Melbourne Writers Festival 2022

I was lucky enough this year to be able to get tickets to this years Melbourne Writers Festival – an utterly fabulous, and finally in person (after two years online) annual event. Perchance, I was scheduled on the night shift this past weekend so during the day I could book myself into various Writers Festival events and leave myself completely exhausted by Sunday night. Totally worth it though!

Thurs 8th Sept – ‘The Boy in the Dress’ – Author Jonathan Butler in conversation with Yves Rees

This was such a wonderful start to the week. Butler talked about his debut book – part memoir, part investigation – which started as an investigation into the murder of a relative in 1944. It was so interesting listening to Butler talk about his research process and the different avenues it took him on over the ten years he was doing so.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Love, Factually’ – Trent Dalton & Clementine Ford in conversation with Elizabeth McCarthy

Was I expecting to be in tears at 10:30 in the morning? No. Was I in tears though? Big yes! And for the best possible reason too. Love, Factually brought heartfelt stories, life advice, and a lot of laughs into one room. I found the whole conversation both inspiring, and emotional. There was a great, effortless dynamic between the three on the panel which was so interesting to listen to.

Fri 9th Sept – ‘Small Town Thrills’ – JP Pomare and Dinuka McKenzie in conversation with Fi Wright

I’ve always loved books set in small towns, especially crime fiction novels. There is something in the closeness and community that you can only find in a small town that makes crime fiction set there so much more intense. I loved listening to the two authors talk about why they chose small towns as the settings for their novels, and how they went beyond the small town tropes to make it their own. So keen to read their books!

Sat 10th Sept – Talking About a Revolution – Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Roj Amedi

After a day in the city with a friend of mine, it was great to go to this event in the evening. I listened to Yassmin Abdel-Magied talk quite a few years ago at another Writers Festival in Melbourne and absolutely loved hearing her speak. For this event she was talking about a new collection of essays she has published. As always she was engaging to listen to, and managed to be humorous around the more serious topics of conversation.

Sat 10th Sept – Queerstories – Hosted by Maeve Marsden, with stories from Shane Jenek aka Courtney Act, Krystal De Napoli, CS Pacat, Yves Rees, and Omar Sakr.

Queerstories was the most wonderful end to the festival for me. While I had gone to the writers festival before, I hadn’t attended a Queerstories night before, I am so glad to have now done so. Queerstories asks leading LGBTQI+ voices to share a story they’ve always wanted to tell, but have never been asked to before. This led to a night of both humorous and emotional stories, all told with a strong presence and with heart. I also discovered that there is a Queerstories podcast so I will be giving that a listen to soon!

It really has been such a fun and insightful few days! I am excited to get stated on these books by some of the wonderful people I met.

I’ve realised as well that I have a new goal in my writing: to be one of the people to talk about my writing and my books at one of these writers festivals. It would be amazing!

In the meantime, I will always be booking tickets to these events, as it is always such a fun weekend.

Back to Hogwarts?

I had a bad anxiety night recently which brought about my thought process below. This was mainly because a couple of weeks agao started writing a series of essays in which I would record my thoughts after each reread/rewatch of each Harry Potter instalment then post them here. After everything that has happened recently with JKR I wasn’t sure whether to continue with this ‘Back to Hogwarts’ series. I’m still not sure whether I will, but I know I want to continue writing it, so time will tell if I do.

Thank you for reading!


There is a lot being said about the comments J. K. Rowling (JKR) has made recently about transgender and non-binary people. I have a lot of thoughts on this as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a life long Harry Potter fan.

First I would like to say I in no way believe or support JKR’s thoughts on these topics.

Trans women are women
Trans men are men
Non-binary people are valid

There is no question of that.

I have been trying to work out how to process all of this as I have been a Harry Potter fan for most of my life. When I say ‘most’ I mean it too. That is almost 25 years minus the two years it hadn’t even been published, minus the years before Mum started reading me the first book. So make that 18 years give or take of devotion to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Out of out of almost 25 years, that’s quite a few.

Not only are the Harry Potter books a large part of the reason why I am such an avid reader, but they are also a large part of the reason why I started writing too. So aside from the actual story itself, HP has already formed a large part of who I am and what I do. This was even before I realised I was queer, and I had embraced that part of my identity as well. I’m not saying that books, writing, and my queerness are all I am, but they do make up a large part of my identity. So when these parts of my identity converge in a negative way, I can’t help but feel torn. I am hurt, and I am angry, and all because the person who created something I love has spoken out in such a way which is extremely harmful to others. It is because of this that I am finding it difficult to work out how to respond so that I stay loyal to my community, as well as the books (not the person) that contributed so strongly to my identity.

Beyond this question of books, writing, and identity, there is a question of how much the text itself has informed me as a person. For me, the books themselves have always presented me with the ideas of love, inclusion, and accepting yourself for you are. Harry Potter also taught me about friendship, family, and loss. Those books also influenced my ideas on courage, perseverance, and doing what is right even when it isn’t the easiest option. Don’t get me wrong, my parents, family and friends taught me a lot of this too, but the positive reinforcement of those values within the Harry Potter books definitely helped. It is this I think which has helped to create a morality battle in my mind over this whole situation, and so begs this question be asked:

Is it possible for me to still talk about Harry Potter and the wizarding world so enthusiastically while I know that the woman behind that world has such harmful views?

With how much I love the Harry Potter books it may seem like I think that JKR’s writing, the world she created, and the books themselves are perfect. I don’t. Maybe I did when I was younger and I didn’t know any better, but since then I have studied, I’ve learnt, and I have grown. I don’t think anything can ever really be perfect. With how much I have loved those books, and with how beautiful some of those memories are for me that surround those book, it is hard to extract myself from them.

That is why I won’t be able to cut myself from the Harry Potter world completely, but I don’t think I’ll be able to view them in the same light I used to. I won’t be buying books or merch, unless it is from an independent creator. I will however continue to reread the books and rewatch the films, as the do make me happy, and can be a comfort in my more anxious moments. My patronus is still a Thestral, I am still in Hufflepuff, and I will continue to love and embrace the wizarding world of Harry Potter, all the while keeping in mind and acknowledging its roots.

Poem: Our Dearest George

A couple of days ago we had to say goodbye to our beautiful dog George. Who honestly, has been the sweetest dog in the world! We are so blessed to have had him in our lives, he will be greatly missed! ❤️

On the suggestion from my younger sister that I write something, in typical Anna style, I wrote a poem. So here goes:

I’ve never met a sweeter soul,
Than that of dear old George.
A deep strong bond with all of us,
Was one that he did forge.

I’ll tell you a story of sweetest George,
From when he was a pup.
We took him to a puppy school,
Before he could grow up.

We expected days out in the park,
Teaching him to be good.
But the way that things turned out,
He’d learnt before we could.

“This pup just wants to please you!”
Was what the trainer said.
So on day two, I’ll have you know,
We took him home instead.

This ball of fluff was playful,
He’d run and skid on tiles.
When he really wanted,
He’d leave fluffy rugs in piles.

He’d steal the empty milk bottles,
To run around the house.
Getting stuck under the couches,
Unlike a quiet mouse.

Then he’d get real sleepy,
As puppies always do.
So he’d curl up on his fluffy mat,
Then become the mat too.

There was a game we played while walking,
‘Twas much like hide and seek.
One of us ran down the path,
While one made sure he’d not peek.

We’d ask him then “Where did she go?”
So he’d run ahead with glee.
He’d run then stop then sniff around,
To ask “Where could they be?”

He’d always find us soon enough,
And jump around and bark.
For him and us observers,
This game was quite a lark.

We’d take him to the beach sometimes,
Which would usually go to plan.
He’d run along the shore with us,
Or stick his nose in the sand.

But then we would go swimming,
While he stayed on the shore.
He’d bark and whine and worry,
That we were there no more.

Sometimes then he’d swim out,
To heard us in to shore.
He’d no longer have to worry,
If we did swim no more.

Once we took him kayaking,
We thought it’d be a plus.
But he sat between us lazing back,
With the work all left to us.

Then as he got older,
He matured quite bit.
Whenever we left the house,
The front porch he’d wait and sit.

I also do remember,
When he was knocking over bins.
Sure was the more annoying,
Of the playful doggie sins.

This was a result I think,
Of him always being so good.
He’d simply skipped the rebellious stage,
Of all dogs puppyhood.

Older still he did get slower,
Our walks were not as long.
He’d sit on the back patio with us,
And listen to the evening song.

He’d follow you around the house,
And lie where you would stay.
But he never did tire of the walks,
At the start of every day.

He always was a sweetie,
There’s no question of that.
I knew he’d always listen,
When I was feeling flat.

But now it’s time,
His soul must rest.
Our Georgie boy,
You are the best.

So, dearest George,
We’ll really miss your comfort,
Your unconditional love.
You’ll always have a place in our hearts,
When you reside above.

EDIT: I just got a call from Mum saying George was actually in ‘Pre-Puppy School’ for more like 15 mins, before the woman said “George doesn’t need to be here, he will do anything you say.” So she took him home again.
Mum just wants everyone to know what a good boy he was! ❤️

Thoughts on… RYLA 2018

“When you shine your light you allow others to shine their light too”

Even weeks after returning from Mt Evelyn it is hard to articulate just how much RYLA has done for me. 

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award is a leadership camp for 18-25 year olds which “focuses on personal growth, leadership development and community”, but after my week away I know that RYLA is so much more than that. 

In just seven days I learnt more about myself and how I want to live my live than I have ever been able to understand. RYLA provides a safe space for you to explore who you are and open your mind to new understandings of what it means to be a leader.

I won’t go into detail about what actually happened during the week, as for anyone interested in going, the less you know before hand the more you will get out of the week. What I can say though is that everything you do each day is carefully picked out and designed to benefit you, but that your experience with something will be completely different from the person next to you. You can only get out of this camp what you put in, and in that way, the lessons you learn aren’t just for that week, they are forever.

While the lessons I learnt about life, leadership, and myself are important to me, something I have really taken away from this experience is a bunch of the most beautiful, and inspiring people, each one of whom enriched my experience and will stay in my heart forever (apologies for the cheese, but it was unavoidable). I really do love these people so much. We laughed a lot, we cried a lot, but most of all we supported each other through a new and challenging experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.

To everyone on RYLA 2018 – if you are reading this – thank you so much for everything. You are the most beautiful people and I absolutely loved the week we spent together. Your friendship, support, and the lessons you’ve taught me are something I will value for the rest of my life.

If you’re looking for more information on RYLA here’s a link to the website: http://www.ryla9800.org.au/

Perspectives: “I’m little too.”

Last semester I did a writing creative nonfiction class in which one of the tasks was to write a small response to a different prompt each week. Seeing as the semester is over I can now post this piece from week four. This week we had to write a scene from the perspective of our 4-year-old self, and then rewrite it in third person. This is what I came up with, I know where this memory came from and I took some liberties with the second part, but it still works (I hope)!


I like this park now. Mum told me I’d have fun. The grass smells nice. Green. I like green. I skip through the grass. I know it’s skipping cause Play School told me it was. Skip, skip, skipidy, skip! The sun is warm, but Mum made me wear a jumper. She said it’s windy so I need a jumper. I don’t mind though, it’s my favourite. It’s stripy, like my sister’s. She doesn’t want to wear her jumper though. She doesn’t like wearing clothes at all.

I look back to where she sits with Mum. She sits there cause she’s smaller. Younger too. Maybe she’ll skip with me soon. I hope so.

I keep skipping along as Mum and Dad watch. Mum’s smiling. I know she is. She’s always smiling. I–

What’s that sound? I don’t like it! I turn back again to see, but I only get more scared. It smells funny. What is it? No! I don’t like it I run. I need to be safe! Run faster!

* * *

It was the clearest day they’d had in weeks so nearly every family was at the park. They called it a park, in truth, it was an old oval with climbing frame and monkey bars to boot.

Four-year-old Anna had wandered a little farther from her mum than usual. Her mum sat on the rug keeping a close eye on her, but she wasn’t too worried, her husband had the camera out and was filming as Anna skipped past.

The little girl looked so proud of herself. A wide smile lit up her face as the breeze picked at her white-blonde hair, the small, uneven pigtails bouncing with every step.

She turned back for a moment with a frown. Then suddenly her dark eyes widened as a look of pure terror floods her face. The skip quickly turns to a run as she realises something is following her.

Her Dad realises too, running forward to meet and embrace his distraught daughter. Tears follow the little girl’s panic, but her Dad can’t help but laugh a little as Anna clings to him like a lifeline.

At his feet sits a Sausage-Dog. It pants steadily, it’s tongue lolling out to the side, far too happy go lucky to be that scary.

“Anna…” He shakes his head, a little bemused by the whole situation. “It’s only a little dog!”

Anna sniffs, burying her face in her Dad’s shoulder. “I’m little too.”

~

Note: I am fairly certain this is where my initial fear of dogs came from…though I am very much over that now!