If you’re a bibliophile like me, Christmas has come early! The Mudgee Readers’ Festival is taking over the town August 10th-13th with a program to suit even the pickiest palate. Whether you’re into thriller, romance, historical fiction or want to try your hand at zine making, this year’s program truly does have something for everyone. The full list of sessions and ticketing information is available at mudgeereaders.com.
Earlier this week, I sat down with #MUDRF17 General Manager, Portia Lindsay, as well as The Dangers of Truffle Hunting author, Sunni Overend, to discuss this year’s festival.
Summer: Are there any sessions in this year's program that you're particularly excited about?
Portia: I’m SO excited to see Holly Throsby in conversation about her amazing novel Goodwood, and after the awesome storytelling workshop last weekend I can’t wait to see our local storytellers share their tales at the Story Club Showcase. Art Now with Text Classics is shaping up beautifully and I’m also excited to hear from Melanie Joosten and Roanna Gonsalves about their work.
Summer: I LOVED Goodwood and can’t wait to see Holly’s Small Town Character session at the Town Hall Theatre too! Do you intentionally try to match authors with specific venues?
Portia: Like food and wine, we do try to match events and venues where possible. This year, for instance, we have Sunni Overend’s stylish novel being discussed at The Cellar by Gilbert – a perfect match – as well as the Poetry Salon in that lovely space. RANT! is a natural fit for the Mudgee Brewing Company and we’ve got our bibliotherapist meeting ‘patients’ at the wonderfully inspiring WarBehr. Upstairs at Elton’s Eating + Drinking is a sunny and intimate place for our MRF Book Clubs.
Summer: Speaking of Sunni Overend… When did you know that you needed to be a writer?
Sunni: I think I write to provide escape and insight, and I mean provide to readers as well as me - the writer! Writing really is a therapy session for many writers, coming to terms with relationships, conjuring epiphanies about exchanges with fellow humans, and writing also allows us to build any world we want to explore all day long - it’s kind of a form of manifestation. I think I was about 23 and reading a beach read when I realised I hadn’t smiled that much in a while, and to have something take you out of yourself, transport, uplift, inspire, entertain, it really is quite a light bulb moment. It occurred to me then that if I created my own stories, I could construct any world I wanted, and (Universe willing!) get paid for it. I’ve always been creative and a bit of a seeker. At the time of writing my first book I’d completed my design degree a few years earlier, was running a small fashion business I’d built, and was finishing a yoga teacher training course. When I moved into writing I didn’t feel like I was leaving any of those things behind, more building on what they’d taught me. It’s actually amazing how much one discipline can feed into another and as one grows through one discipline, it can improve ones understanding of another.
Summer: When you're writing a novel, do you still read other novels or do you find it too distracting?
Sunni: I’m actually usually too brain-fatigued to read while I’m writing so I admit I become a bit of a screen queen. This is fun but it does mean that if I’m writing most of the time, I’m missing out on a lot of great books. I think it’s easier to find non-fiction that I enjoy, but nothing satisfies like excellent fiction, though it’s just so hard to find something that has the themes you love in a writing style that works for you. I’m horribly picky and a slow reader - I wish I was neither. I recently (finally!!!!) read the classic The Bride Stripped Bare and loved it. I was actually quite surprised by how much it related to my own book The Dangers of Truffle Hunting, such a sexy escape.
Summer: What are you currently working on?
Sunni: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my second novel, coming out in March 2018, title TBC. Not a sequel to The Dangers of Truffle Hunting, but for similar readers - I believe you’ve read and enjoyed the upcoming book, Summer Land!
Summer: YES, I have and it’s incredible.
Love a good holiday read? You can find me chatting with Sunni Overend, author of The Dangers of Truffle Hunting, on Saturday 12 August at 3pm at The Cellar by Gilbert for a discussion about Love, Sex, Wine & Truffles! That evening – I will be at The Brewery to RANT my heart out at 7pm. Get your tickets NOW!