Lyndon Riggall introduces readers to an exciting program that harnesses technology to connect authors and readers. Discover the Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast and enjoy some Summer listening over the festive season.
I am sitting in a room at the top of a flight of stairs that meanders its way curiously through the small alley between a wine bar and an Asian fusion restaurant. Objects are being moved around me—arranged and organised and tidied amongst green ferns and well-lit windows. Somewhere beyond my sightline is a bright light that illuminates the room, and as everything is finally organised or cleared away, a voice says, “Okay, ready when you are.”
In the chair opposite me is a great Tasmanian writer. I smile at them, and then we start to talk.
Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast | Episode 1| Kyle Perry
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As we head to the end of 2020 and a time of reflecting on the year that has been, as well as the new one to come, if there is anything that we have learned in this strange, unprecedented time, it is that we can’t take anything for granted. One of the great casualties of the era of Covid-19 for me personally was this year’s Tamar Valley Writers Festival, a biennial event that brought an enormous burst of creativity and literary energy to the north of the state every two years. Many members of CBCA Tasmania will be familiar with the festival and its delightful children’s program, and it is a deep and tragic irony that in a time in which reading and writing have never been more valuable it has been impossible to hold the festival in its traditional manner. Yet one fateful day brought me a call from festival president, Mary Machen. It might just be, she suggested, that a small part of the festival’s energy and value could be captured in a different way. She had a plan, and asked me if I would be keen to be part of it. I jumped at the opportunity.
|The Bluffs, Kyle Perry|
Mary’s plan came to fruition, and in consultation with Michael O’Neill of MVisuals, the Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast was born. Each month, Annie Warburton and I chat to great local Tasmanian writers about their work, their creative process and the influence of Tasmania on their craft. Over time, it is our hope that this collection will broaden, grow, and offer inspiration and insight into the value of Tasmanian writing not just to our island itself, but nationally and internationally too. It is nerve-wracking to sit in this chair and to look across the divide at such brilliant writers as the subject of my first interview, Kyle Perry (author of The Bluffs), pretending that the cameras aren’t there and trying to focus on the conversation, but I wouldn’t miss this chance.
|A Treacherous Country|
Allen & Unwin
I am the sort of person that listens to podcasts and watches any series where writers are interviewed, and I have a clear sense of the unexplored questions that I really want the interviewer to be asking. Now I am in charge of those questions, and I love every minute of it. It is a delight to watch and learn from Annie, too, whose recent interview with the author of A Treacherous Country, Kate Kruimink, rights some of the wrongs of Kruimink’s own coronavirus-related challenges of reduced recognition and fanfare following her win of the Vogel Prize this year. We are already discussing what the podcast might be able to do for young readers and writers whose work is primarily for children, but for now it is immensely exciting to simply be part of an experiment and to share a love of stories in any way possible. Rest assured, while the festival might not be overtaking the valley this year with its declaration of love for Tasmanian writers and their work, it is alive and well. Even when our director calls “Cut!” it can’t shake the smile from my face.
Lyndon Riggall is a writer, teacher—and now podcast host!—from Launceston. The Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Facebook video and YouTube, and more details and episode links can be found at https://www.tamarvalleywritersfestival.com.au/podcast. You can find Lyndon on Twitter @lyndonriggall or at http://www.lyndonriggall.com
Editor's Note: What a great post to wind up the year - a year that has challenged us to explore new ways to connect authors, illustrators and readers in different ways.
Festive greetings to all our readers, regular and occasional, please join us again in 2021.