High Tea plus three highlights Perth Writers Festival 2018

Insights into a superb range of authors’ works made Perth Writers Festival 2018 a joyful learning experience. Highlights for me included –

Debut novelist…

Louise Allan talking about The Sisters’ Song. What a fabulous session to start with, superbly led by Jane Cornes Mclean.

Louise treated her listeners to a reading from her debut novel and gave a bonus performance, singing the words Ida heard at her first recital! The beauty of her spontaneous performance brought tears to more than my own eyes. To be moved deeply by the emotional plights of Louise’s characters is something many reviewers have commented on and it gave this occasion a touch of poignancy.

Later in the morning, Louise joined co-member of the Doctors’ Writing Club, Michelle Johnston who wrote Dustfall. With their common background as doctors and each embarking on their own debut novels their discussion highlighted the mutual support they enjoyed in the writing process.  It struck me how fortunate one is to find a kindred spirit in the writing process and to have –

  • someone who is supportive and provides invaluable feedback as you write;
  • someone who assists in the redrafting stages;
  • someone who is there to cry with when things go pear-shaped and ultimately,
  • someone who is there to celebrate successes.

Louise and Michelle acknowledged the support of other members in the Club, giving rise to the notion that in my own and others’ former or current professions there would surely be great opportunities for similar writing clubs.

Louise Allan reads and sings for her audience

It was fascinating and informative…

… to hear Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington share about Vasilisa the Wise which sold out very quickly. Congratulations to Serenity Press’s Karen McDermott and Monique Mulligan on the sell-out success of this publication.

The power of storytelling was evoked by Kate’s remarkable talent in her magical telling of one tale during which she held the audience in her hand.

Kate Forsyth tells us one of her tales.


As a farmer’s daughter I was fascinated to learn that Lorena constructs her images from bones, feathers and others items from the environment and related to many of her remarkable images. Sun-bleached rams’ skulls spring to mind as an offering I could readily make!

In Tall Tales and Tru-ish the remarkable Kate was interviewed by ABC’s Conversationalist, Richard Fidler. Kate enchanted her audience with her intimate knowledge of the history of fairy tales and their place in past and present cultures. Always a lover of fairy stories I came away with a deepened respect for their place and purpose through the centuries and affirmation that my grandchildren, like my children, will not be spared their telling.

Kate Forsyth being interviewed by Richard Fidler

Enjoying High Tea can only be a highlight

Natasha Lester’s talk with Lydia Edwards about The Paris Seamstress provided the perfect opportunity for a group of us who’d attended Natasha’s Writers Retreat in April last year to catch up.

Insights into the depth and breadth of Natasha’s research were exemplified in her detailed answers and tightly written prose in the extract she read to us. I am looking forward to reading her novel.

High Tea with Natasha Lester and Lydia Edwards, shared with a group of friends, capturing Dervla McTiernan, author of The Ruin.

Natasha spoke passionately about the fashion industry and how, as an art form, it has a rightful place alongside more traditionally assigned works of art, illustrating her point with images of classic garments by Dior and Chanel.

Together with this, she expressed a strong view about the current trend of an excessively high turnover of fashion garments, pointing out that Australia disposes of fabric at an astonishing rate, ranking as the second highest country in the world.

I hear her cry for the art of sewing to be taught again, along with other skills such knitting.  It was a curious combination of decadence as we sipped tea with our cakes, while considering ways in which we, as members of all ages within the audience and the community, could enable the young people of today to see value in vintage clothes and the prospect of recycling and reusing fabrics. Natasha’s initiative in her year of vintage clothes is one that adds a personal dimension in assuaging this issue.

Natasha Lester’s High Tea left much food for thought.

Beyond Rural Romance

When Fleur read an extract from Suddenly One Summer in her session chaired by Tess Woods it was a delight to hear how she weaves her intimate knowledge of rural WA, exemplified in more than one person learning that sucking pebbles alleviates thirst in the harsh dry land!

Fleur McDonald interviewed by Tess Woods, reads from Suddenly One Summer.

All of these writers, some of whom I am about to read for the first time, left a distinct impression of the spirit of the Festival – that Western Australia has a breadth and depth of talent that is remarkable, rich and enduring and which thrives in highly supportive community. Their unique talents were a delight to savour from the diverse range of writers at this year’s Festival. I look forward to 2019!

Perth Writers Festival added to my ‘to be read’ pile!


ES Dunn - Susan is a writer based in Perth's Darling Range, Western Australia. Her love for writing began as a child and is a life-long passion. Susan is also passionate about reading and attributes much of her learning from the wonderful literature she keeps discovering.

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