Third annual literary line up for Glen

AN ARRAY of home-grown literary talent will headline the third annual High Country Writers Festival in Glen Innes on December 11, sharing tales of rural spirit and outback crime, a wellness manifesto, a hybrid memoir about growing up deaf in the New England North West, and plenty more.

This year’s event was to have taken place in spring, but after being delayed by pandemic health orders, it’s happening at The Makers Shed and Glen Innes Severn Library over one Saturday in early summer, much to the delight of festival organisers and participants.

“We’re so happy we can progress with this year’s event,” festival director Michael Burge said.

“This year, we decided to platform New England North West authors, and we have the support of Kristy Reading from ABC New England North West to do so.

“We’re delighted that Jessica White, an acclaimed author who grew up at Boggabri and went to school in Armidale, is able to bring her latest title to our event.”

Hearing Maud is a ‘hybrid’ memoir in which Jessica explores the challenges faced by families when presented with a disability.

“It’s the incredible story of how this New England woman found her voice, and shared it with the world.”

Joining Jessica will be Quirindi-based author and cattle farmer Richard Anderson, whose latest novel Small Mercies explores the unique challenges faced by graziers.

“Richard’s novel is steeped in the rural setting we’re all familiar with, and he sets his characters on a journey to make a critical decision about the future of their property and an entire family’s lives,” Burge said.

Inverell vet and debut author Dr Gundula Rhoades will bring her wellness manifesto The Food Solution to this year’s event.

“It’s the perfect read for our times, about how we can get real about the link between agriculture, the future of the planet and how to make better choices in the kitchen,” Burge said.

“Gundi is a passionate, inspiring speaker and I know readers will love this rare chance to meet her in person outside of her clinic.”

Glen Innes-based travel writer Amanda Woods will be talking about her first book Rock Pools of Sydney, having created an array of stories to accompany this exquisite photographic essay by Vincent Rommelaere.

This year’s festival will see a return visit by author Mary Garden, whose Indian odyssey The Serpent Rising was read by the resident book club of The Makers Shed, one of a list of titles (including Hearing Maud and Small Mercies) up for the third annual High Country Indie Book Award.

This annual literary award is judged by the readers of the High Country Book Club, with a trophy handmade by resident silversmith Richard Moon and a cash prize donated by Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks.

“The festival is extremely grateful for a small grant from Glen Innes Severn Council’s Local Economic Development Fund this year,” Burge said.

“The Makers Shed donates a wide range of services to the event, but the grant assists us to go ahead in this challenging year despite the financial risks and allows us to engage a range of Glen Innes and New England suppliers for various essentials in mounting a festival of this kind.”

There’s a story time session at Glen Innes Severn Library led by Armidale author Trish Donald (and her writing and publishing session for adults straight afterwards), and festival-goers can join a poetry workshop with Tenterfield’s Gail Galloway.

Galloway’s debut collection Crow Speak: Wild Poems will be platformed at this year’s event at the opening of an exhibition of illustrations from the book by Tenterfield artist Judith Harris, and other works by Makers Shed regular Nadia Kliendanze, and Gail herself.

“This year, we’re delighted to be working with New England Writers’ Centre,” Burge said.

“Our regional writing organisation has long played a critical role in focussing the New England literary community on a range of services, workshops, festivals and award initiatives.”

Tickets for this year’s event are low-cost, and required even for the array of free events:

Caption: L-R authors Jessica White, Mary Garden, Richard Anderson and Gundi Rhoades.