Earlier this week, I attended the Brisbane Writer’s Festival and had an amazing time. Part of what made the BWF2015 so excellent was the panel discussions with authors. Our very own Brisbane-based girl, Sophie Overett, had the opportunity to interview and host these panels!
Hi Sophie! Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for agreeing to answer some of my burning questions about the fantastic Brisbane Writer’s Festival 2015!
Let me start by saying that it was an incredible event, and I thought that your moderated panels and interviews were the best! How did the opportunity to moderate these panels come about?
Thanks so much! It was a thrill to be involved as much as I was this year, and always a pleasure to work with the awesome team at BWF. I’m on great terms with them both through working at Queensland Writers Centre and independently through my writing, so the producers on the team knew I had experience in moderating and my particular love of Young Adult Fiction.
I was already teaching Pen to Paper, an introduction to creative writing workshop at the festival, and have done for the last three years, so when they approached me to moderate a couple of panels it was easy to say yes!
Were you nervous interviewing these famous authors, or did you find they were friendlier and easier to talk with than you had expected?
I was lucky with the Pathways to Publication panel with Kristina Schulz (UQP) and authors, David Burton and Eliza Henry-Jones as I knew Kristina and David already. Eliza was a real delight too, so it meant that the flow of conversation was easy and that the audience stayed engaged.
Speaking to Cassandra Clare was a bit more of a scary prospect! She has an enormously passionate readership and has huge international success. Luckily, she was a really wonderful person to speak with, generous with her time, her answers and her advice.
Out of the events you moderated, what was your favorite panel (for both how the audience responded, and for the answers you received)?
This is a really difficult one! Both the panels were terrific, but I’d probably say teaching Pen to Paper, the introduction to creative writing workshop, was my favourite. Being able to engage with and explore the anatomy of story with new writers is one of the perks of my job, and BWF always has such a positive energy around it. I had a great class too – a really talented bunch, and I can’t wait to see where they go with their writing next.
Outside of your BWF events, you’re an up-and-coming young writer with several publications already under your belt. Tell me a little about what type of stories you write!
I’m a bit all over the shop when it comes to writing. I love short fiction, and write a lot about family and domestic relationships, magic, and what I like to call collateral damage stories – so what happens to those on the outer fringes of more traditional stories. My novel, The Rabbits, explores all these things too and this year I was able to develop it at the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop in Portland, Oregon which was a pretty amazing experience.
I’ve also written a young adult novel about a boarding school in Far North Queensland which was shortlisted this year for The Text Prize and is now under consideration at a major Australian publisher. Currently, I am working on another young adult novel.
You have your own blog, too! What can readers and visitors to your blog expect to find there?
I often joke that industry people following my social media are probably expecting much more professional things and are met instead with cats, books and wine! I do blog a lot about what I’m reading, upcoming national festivals, film and fashion though, so if those are up your alley, you should check out www.sophieoverett.com.
I know you work at Queensland Writer’s Center too. What are some of the opportunities that local writers can experience by visiting QWC?
Queensland Writers Centre is a support and resource centre for writers and writing across the state. It’s a terrific organisation to be a part of. We offer workshops year-round, as well as mentorships, free events, advocacy and a digital magazine which I produce at www.writingqueensland.com.au.
Let’s talk books for a moment. What’s been your favorite read so far this year? (Or top three, if there are too many to choose from!)
Man! I could talk about books all day. My favourite new book this year has got to be Kelly Link’s Get In Trouble. She has an uncanny ability to tell these wild and eccentric stories that unravel an emotional truth so raw and so tangible they stay with you for months afterwards, if not years (certainly stories from her earlier collection, Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen have for me). I basically want to live in her brain.
I also discovered a new (old) author, Anne Rule, a phenomenal true crime author. Her books are layered, intricate and absorbing. I’ve managed to read three of her books in the last couple of months and have quite a few more on order at my local bookshop.
Looking back on the crazy week that has been BWF2015, what was the best moment you had overall – was it awe-inspiring, hilarious, heart-warming?
There was so much to love at this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival. The How to Be a Heroine panel with Kate Grenville, Jane Caro, Sophie Hannah and Sarah Waters was a terrific one. Seeing Laurie Penny at the Good Thinking session on her book, Unspeakable Things was a fascinating look at the changing face of feminism and its relationship to economics. Probably my favourite thing though was doing Kelly Link’s short story masterclass. Getting insight into her process, boiling short fiction back to its basics and getting to learn from an author I respect and admire as much as her was a pretty amazing experience.
And finally, where can my readers find you on the internet?
I’m all over the internet! You can find me first and foremost at my website, www.sophieoverett.com, but also on my twitter, my Facebook page, and my Instagram. I also am one-half of a podcast called Lady Parts which explores women in genre cinema.
Thank you so much Sophie for visiting my blog and telling me all about your experience at BWF2015! I hope to see you again there next year!
Thank you! It was a total pleasure!