One of the great things about attending a writers week like that recently held in Adelaide during this year’s Festival of Arts is that you get to meet and hear from a wide range of writers from around Australia and from overseas.
At this festival I attended on three of the six days. I heard from a number of writers I had never heard of before, let alone read any of their works. This is exciting, for it is an excellent way of finding new writers to read and new books to pursue. The downside is that one can simply get overwhelmed by the sheer number of excellent writers out there, many of whom have published three, four, ten or even dozens of books, all of them worthy of attention.
Where to start. [Sigh]
One of the sessions I attended was a meet-the-author type presentation with UK writer Sarah Dunant (pictured above). She gave a lively, entertaining and fully engaging talk. She lives part of the year in London and the rest in a Florence apartment.
[Bigger Sigh – I can dream can’t I?]
She explained how she developed from a crime writer into one who loves writing historical fiction. Her last three books are set in Italy in the 1500s and she went to great lengths to explain how she goes about her research, some of the fascinating facts that research has discovered about that era in recent decades and the impact of an understanding of religion on her writing.
“To understand the past you must understand religion,” she said. “Five hundred years ago it was the only game in town.” Sarah Dunant at the 2010 Adelaide Writers’ Week.
Her recent books include The birth of Venus (2003), In the company of the courtesan (2006) and Sacred hearts (2009).
I must put her books near the top of my ‘must read’ list.