Ambitious agenda for writers fest

Enthusiastic: Newcastle Writers Festival director Rosemarie Milsom on Friday announces the program for the event, which runs April 7-9. Picture: Simone De Peak

The 2017 Newcastle Writers Festival is a “milestone”, in the words of director Rosemarie Milsom.

“It’s the biggest and most ambitious program ever,” Milsom said at the launch of the festival program on Friday at Newcastle Regional Library.

There are more than 140 writers involved in the program of more than 80 events, which runs April 7-9 with a hub at Newcastle City Hall and events in nearby venues, including a marquee in Wheeler Place for the first time.

Guest speaker for the popular opening night event on April 7 at the Civic Theatre is Michael Leunig, one of Australia’s most beloved cartoonists.

Among the many headliners participatingare Richard Roxburgh, Julia Baird, Sarah Wilson, Peter Doherty, Nick Earls, Clementine Ford, Jackie French, Emily Maguire, Tara Moss, Alice Pung, Tracey Spicer, Holly Throsby and Chris Uhlmann.

The opening day schedule on Friday, April 7, focuses on local writers and all but one of the sessions are free.

The History Council of NSW is bringing a panel of historians and publishing experts for a masterclass on April 7 that will help guide people through the writing process, from research to publication,” Milsom said.

Roxburgh, actor and now children’s book writer, will feature in the main program and also the free Family Day event in Wheeler Place on Saturday, April 8.

Sarah Wilson, the”no sugar” entrepreneur, has changed tack and her new book explores her experience of anxiety. She appears on April 8.

Journalist Julia Baird will discuss Queen Victoria: An Intimate Portrait, her weighty biography of the famous royal on April 8.

One of the panel highlights is Getting Even: The Politics of Resentment,featuring Jonathan Biggins, Charles Firth, George Megalogenis and Chris Uhlmann on April 9.

In The Priest and the Writer,Ailsa Piper and Monsignor Tony Doherty will discuss their unlikely friendship, which developed after exchanging a number of letters. The free conversation is on April 9.

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