Two men who tell unbelievable stories will headline the 2018 Canberra Writers’ Festival in August - author Matthew Reilly and former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
Joyce opens the four-day festival on August 23, talking about the controversies which have plagued his recent career with journalist Mark Kenny at the National Press Club.
The only controversy Reilly might touch on is the open-ended ending of his latest book The Three Secret Cities set to be published later this year.
While there are several writers’ festivals occurring around the country at a similar time, Reilly is only appearing at the CWF. Now in its third year the festival is garnering more support each year, from authors and the industry alike.
“I am a fan of new things,” Reilly says.
“Chiefly because it’s really hard to be new: to write something new, to build something new or to create a new writers’ festival.
“If my presence helps boost the profile of the Canberra festival, which is still relatively new, then I’m thrilled. It’s tough to be new. I know this from my own experiences starting out as a novelist.”
Reilly said he was also looking forward to reuniting with his beloved DeLorean car, a replica of the one in Back to the Future.
“My DeLorean actually lives in Canberra at a friend’s place. I’m looking forward to seeing it and driving it again. I might drive it to the festival. Maybe as an honoured guest, I’ll be able to park it out front.”
Festival director Jenny Bott first met Reilly back in 2005 when the pair were involved in the Books Alive program while Bott was chair of the Australia Council of the Arts.
“I remember Matthew and I doing some gig at Miranda Fair in southern Sydney and he was so gracious and so lovely with members of the general public,” Bott says.
“I have this unbelievably soft spot for him. I love the contrast between the content of his books, the action, the violence, and this gentle soul I think he really is.”
Other highlights of the program include an opening night dinner with culinary icon Maggie Beer, acclaimed Scottish author Irvine Welsh who wrote the Trainspotting series, and the popular Girls’ Night In closing event, this year featuring Kathy Lette, Annabel Crabb, Nikki Gemmell, Bridie Jabour and Jean Kittson.
Bott said several panel discussions would also be likely draw big crowds. On Friday, August 24, Gwynne Dyer, Greg Sheridan, Afua Hirsch and Chris Uhlmann will discuss foreign relations in On the Brink, at the National Press Club. On Saturday, August 25, Democracy and Journalism will discuss how the erosion of trust is undermining our faith in the way society functions.
Reilly will head the New World Disorder panel on Saturday, August 25, along with Ed Hussain, Phillipa McGuinness, Gwynne Dyer and Katharine Murphy, discussing our rapidly changing world.
The festival line-up also features a panel discussion about the future of Indigenous recognition with Dr Sana Nakata, Dr Shireen Morris, Paul Daley and Melissa Lucashenko, moderated by Dr Sandra Phillips.
There is also a strong local presence with Canberra-based authors Ellen Broad, Jack Heath, Andrew Hutchison, Cat Sparks, Dan O'Malley, Karen Viggers, Roger Rooney and poets John Foulcher, Melinda Smith, Lesley Lebkowicz and Geoff Page all appearing.
The Canberra Writers’ Festival runs from August 23-26 at iconic locations around the city, including the National Museum of Australia, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Library of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the Australian National University and the National Press Club of Australia.
More details can be found at canberrawritersfestival.com.au