Zoe is an arts and cultural leader, thrilled to be a part of the BWF this year and lots to say about what we have on offer.
Which event at the Brisbane Writers Festival are you most looking forward to attending?
- Having created the program it is very hard to choose! I am very excited about Angel’s Palace and the Carpentaria performance. I think Alec Doomadgee’s opening will be the perfect complement to this innovative literary experience. I’ve also been chatting to Anosh Irani about his closing address and can’t wait to hear what he has to say. A World Without Writers is also close to my heart – it’s a challenging time for writers and I think this session will be a great opportunity to hear from some of the international authors and home grown talent we have on the important contribution writers make to our society.
Tell us something about you we don’t already know…
- I used to live in Thailand and speak conversational Thai. My undergraduate studies were in Thai history and I still maintain a strong interest in Thai culture and in particular its food!
From the artists attending at this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival, who do you look to for inspiration?
- I find all of them inspiring. Reading is my constant companion and what I find most stimulating about reading is that you can encounter and discover very different world views and experiences through the flick of a page. I love to travel and reading is my substitute when I can’t get away. It also takes a huge amount of work and dedication to put a book together. I’m in awe of authors like Min Jin Lee who spend 20 years writing their books. I’m also super impressed by the work of Alexis Wright and her novel Carpentaria has been a huge inspiration for this year’s Festival, culminating in our interactive literary experience, Angel’s palace.
Is there a particular book that you have read which still remains with you today?
- I think you carry everything you read with you. It amazes me sometimes how something I have read years ago will come front of mind in a particular moment. I read Wild Swans when I was eight and it set me on a path that was fascinated by history and Asian cultures. I still find stories about cultures other than my own and in particular the past most riveting.
People who attend the Brisbane Writers Festival will be able to hear many stories that will be thought provoking, where do you seek your ideas from?
- Where else but books! I also read extensively online. I try to cultivate a well rounded reading practice dipping across current affairs, cultural criticism and commentary, history and fiction. I’m fascinated by how some ideas ripple across different works simultaneously or in quick succession. For instance there is an emerging trend at the moment of writers questioning neo-capitalism as the way forward. I’m interested to see how this will impact us and what structure will be favoured next.
The power of a story can create conversations, what are you hoping for people to be talking about after BWF this year?
- I’m really interested in watching where the conversation might go next and how BWF might contribute to that. I would like to see us deepen and nuance our debate. The authors we feature this year all explore their topics at great length and I think in our current culture of click-bait and sound grabs we’re at risk of losing a deeper understanding and analysis.
What book are you next looking forward to reading?
- I’ve already started on authors that could be invited to BWF 2018, so I can’t give too much away!
What do you like most about working on BWF?
- I work with a fantastic group of people who are dedicated, hard working and passionate about bringing great literary experiences to Queensland audiences. It is a joy to share my work days with like minded people.
What is one thing you cannot resist?
Good company, amazing food and a view!
Finally... Can you offer any tips on how to fit in more reading into our busy lives?
- It’s all about creating habits. I like to structure my reading at certain times in my day and even read different genres at different times. Mornings are when I’m at my most focused so I tend to read non-fiction on my morning commute. News and current affairs is for the ride home and delicious fiction is for evenings, weekends and holidays.