The Sunday Age, News. Marieke HArdy and Michaela McGuire.pic Simon Schluter. 25 Oct 2013.

Michaela McGuire (left) and Marieke Hardy. Photo: Simon Schluter

Launching their Women of Letters project on the world stage and securing performers such as Martha Wainwright, Edie Falco and Moby would have been a hell of a lot easier for its creators, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, if they would just let the thing be recorded.

The literary salon and letter-reading event, in which participants pen a missive to a set topic, has become a firm favourite in Melbourne, but it seems to fit equally well with foreign audiences.

''Agents kept telling us to just record one show so they could show talent and get them on board, but it completely misses the point of being in the moment and having this experience that you will never have again,'' says Hardy, who has just returned from a whirlwind set of dates in the US, England and Ireland.

This sense of the ephemeral is, she says, what keeps the event special.

Actor Edie Falco, best known for her roles in The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie and Oz, told McGuire the reason she read her letter, ''A Letter to the Last Time I Ever Drank'', is because she knew it wasn't being recorded. And it's not just the readers who appreciate the lens-free nature of the events.

''Audience members enjoy that they don't have to have their camera phones up and they can just enjoy,'' she says.

Hardy, who is a regular on ABC TV's The Book Club, and McGuire, who writes for publications includingThe Monthly, met in 2009 and put on the first Women of Letters at the Bella Union in March 2010.

''We really got lucky with this concept,'' says Hardy. ''We had an idea and it has worked from the very first show, and even when we go to cities that have never heard of us … it always comes together, and it's like a show in Melbourne. The audiences have the same reactions and the readers share the same personal experiences.''

It's something this writer can attest to, having been invited to read a letter at an event in May 2010.

On the recent tour the pair ran 10 shows in six weeks in Los Angeles, New York, Texas, Chicago, London and Dublin, with actor Yael Stone, Rookie magazine editor Tavi Gevinson and How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor.

Despite the show taking up most weekends, neither Hardy nor McGuire are paid, instead putting the money towards Edgar's Mission, a sanctuary for lost or hurt farm animals.

''Michaela's got her second book coming out in June [Last Bets, about Crown Casino] and I write TV, and that means I can do Women of Letters for free, and that means it can be a true altruistic passion project,'' Hardy says.

Women of Letters returns to Melbourne on Sunday at the Regal Ballroom in Northcote.