Festival Of The Book

Imperial BedroomsHighlighters and pens ready? Check. Reading positions selected? Check. Sleep caught up? Er, who needs sleep?

The launch today of the Brisbane Writers Festival program, coupled with the fact that the Byron Bay and Melbourne Writers Festivals’ programs are already out, means that we are officially entering the festivals of the book, writer, and reader.

Which means that I am madly highlighting, circling, and agonising over which sessions to attend when. And which session to attend when there is a clash, as there invariably regularly is at such high-calibre events.

For booklovers, be they readers or writers or both, writing festivals are akin to annual religious pilgrimages, with enlightenment found courtesy of the authors and panels.

The festivals are also likely to clean out our bank accounts, with book-buying fiends such as myself best frisked for our weapons-of-choice credit cards on the way through. Nothing short of confiscation or cutting up of credit cards will prevent me from (legitimately—I only steal from family) obtaining the books of the authors whose stories (and stories behind stories) the festival unveils.

This means, of course, that my mini mountain of un-read books doubles in size. But so too—if it’s at all possible—does my desire to take the phone off the hook, take the internet offline, and to hunker down and read.

American PsychoI’m excited every year by the festival line-ups, but this year I’m particularly stoked as two of my long-time favourite writers are heading down under. Bret Easton Ellis, he of the likes of American Psycho, Less Than Zero, and the freshly minted Imperial Bedrooms, which is currently in transit to me courtesy of this online bookstore (see, that credit card again—and the festivals haven’t even started) is making his first trip to Australia courtesy of the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Meanwhile Joss Whedon, the genius behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more recently The Dollhouse, will be packing out the Melbourne Town Hall on the first night of the Melbourne Writers Festival. I say packing out because his session has already sold out—I missed out on a ticket, am completely gutted, and am very seriously wondering what Eliza Dusku’s Dollhouse character Echo would do to get herself in there were she me…

Regardless of whether I manage to make it in to see Whedon (thankfully I at least have a ticket for Easton Ellis), nothing quite matches the buzz I get from writers’ festivals. I’ll be blogging about the sessions I attend at each of them, kicking off with the cosy Byron Bay.

I have highlighters and pens ready to plan out the session logistics. I am testing out the best reading positions as I read authors’ back catalogues in preparation. Sadly the two former mean that the latter—catching up on or stockpiling sleep—is impossible. But when it comes to writers’ festivals, I’ll take the two out of three.