For the first time in Byron Bay Writers Festival history, Festival Saturday has sold out.
Festival Director Edwina Johnson is thrilled with the pre-ticket sales and keen interest in this year’s Festival and encourages locals to get online quickly to book tickets for Friday and Sunday.

Festival Friday
Friday features a star-studded line-up including international guests Jeanette Winterson, Geoff Dyer, Robin Hemley, Qaisra Shahraz, Poe Ballantine and Agustinus Wibowo.
Choose from over 35 sessions including Idiot Boxing: Andrew Denton and Andrew Knight in conversation with Geoff Lemon; The Art of Song Writing with Darren Hanlon and Missy Higgins; Kitchen Confidential with Christine Manfield, Steven Snow and Jim Hearn moderated by Simon Marnie; History: A Work in Progress including James Brown, Mike Carlton and Clare Wright chaired by Russell Eldridge; and Dream Boat Refugees with Julian Burnside, Carina Hoang, Antony Loewenstein, facilitated by David Marr.
Join the excitement of two book launches: Over the Water by William Lane hosted by Sarah Armstrong, and Deeper Water by Jessie Cole hosted by Geordie Williamson.

Festival Sunday
Sunday also features acclaimed international authors Jeanette Winterson, Susie Orbach, Robin Hemley, David Finkel and Thando Sibanda.
Other highlights include The Cost of Free Speech with Julian Burnside, Antony Loewenstein and Thando Sibanda chaired by P.M. Newton; Secret and Lies: Should the Catholic Church Confess? with David Marr, Joanne McCarthy and John Saunders chaired by Janet Steele; and A Murder of Crime Writers with Martin Chatterton, Terry Hayes, Tara Moss, P.M. Newton and Karin Slaughter chaired by Chris Hanley.
Sunday is also Kids Big Day Out with sessions led by Sally Rippin, Mem Fox, Asphyxia, Tristan Bancks, Nick Earls, Delta Kay, Jesse Blackadder and Andy Griffiths.

One-day passes are still available for $120 (Northern Rivers Writers Centre members $99) for Friday and Sunday. Youth Passes for Kids Big Day Out cost $40 (members $35)


Jeanette Winterson Keynote Speaker at Byron Bay Writers Festival 2014

“The rebellion of art is a daily rebellion against the state of living death routinely called real life." Jeanette Winterson, The Paris Review

We’re excited to announce that celebrated author Jeanette Winterson will deliver the 2014 Keynote Address at the Festival this year. Winterson is travelling to Australia in August for a tour arranged in collaboration with Sydney Opera House and Brisbane Powerhouse. Winterson will feature in several Festival sessions from 1-3 August (details to be revealed on 6 June), followed by events in Brisbane and Sydney.

Jeanette Winterson OBE is one of the most acclaimed international authors of our time. Whatever the genre - novels, screenplays, essays and journalism - Winterson takes risks and challenges us to think differently about identity and relationships. The Guardian (UK) recently listed Winterson as being one of the world’s Top Ten writers to see live, ‘She walks on with such confidence and never has any barrier between herself and the audience…’ It’s an experience not to be missed.

At 15, Winterson’s teenage love affair with another woman came to light. She was condemned by her church, leading to her expulsion from the community and her decision to leave home. She worked odd jobs, from an ice-cream van driver to a funeral parlour make-up artist, supporting herself as she obtained her English B.A. from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. She would go on to write over 15 books, including the celebrated novels Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Her most recent work includes Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?  and the horror novella about witchcraft and superstition, The Daylight Gate

We’re featuring more than 100 authors in the 2014 Festival. The program includes some of Australia’s best writers and thinkers from Malcolm Fraser, Clare Wright, Julian Burnside and Tim Flannery to Ashley Hay, Alex Miller, Andy Griffiths and many more. The full program including the complete international line-up will be available from 6 June 2014.

Lloyd Jones

We regret to advise that Lloyd Jones has reluctantly had to withdraw from the Byron Bay Writers Festival due to the recent death of his long term agent and close friend Michael Gifkins. Our condolences to Lloyd and to Michael’s family.

Early Bird release date

BBWF cropped website

The Byron Bay Writers Festival discounted Early Bird 3-Day Passes for the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2014 will be on sale Friday 11 April. This is your opportunity to make significant savings on passes for the main program of the BBWF, prior to the release of the full program on 6 June.

We’re delighted to announce that the guest-list for Byron Bay Writers Festival 2014 is finalised and the Festival is shaping up to showcase a diverse and eclectic program of stimulating, engaging and entertaining conversations with some of the best thinkers and writers in Australia today, as well as a smattering of international guests.
Byron Bay Writers Festival brings writers together in an environment that nurtures and invigorates them as much as it does our audiences. We endeavour to create a program where writers will engage with each other and dig beneath the surface of their writing processes in long conversations, and to discuss at length latest books and projects in public conversations. Our Festival is a series of encounters with interesting minds across genres including poets, songwriters, politicians, historians, comedians, journalists, biographers, literary and mass market fiction writers, bloggers and tweeters: we celebrate wordsmiths of all kinds.
Keep an eye out for US author Poe Ballantine. His latest book, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, part memoir, part true crime, is a compelling story about his neighbour, a college math professor who disappeared and whose mutilated body was found three months later. Author Cheryl Strayed says ‘Reading his work is inspiring, agitating, and invigorating… This is his best book ever.’ And Tom Robbins comments ‘Mark Twain would have admired his wit, and had Oscar Wilde read him, he would have bought an old Ford pickup and moved to Nebraska the day he got out of the slammer, hoping that some of his style rubbed off on him.’

Now in its eighteenth year, the Byron Bay Writers Festival takes place between 1-3 August, with workshops beginning on 28 July. The full Festival guest list and program will be announced on 6 June when the entire range of tickets, feature events, workshops, lunches and launches will be unveiled. Audiences are advised not to wait until August to purchase Festival Passes. Early Bird discounted 3 day passes are released from 11 April and provide access to the full marquee program on the Festival site. The Festival team looks forward to welcoming you back in 2014.


New York Times Best-Seller M.L. Stedman joins Festival line-up and Last Chance for Early Bird Tickets

Don’t think, just book!

These are the last days of Early Bird ticket sales and they're selling out fast. Now’s the time to book your discounted 3 Day Pass or Youth Pass to enjoy over 100 international and Australian literary stars.

We’re delighted to announce multi-award winning author M.L. Stedman will join the stellar line-up at this year’s Festival. Stedman’s novel The Light Between Oceans has been a New York Times’ best-seller for the past 60 weeks. So far it has been translated into more than 30 languages, and the Hollywood movie rights were recently snapped up by Dreamworks, with David Heyman of Harry Potter fame set to produce it. An incredible achievement for a debut novel.

See Stedman in conversation with Geordie Williamson, Chief Literary Critic of The Australian on Festival Friday. She’ll also participate in three other panels, including one on Lighthouses, a lovely fit for Byron Bay as this is where Tom, one of her protagonists, learns the craft of lightkeeping.

Stedman’s hauntingly beautiful novel has won many awards in Australia, including the ABIA Book of the Year 2013 and The Indie Award Book of the Year. If you haven’t read this book, we highly recommend it. It’s a remarkably powerful read.

So pick up your Early Bird tickets now. Sale ends this Thursday, 5 June at midnight. Don’t miss our keynote speaker Jeanette Winterson, US author Poe Ballantine, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Clare Wright, Julian Burnside, Tim Flannery, Ashley Hay, Alex Miller, Andy Griffiths and many, many more. We can’t wait to reveal the full program including the complete international line-up this Friday, 6 June.



The LitLink New Manuscript Award- shortlist

Congratulations to...

Remission by Joshua Lobb - A massively over-populated novel, about forgiveness, loneliness, grief and embarrassment in regional Australia.

Don't go near the Water by Eileen Naseby – What do you do when your child goes missing?

Empty Beach by Bruce Nash - A novel which re-imagines the coastal landscape

Iranian Elegy by Gary Ovington - An Iranian gay love story: where does sadness end and joy begin?

Pangs by Gary Woodland - To bite or not to bite is the question Bob wrestles with when long-buried needs for love and family threaten his world.

 Jansis O'Hanlon from Varuna will announce the winner on Sunday 3 August at the SCU Marquee 2pm, The Book and the Academy session.

History: A Work In Progress


Clare Wright, winner of the 2014 Stella Prize for her novel The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, will join an esteemed line-up of history writers at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Festival Director Edwina Johnson strongly believes that the lessons and tales of times past are instrumental in shaping our sensibilities and the future. For that reason she has programmed a number of stimulating sessions, which will examine history, through fact and fiction. ‘We’re thrilled to have assembled such a brilliant cast of writers whose skills manifestly bring history to life.’

Wright will join veteran broadcaster Mike Carlton, former Australian Army Officer James Brown, and chair Russell Eldridge for the Festival Friday panel discussion, History: A Work In Progress.

In a 40-year career, Carlton has been a radio and television news and current affairs reporter, foreign correspondent, radio host and newspaper columnist. He was an ABC war correspondent in Vietnam in 1967 and 1970, and for three years was the ABC's Bureau Chief in Jakarta. He also reported for the ABC from London, New York and major Asian capitals.

Winner of the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Literary Prize for History, Ian Hoskins (pictured) will question if we take our beloved coastline for granted in his Festival Friday session, Coast: A History of the NSW Edge.

Author Ashley Hay will be in conversation with former Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, Sophie Cunningham, as they explore our country’s violent weather and its impacts, notably in conjunction with Cunningham’s new book, Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy.

Then on Festival Sunday chief literary critic of The Australian, Geordie Williamson will be in conversation with Hay about her historical novel The Railwayman’s Wife. Williamson will also be in discussion with Clare Wright on her award-winning work The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

According to Edwina Johnson ‘the popularity of history on the Festival agenda was aptly demonstrated by how quickly the tickets to our War and Remembrance Literary Dinner sold. There are only a handful left for this special occasion at the iconic Byron Beach Café.’

The Byron Bay Writers Festival would like to congratulate the finalists of the following competitions:

Pitch Perfect 
The following finalists have been selected to take part in the BBWF Pitch Perfect session on Saturday, 2 August 4pm-5pm

Ali Chigwidden        The Blackbirds
Clare Macken          Something Wicked This Way Comes: Letters from the Cat-Lady Killer
Mary McCarthy        Saltwater Skin

Susie Warrick Young Writers Competition
The winner will be presented with $1,000 award during the BBWF on Saturday, 2 August at 9am-10am.
Ailie Mackenzie       The Unforgiven