Shelf Aware — William Yeoman

will

I’m curious to know how a self-described misanthrope finds himself once again as guest curator of the prestigious Perth Festival Writers Week, which each year draws tens of thousands of visitors to the University of Western Australia and other satellite locations. I’m not sure that William Yeoman’s responses to my Shelf Aware interview questions provide a complete insight, but I nevertheless found them fascinating, and I’m confident you will too.

Will, also the Books Editor of The West Australian, has taken on the curator’s role for the second consecutive year and, as you’ll see from the inspiring program, has brought together some of the most compelling writers and artists currently making headlines and prompting debate among readers and scholars here in WA and further afield.

I’m also curious to know what sorts of books top the list of favourites for a Books Editor who is greatly respected and admired for the depth and breadth of his literary knowledge. No surprise to see some titles from the Western literary canon on his list, but you’ll also find a more recent ‘classic’ among those he’s listed.

To learn more about PFWW, and Will’s role in putting it all together, read on. And if you’re in Western Australia from February 22 to 24, I hope to see you there.

Q. William, how would you describe the work that you do and how you do it?

A. As guest curator of Perth Festival Writers Week it’s my job to “curate” the writers’ festival component of Perth Festival. Yes, that’s a circular definition, but it isn’t always obvious. More precisely, I think about the kinds of themes and subjects I’d like to explore – some topical but not too much so as a lot can change in the 12 months between initial conception and final delivery – and then cast my net widely.
But if I’m being honest, a lot comes down to new releases and what the publishers are pitching. So those themes and subjects have to be broad enough to accommodate a variety of voices while still having some kind of focus. Or I need to be willing to change course mid-stream. I’m always reminded that a good chef often goes to the market, finds what’s freshest and then decides what to cook based on the ingredients to hand. This applies as much to the feast as to the individual dishes.

Other things to be aware of are budget and venue constraints, diversity, representation, children’s vs adult content and possible connections to the rest of the festival. It’s a huge, complex unwieldy beast with lots of challenges. Thankfully I work with a marvellous team, including PFWW producer Anna Kosky and Program Coordinator Georgia Landre-Ord. In fact, they do most of the real work and Make Things Happen. Which is a good thing, as I’m still a fulltime journalist at The West Australian and am generally pretty exhausted. Or maybe I’m just lazy.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the 2019 Perth Festival Writers Week?

A. So in reference to above, the central theme for 2019 is Our Imagined Selves. That is, how an imaginative approach to reading and writing literature both forms and informs us. I also wanted to have the feel of a ‘make your own adventure’ and so have ‘hidden’ sub-themes within each session that correspond to a Bildungsroman narrative, albeit fairly abstract: Self, Relationships, History, Imagination, Freedom. I don’t really care if anybody notices this; it’s really just a useful device to help me think about the form and content of the program.

Someone who personifies Our Imagined Selves is US queer academic madison moore, author of Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric. To quote Harvey Young from the back cover, “Fabulous is an absorbing, engagingly written, and highly insightful study of how ‘beautiful eccentrics’ creatively self-fashion themselves to articulate identity, assert presence and reclaim power on the streets and in the nightclub”. Madison will be giving a late-night “performance lecture” at the State Theatre Centre’s Studio Underground. A non-traditional writers’ festival event in a non-traditional venue.

Where to go from there? We have so many fabulous authors, conversations, panel discussions, readings and breakfast, lunch and high tea events, taking place in the University Club of WA, the wider UWA campus and in other venues around town, including the City of Perth Library and the Literature Centre in Fremantle.
I don’t want to give too much away, but everyone likes a list. Other guests include Ben Okri, Anna Funder, Esi Edugyan, Benjamin Law, Markus Zusak, Peter FitzSimons, David Malouf, Trent Dalton, Gail Jones, Brenda Walker, Alice Nelson, Karen Foxlee, Fiona Wright, Rodney Hall, Hugh Mackay, David Stratton, Mikey Robins, Chloe Hooper, Sally Seltmann, Amanda Curtin, Andrew Miller, Helen Nellie – well over 100! We even have a focus on comics, graphic novels and their film adaptations, as well as a Zine Fair and photographic workshop for the whole family as part of our extensive Family Sunday program.

will yeoman 2

Q. Where are the main bookcases in your home or office? Do you also keep books in other places at home (or elsewhere)?

A. My main bookcases are at home, but I do have a lot of (mainly reference) books at work. Other places where books seem to congregate at home include on the stairs and next to the bed.

will yeoman 1

Q. How are your books organised/arranged?

A. There are only three categories: fiction and large format coffee table books (stair well); non fiction (main bookshelves) and poetry (a dedicated bookshelf near the piano and TV!).

Q. What sorts of books predominate?

A. Most of my books comprise the above; of the fiction, mainly literary; of the non-fiction, mainly art history, philosophy and literary criticism.

Q. Describe your favourite reading place.

A. In bed.

Q. What book/s are you reading right now? Why did you choose that book/those books and what do you think of it/them so far?

A. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am reading books which are featured in PFWW 2019. David Malouf’s An Open Book (because I love poetry); Fiona Wright’s The World Was Whole (because I love essays); Rodney Hall’s A Stolen Season (because I love literary fiction). I am also dipping in and out of the new edition of Art: The Definitive Visual Guide (Andrew Graham-Dixon, ed), Marina Warner’s Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists and Andrew Scull’s Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity (the perfect book for our times). I’m always reading the latest New York Review of Books and London Review of Books too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Q. What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors?

A. Still Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dickens’ Great Expectations and David Copperfield, Sylvia Plath’s complete poetry, WG Sebald’s Austerlitz, Roberto Calasso’s La Folie Baudelaire, … probably too many to list really.

Q. In the event of an emergency, if you could save just three books from your collection, which books would they be – and why would you choose them?

A. See above. They contain infinity, if that were possible.

Q. If you could sit down for afternoon tea with your three favourite characters or authors, who would they be, what would you serve them, and what would like to talk to them about?

A. None. I am a misanthrope.

Go to Perth Festival 2019 and Perth Festival Writers Week 2019 for more news about what’s on, where and when.

#pfww2019 #perthfestival #thewestaustralian #sevenwestmedia #books #literarybooks #authors #davidmalouf #fionawright #rodneyhall #marinawarner #amandacurtinauthor #newyorkreviewofbooks #londonreviewofbooks #madisonmoore

 

Aussie rural romance – cover reveal

love song - sasha wasley - cover revealDrum roll, please.

It’s time to reveal the cover for the third instalment in West Australian rural romance author Sasha Wasley’s ‘Daughters of the Outback’ series — and it’s a beauty.

Love Song, due for release on 4 June, completes the trilogy of stories featuring the Paterson girls — Willow, Free and Beth — each of whom is carving a unique place in Australia’s ruggedly picturesque North West.

The first two books in the series have been best-sellers for Sasha, and are generating plenty of interest in Germany, where they were recently released.

To coincide with the cover reveal for Love Song, Sasha tells me she’s also excited to be able to announce that she’s just sold the film rights to all three novels and hopes to see the Paterson sisters on the screen before too long.

Here’s the blurb for Love Song:

When she agreed to tutor Charlie Campbell, falling in love was the last thing on her mind.
At 17, Beth Paterson had just lost her mother and was working hard to get in to university. She didn’t expect to lose her head over a boy – and she certainly didn’t expect him to vanish without even saying goodbye.
These days, Charlie is a big star on the alternative rock scene, while Beth is a respected doctor in her hometown. But her ordered life is thrown into turmoil when Charlie comes back to fight for the tiny community where he was raised. They can’t stop crossing paths any more than Beth can ignore the resurgence of that wild attraction they once shared.
However, Beth Paterson swore no man would ever screw her over again – least of all this man. She’s been protecting her heart since he left and she’s not about to let her guard down now.

“I love that the cover has gone back to the amazing red and blue spectrum of the Kimberley region,” Sasha says.

“Beth is perfect – strong, solitary and sexy. And the best bit is the handwritten musical notes peeping through, reminding us that Charlie Campbell’s voice is always whispering in the back of Beth’s memory.”

Revisit Sasha’s guest post in my Shelf Aware blog series here.

Love Song is now available for pre-order from your favourite book store as paperback or ebook, or online via the following links:

Paperback

E-book links

Find out more or follow Sasha on these links:

Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram