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New York Times bestseller Sally Hepworth among guests for Newcastle Writers Festival


After internationally-acclaimed author Matthew Reilly “warmed up the crowd” in October, the Newcastle Writers Festival is set to unleash a plethora of stars in 2024.

The creator of Captain Shane “Scarecrow” Schofield and Jonathan “Jack” James West Jr enthralled locals at a precursor to the main event during a recent stopover in Australia.

But, it appears the best is yet to come.

ABC Newcastle presenter Dan Cox with best-selling author Matthew Reilly at the University of Newcastle. Photo: Rod Thompson

New York Times bestseller Sally Hepworth, Miles Franklin Literary Award winner Melissa Lucashenko and journalist David Marr will be among 125 writers participating in 2024, from 5 to 7 April.

Other guests include Charlotte Wood, whose most recent novel Stone Yard Devotional has been included in several Best Books of 2023 lists, as well as award-winning authors Nam Le and Christos Tsiolkas.

For the first time in a decade, festival director Rosemarie Milsom has delegated most of the program preparation to a new team member – writer and Secret Book Stuff co-founder Amy Lovat.

“It’s become more difficult to manage… the fundraising, logistics and other activations we run… as well as the artistic programming,” she said.

“Amy is passionate about Australian books and has imbued the program with a deep knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Lovat is equally thrilled.

“I started out as a festival volunteer a decade ago, became an emerging guest curator in 2021, and now to be working as the program manager in the festival’s 11th year is a dream come true,” she said.

“2024 will be rich with ideas and inspiration.

“We’re delighted to welcome some favourites back, as well as introducing a strong contingent of debut authors.”

This will be Hepworth’s first visit to Newcastle, celebrating her ninth novel.

Award-winning author Nam Le is also making his debut.

It’s been 15 years since his acclaimed book The Boat was published and his much-anticipated new title, 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem, is described by publisher Simon & Schuster as “an explosive, devastating debut book of poetry”.

Marr will speak about his most recent offering Killing for Country: A Family Story, which centres on the discovery that his forebears served with the brutal Native Police in the bloodiest years on the frontier wars.

Meanwhile, Lucashenko is preparing to discuss her latest novel Edenglassie, a historical tome set in parallel narratives between 2024 and 1854, with two love stories 200 years apart.

“We are hosting 95 ticketed and free events in the 2024 program,” Milson said.

“They will be presented in venues within the civic precinct including the University of Newcastle’s Nuspace building, Conservatorium of Music and Playhouse, as well as satellite venues.”

The full program is available from16  February… and tickets go on sale the same day.

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