Local talent shines at Words out West

Some of the region’s best storytellers will take centre stage at the upcoming Words Out West: Western Downs Readers and Writers Festival as part of a jam-packed festival program.

In just one month, some of the country’s best literary minds will converge on the Western Downs to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, with several local identities joining in on presentations and workshops across the four days.

Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh said Words Out West was shaping up to be a huge event, with tickets selling out fast for multiple sessions.

“It’s fantastic to bring Words Out West back to the region for a second year and offer another wonderful opportunity to showcase the region and its people,” Cr McVeigh said.

“This is about celebrating modern storytelling and exploring words beyond the page and it’s great to see so many people already locking it in their calendars, with tickets already sold out for the Warra Schooners & Stories night, and the Writers Retreat at Jimbour House.

“There are still plenty of tickets left for the main festival day which will feature incredible talents such as respected columnist Frances Whiting, Australian author and Indigenous literacy advocate Professor Anita Heiss, true crime podcasters Meshel Laurie and Emily Webb, and novelist Nick Earls.

“There are also some fantastic local faces heading up the festival, including award-winning romance novelist Janet Gover, accomplished journalist and author Madonna King, local journalist and founder of The Country Caller Harry Clarke, and local videographer Geordie Lillis.”

Novelist Janet Gover will be hosting a virtual session as part of the Festival, and said it was lovely to reconnect to the place where she grew up.

“My latest book Close To Home was in part inspired by travelling circuses I saw as a child, and an encounter my pony and I had with an elephant on the banks of Myall Creek. That’s a memory I look forward to sharing,” Ms Gover said.

“I love to hear that my books have made people chuckle or cry. As a writer, those are my goals… to entertain and to make an emotional connection to my readers. I’ll try to do that to the Words Out West audience – make them laugh and maybe reach for a tissue too.

“I also love that Words Out West is using technology to expand their reach – to introduce the audience to the wider world of writing. Books are universal, and it’s wonderful that connections between authors and readers can be more universal too, especially in difficult times.”

Local journalist Harry Clarke said he was thrilled to be invited back to Words Out West for a second year.

“The line-up both this year and in 2020 would be huge anywhere, so the fact that these speakers are visiting the Western Downs is a colossal coup for the region,” Mr Clarke said.

“The audience can expect a relaxed, engaging mood at the festival. It will be enlightening, humorous, entertaining and eye-opening.”

Words Out West kicks off on Friday, 5 March with the Miles Schooners & Stories event with Shane Webcke, with the main festival day taking place on Saturday, 13 March, followed by Library After Dark in the evening – a chance to share drinks and canapes with friends and mingle with some of the speakers.

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