society of Authors has challenged Britain’s largest publishers after survey figures revealed an alarming plunge in writers’ income of 42% since 2005. The survey of more than 5,500 professional writers for the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society also showed that the number of professional authors (those who spend more than half their working hours writing fell from 40% of all published authors in 2005 to just 13.7% in 2018. The Society of Authors estimated they were being paid just 3% of publishers’ turnover based on their profits, noting shareholders received up to three times the amount paid to authors. The society has called on publishers to state in their accounts what they pay to authors, illustrators and translators in advances, royalties and secondary income.

• A German author, former central banker and Berlin State finance minister Thilo Sarrazing, sues Random House for not releasing a book on Islam.

• Man Booker prize-winners criticise the decision to allow US writers to enter the prestigious contest. Peter Carey has dubbed the rule change an “exercise in global corporate branding”, saying the change reduces the chances for Commonwealth authors.

• The English Patient wins public poll of best Man Booker in 50 years.

• An alternative Nobel prize for literature is being planned in Sweden.

Image Credit: Anita Mathews