Williamstown Literary Festival


Good news! My short story Broken Light won the Ada Cambridge prize at the Williamstown Literary Festival and has been published in the Festival’s 2009 Anthology Beyond Words. It was an equal winner, sharing the prize with Author Jackie Kerin. The prizes were handed out by Joan Kirner (the patron) at the launch of the Festival and the whole evening was a hoot. Actress Alice Garner read excerpts from my story and did such an amazing job bringing my Nonna to life I had to hold back a flood of tears. After the official festivities, there were press photos and a wee queue ofย  ‘fans’ wanting signatures on their anthologies, which just made me giggle, to be h0nest.

I also had the dubious honour of meeting (being pushed around) by an old, ‘seasoned’ reporter for the Melbourne Observer, who rather confusedly asked me several times who won and then turned to CJ and asked him if he was Peter Garrett! When he interviewed me he asked what my husband’s name was and I jokingly said Peter Garrett and he wrote that down, so who knows what the article will say! He asked me several times if I was a housewife and seemed disappointed when I answered each time “I’m a writer”. By this stage Jackie was whispering in devilish tones in my ear, asking me whether my floors were currently sparkling or not, so keeping a straight face was hardly an option.

On Saturday I read an excerpt from Beat in the People’s Choice Awards and soon realised that reading the section about the car accident was perhaps a tad too much of a downer for the occasion and that I possibly had a few people stunned by the depth of my moroseness… will file that away for next time and read something funny instead… It was great to hear works by local writers in the community. I was particularly inspired by the work of a 15 year old boy whose grasp of language belied his years. One of the Penheads (writing group), Peta, came along and has written about it here if you’re interested.


Today (Sunday) I went to a talk by the author ofย  The Zoopekeepers War (which won the inaugural Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction last year), Steven Conte. Steven spoke passionately about his time in Berlin as a young nineteen year old and how it sits behind the impetus for writing the book. As a real treat he read from his diary in 1993 when the idea of the book first came to him. So many authors talk about a virtually fully formed idea ‘dropping into my head’ (which, generally, is also my experience) but are rarely able to articulate it much beyond this, but with a distinct lack of ego, Steven read to us the words of an impassioned young man with a seed of a vision, and it was a real privilege to hear it.ย  Steven also spoke about finding inspiration for fiction from walking the suburbs. Apparently Dickens did this – spending equal amounts of time walking to writing. Some scholars argue that this pacing is reflected in his prose. Steven also spoke about being a long distance runner at school and likened this to the process of writing long fiction – that it’s a long, tedious task after an inspiring moment, and that the journey to publication is travelled via a dogged insistence.

I was a sprinter at school, which might go some way to explaining the pace of my book and the time it took to write it… I’m always in such a damn hurry… Still, the work it takes after the excitement of that initial inspired idea should never be underestimated!



Filed under Art, Australia, Fiction, Humour, Inspirational, My Book, Reading, Review, Short Stories, Submission, Writing

14 responses to “Williamstown Literary Festival

  1. I didn’t think your reading was a downer at all. It went a substantial way to generating the necessary diversity that a writers’ festival celebrates. It was great riding those moods in such short segments. I thought you were incredible.


  2. Simonne
    Congratulations on sharing the literary award.
    The only ‘old’ seasoned reporter we have at the Melbourne Observer is me. I have been at Eltham all weekend, nowhere near Williamstown.
    I suspect you may have come across Larry Noye, an 80-year-old reader, who often sends us unsolicited reports of what is happening in the west.
    Obviously, you wouldn’t expect us to be responsible for the behaviour of our readers, but I’m sorry if Larry upset your night, Larry is fresh out of hospital, and would have only had your best interests at heart.
    It’s unfortunate that you decided it was funny to give him wrong information. I guess that’s how the whole “I was misquoted” germ spreads.


    • Hi Ash, thanks for clarifying. Larry was very confused and extremely pushy, but ultimately harmless I suppose. He said he was representing The Observer as a reporter and was quite adamant about getting the story for your paper. I’m not sure if all your readers tell people they’re reporters – I guess next time I should ask to see credentials? ๐Ÿ˜‰
      He seemed sure my husband was Peter Garrett, which was pretty cute and I did my best to stop him writing it down and I’m fairly certain sure I succeeded. Not sure how the whole misquoted thing fits in with readers posing as reporters, but we’ll just put it down to experience on everyone’s behalf I suppose!


  3. Yayay for you, congratulations! Having an actor read your work must have been fantastically amazing too.


  4. That is FANTASTIC news Simonne! You are the embodiment of a full-time writer, something I aspire to be some day soon, as the drudgery of office life continues to abuse my soul…haha, ok maybe I’m being a tad melodramatic ๐Ÿ˜‰ . But congrats again, your talent for writing positions you for great things, can’t wait to hear more!


    • Thanks Romi. Unfortunately I am not the embodiment of a full-writer, that is far off methinks, but still, it’s the goal, and it does get closer, inch by agonising inch!
      (Not that we’re dramatic or anything…)


  5. Haha, I love your description of the ‘seasoned’ reporter (whom we now know as Larry). Wonder what he wrote? A shame I missed Conte’s talk – sharing the kernel of the idea of his novel. I would have really enjoyed that.

    Congrats again!


    • Dear old Larry…!
      Conte’s talk was really good – it was obvious how much thought and work had gone into it too. And yes, him sharing that divine spark of inspiration was such a great thing to share at a writer’s festival.


  6. I love to read my work out loud, whether in a crowd or alone at home. There is something about giving life to the words that makes them truly sing. Congratulations on your award.


  7. Congratulations on the Ada Cambridge award!!!

    I’m sorry for not stopping by to check up more often, but I do eventually peek in on my fellow writers.

    Nice job Simonne


  8. Dear Simmone..
    I just love the internet and the way it leads you down intriguing e-paths..I was checking out the Emerging Writers’ Festival website..scrolled down the list of presenters..saw your name..knew you were the winner.came to your website..read about how Larry ‘Noye had got up to his tricks again ..and tagged your site so I can revisit it and imbibe its literary wealth..have also posted a nice pic of you and Jackie on our home page but haven’t mastered the art of inserting text! (to come). Congratulations on your Ada win and hope we see you next year. Angela Altair WLF Committee


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