What is Power: Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church

Child Sexual Abuse & the Catholic Church: a discussion at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Photo: Cath Piltz Chair Janet Steele, child abuse survivor John Saunders, journalists David Marr and Joanna McCarthy. Photo: Cath Piltz

In 1996 John Saunders – author of Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Handbook – walked into the local police station and reported he had been sexually abused as a child.

In the gruelling proceedings that followed, John’s sexual abuse claim was dismissed on the basis that Saunders was made to feel special by the perpetrator, therefore enjoyed the interactions, and therefore is not considered a victim of sexual abuse.

In an emotionally charged session at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, Saunders violated every aspect of the gag order placed on him by the Catholic Church after receiving insignificant compensation.

David Marr – journalist and author – revealed that American victims of abuse are compensated $1,000,000, by the Catholic Church, whereas Australian victims receive approximately $60,000. The difference in compensation is due to the fact…

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The Nest isn’t Always Safe: the topic of home with Jessie Cole and Inga Simpson

Australian authors Jessie Cole & Inga Simpson on their latest novels

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Jessie Cole (centre) and; Inga Simpson (right) discuss the second novels. Photo: Cath Piltz Jessie Cole (centre) and; Inga Simpson (right) discuss the second novels. Photo: Cath Piltz

Authors Jessie Cole and Inga Simpson have a few things in common. The second novels, of both writers, hit Australian shelves two days ago. But the similarities don’t stop there.

According to session chair Lisa Walker, both novels explore the liminality of leaving or returning home, and although the stories feature starkly different protagonists, they share thematic qualities.

A small crowd of die-hard book lovers endured polar winds, looming mud, and darkening skies on the festival’s chilly final afternoon, to hear Cole and Simpson read at the last session of the Byron Bay Writers Festival. It was well worth the wait!

Imagine, in a world void of men, being home-schooled in an isolated valley, the only one of five siblings still left at home, with a deafening silence building between you and the only other…

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Be Still My Beating Heart: Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George on writing romance

On Romance Writing at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Introduced as having transformed from “corporate bitch to romance queen”, writer Jennifer St George spoke at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival about the conventions, expectations, and processes of being a romance novelist.

Writing to the conventions of the romance genre can be difficult, explained St George. Every story has the same “happily ever after ending”. The art is in creating enthralling and greatly nuanced relationships, tensions, and conflicts between characters.

Amy Andrews has written forty romance novels, sold over 1.6 billion books, and claims the genre is all about the “build up, not the sex”. It’s all about the longing, yearning, burning, and seduction. The push-and-pull. The will-they-won’t-they.

From L - R: Mandy Nolan, Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George. Photo: Cath Piltz From L – R: Mandy Nolan, Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George. Photo: Cath Piltz

One thing the two authors have in common – observed the session chair, local comedian Mandy Nolan – is that they both have true love.

According to…

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Small Gems: writing short stories, what is left out?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, & Abbas El-Zine on the Art of Short Stories at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee. Photo: Cath Piltz Kate De Goldi reading from ACB with Honora Lee.
Photo: Cath Piltz

The short story can be a challenging form, as the writers in the Small Gems session, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Kate De Goldi, Qaisra Shahaz and Abbas El-Zein, agreed. More is omitted and inferred than is included.

But what participating chair Abbas El-Zein wants to know is: do omissions heighten or limit the form?

Maxine Beneba Clarke, an Australian spoken-word poet of Afro-Caribbean descent, believes that “what is left out, is the beauty of short stories”.

“It stirs-up curiosity, possibilities, raises issues, and introduces a character,” she added.

Abbas El-Zein responded by reciting two of the shortest stories ever written:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The author of this six-word story is unknown.

And Knock by Fredric Brown: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

Kate De Goldi

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The Nature of Corruption: glorified, vilified and at the heart of our culture

Tara Moss, Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, & Moya Sayer-Jones on the Nature of Corruption at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, Tara Moss, & Moya Sayer-Jones on The Nature of Corruption. Photo: Cath Piltz Matthew Condon, P.M. Newton, Tara Moss, & Moya Sayer-Jones on The Nature of Corruption.
Photo: Cath Piltz

The boiling frog anecdote questions our ability and/or our willingness to react to, gradually occurring, significant changes. The belief is that a frog placed in boiling water will jump out, but a frog placed in cold water – which is slowly heated – will be cooked to death.

Novelist, journalist, and activist, Tara Moss believes that corruption is at the heart of our culture, and that we can change that. Moss says corruption is rewarded, and encourages us as a “society to question why we think celebrating corruption is acceptable”. She defines corruption as “the grabbing of power wherein one person wins, and many people lose out”.

P.M. Newton spent thirteen years as a detective in the police force, and is now a crime writer. She warns of the law unintended consequences, which…

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Frank Moorhouse: writing unconventional characters

Frank Moorhouse at the Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

The early-to-mid twentieth century was not an easy time for non-conventional young Australians.

Australian author, Frank Moorhouse and session chair, Sophie Cunningham discussed the lives of young people during these years, their attempts to stop the war by flocking to Geneva, and the difficulties faced by non-heterosexual individuals.

_MG_5564 Frank Moorhouse.jpg Frank Moorhouse explains the extent of research he undertakes for his novels. Image: Kalem Horn

Moorhouse showed himself to be a master storytelling, and an entertainer. His anecdotes were not only amusing, but also illustrated the years and depth of work and research that went into constructing his heroine, Edith Campbell Berry, in his trilogy of novels: Grand Days, Dark Palace, and Cold Light.

Moorhouse spent four years in Geneva researching archives, and had almost completed his novel when he discovered (through the United Nation Pension Board) the one surviving first-generation idealist, Mary McGeachy, who was living in Canada.

Moorhouse was shocked…

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Turning Passion into Vocation: The dealer is the devil

At Byron Bay Writers Festival

BYRON BAY WRITERS' FESTIVAL BLOG

A fusion of genre, Adrian Newstead’sThe Dealer is the Devil examines the Indigenous art industry. A blur of personal memoir and art history, the book captures the trajectory of one of the 20th century’s greatest art movements.

IMG_1717 Edna Carew presents Adrian Newstead’s The Devil is the Dealer

Also the director of Coo-ee Art Gallery, Newstead spoke at the Byron Bay Writers festival about the 100 most influential artists during the Indigenous art movement.

Sessino chair, the teacher, translator, journalist, and commentator, Edna Carew asked Newstead how had Indigenous art climbed onto the world stage in the way that it did.

Despite the Indigenous art movement being globally renowned, “only a small number of Australian Aboriginal artists have broken through onto the world stage,” replied Newstead.

According to Newstead, “Emily Kame Kngwarreye is the only traditional Aboriginal artist who has work shown on the international stage as the art of…

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