As many of you may know the Emerging Writers’ Festival is going on right now and there’s so much great stuff happening. Last night I made it to the Wheeler Centre for the first of the 15 Minutes of Fame launches. It’s a fun little event that will launch or relaunch 16 books, journals and zines over four nights. What’s more it’s hosted by Estelle Tang, a young woman with many skills including a most resonant and alluring voice. It’s on at 7pm every night until Thursday. And did I mention they serve lovely wine!

The first in the spotlight last night was the ever-charming Karen Andrews and the ‘landmark’ book of blog writing she published, Miscellaneous Voices. Her project of publishing blog-writing in a book is a deceptively simple idea but very innovative. I find the process and the problems she had to solve endlessly interesting and the metaphors that come out of it translate so well to all sorts of writing and publishing. I was struck by the imagery in a phrase one reviewer used to describe the editing process the posts went through as ‘gussied-up’. It’s quite vivid and I think I’ll keep it in mind when editing my own and others’ writing. Karen shared the stage with one of the bloggers in the book, Carla Del Vecchio, who noted that her piece had emerged from out of an online community of writers as well as readers. Those of you who have been enjoying Maddie’s Friday exercises here, will be interested to hear that Carla’s blog post had begun as a response to a prompt from a NaNoWriMo exercise.

The next writer was Andee Jones who read from her very funny memoir, Kissing Frogs, about her search for ‘mature love’. After finishing full-time work she found herself, via internet dating sites, on a series of dates: something she had always considered a domain of American sitcoms. Andee herself was a very amusing speaker and her writing was full of gems like describing one hapless Romeo as ‘cream puffy in shape and texture’. This puffy one was the very same Romeo that unashamedly explained to her that being a lady meant she was a part of the ‘weaker sex that deserves extra care’. She really did have the audience both gasping and laughing at her tragic-comic tale.

Our fearless host now switched in seconds from sexual misadventures to a possum looking for a home with writer and illustrator Lucienne Noontil. ‘Do you know what illustrator means?’ asked Lucienne, regressing the audience back to kindergarten and the pantomime feel of storytime. Possum Tale is about one very cute possum wandering its suburban landscape, backpack in tow, in search of new digs. The change of pace was great fun, but so too was the story of Lucienne as writer, who felt a great freedom in writing her book for her ‘little critics’.

The final writer was memoirist and travel writer Joel Magarey who wrote Exposure, a global travel narrative with a psychological edge. Joel found himself ditching his career as a journalist and much-loved girlfriend in search of a cure for his ‘busy head’. On his journeys, he sought to find a place for himself within close-knit indigenous communities of Fiji, Alaska and Bolivia but without much luck. He had success though in the Matopos hills of Zimbabwe and in submitting himself to the web of human relationships there, he found his pathological anxiety fading away. Joel was appealingly candid and considered under the spotlight and his stories of post-catholic sexual hang-ups had me yet again squirming in my sturdy Wheeler Centre seat.

If you’re sad you missed last night, then you can catch two of these writers in conversation again with Estelle Tang (I know! She’s so accommodating) at the Kill Your Darlings podcast. But she’ll also be grilling another twelve writers over the next three nights so drop in to the Wheeler Centre and check them out. We’d love to hear from you here with your thoughts if you can make it.

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