Country writers boosting the local word count

THE SECOND annual High Country Writers Festival is busy fostering wordsmiths ahead of its final sessions on Saturday October 24, and it’s getting help from plenty of country-born locals who are great with words.

Travel writer and blogger Amanda Woods has had her wings (slightly) clipped by the global COVID-19 pandemic, yet this New England born-and-bred journalist will be chatting at the High Country Writers Retreat with authors Mary Moody and Mary Garden (also travel and adventure writers) about capturing the world on the page, especially at this time of ‘armchair travel’.

According to Amanda, being able to live and write in the country is “a gift”.

“The simple fact that I am woken up by the sounds of magpies rather than construction work, as I used to be in the city, allows me to start the day gently and slip into my writing with ease.

“It’s like living on a writer’s retreat and I love it.”

A regular contributor to popular publication Escape, Amanda has also been published in Mindfood and Australian Traveller. She creates stories for her own site, Adventures All Around, and is currently working on a piece showcasing the New England region for The Telegraph UK.

“It’s such a great feeling to be a part of something special in my home town. I love the way the festival not only brings great authors to Glen Innes but also brings local people together to bond over books,” she said.

Call To Home

Deepwater-based writer Lucy Munro will be chatting with Mary Moody about cool-climate kitchen gardening at The Makers Shed, and finds inspiration on her 45-minute commute into Glen Innes.

“The smallest and most uncomplicated day-to-day moments evoke so much creative feeling within me, and I regularly leave interactions with people with a fully-formed story in mind.

“I think this is because for the most part, country people – and country life too – is genuine and meaningful. What you see is what you get, and there is no greater stimulation for writing than that.”

Published in The PlanthunterBelle magazine, and Smith Journal, Lucy is undertaking a Masters in Writing at the University of New England, and will have an essay included in a new book Spirit of the Garden. She cites isolation and poor Wi-Fi as challenges for country writers.

“But time has taught me that these are elements that are precious and needed most for my writing.

“There is so much creative work happening in this region and around rural Australia. Writers festivals like this provide space for this community to connect and share ideas and stories. “

Author Walk

Emerging author D’Arcy Lloyd is working on a series of short fiction works based on the story of Waterloo Station, home of the High Country Writers Retreat.  

Raised in the Inverell Shire and drawn back to it after four decades living in cities and coastal regions, she was inspired to revive her writing output as a result of the move.

“It wasn’t until I returned a few years ago that I realised the various book concepts and a number of draft short stories that had grown out of the sites, colours, sounds and smells of the New England.  

“This region nourishes me, inescapably.  It’s like a vast emptiness pregnant with whatever we allow our dreams to make it.”

D’Arcy will be launching her website at the High Country Writers Retreat during an ‘author walk’ of Waterloo Station, complete with heritage tales that are part of her new ‘Waterloo Series’ of micro fiction.

Box Seat

The support of this team of local wordsmiths is wonderful. They’ll lead conversations with our visiting authors and get to the heart of some fabulous books and storytelling now available in this region. Every one of us grew up on a New England farm, or still farms today, and we all have a connection to this landscape and its ongoing stories.

My first novel (a coming-of-age story to be published by MidnightSun Publishing in 2021) is set in a mythical place, although the farmlands are unmistakably the uplands between Delungra and Bingara, the country I came from.

I’ll be joining author Nicole Alexander for a chat about breathing life into historical fiction, which I’m probably looking forward to more than anyone else planning to attend the session!

Since moving to Deepwater in 2017 I’ve been working on two manuscripts set in the past. It’s a great privilege to sit in the box seat and hear an acclaimed author like Nicole open the door on how she creates an historical novel.

The High Country Writers Festival & Retreat October 24, 2020.

Michael Burge

Journalist - Michael Burge Media

Michael Burge is a journalist, artist, author, designer, digital publisher and mentor who lives at Deepwater in the New England region of NSW. He curates The Makers Shed, a high-street marketplace for artisans at Glen Innes; co-manages the High Country Writers Festival which takes place annually in October; and mentors emerging writers, journalists, artists and events.

Michael Burge Media

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