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The timetable for the 2020 Manawatu Writers' Festival is full of exciting workshops, discussion panels, author talks and more. 

All events are held at the Feilding Library, Cnr Stafford and Bowen Streets, Feilding.

Saturday 12 September

Tom Doig   Click here for Live Stream

Peaks of Activism, Pits of Despair

Saturday 12 September, 9:00am - 10:30am

Tom, literary journalist, travel writer and comedy theorist will talk about how he uses investigative research on issues of social action to fuel his writing.



Laura Jean McKay   Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk: Going to the Dogs

Saturday 12 September, 9:30am - 11:00am

Laura Jean McKay talks about her new book 'The Animals in That Country' (Scribe, 2020) - a novel about a strange new flu that enables people to talk with other animals. The session includes a Q&A with Dr Collin Bjork.

Gopal Poudyel  Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk (with Thom Conroy)

Saturday 12 September, 10:45am - 12:30pm

'Far from Home' is about his experiences as a Bhutanese refugee in Nepal, his long residency in a refugee camp, and his eventual life with New Zealanders in Palmerston North. This event will feature a reading from Poudyel's book, 'Story in Story', the account of his refugee experiences.


Rajorshi Chakraborti  Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Saturday 12 September, 11:15am - 12:30pm

If you enjoy mystery, thrills, bold protagonists and adventures with a touch of the magical, come along for this conversation with Indian-born Wellington author Rajorshi Chakraborti as he introduces his new novel, 'Shakti', which is about three women in present-day India who find themselves gifted with unique powers, except they come at a fearsome price. Raj will read from 'Shakti', talk about the current period in Indian politics that shaped the story, and also share some of his street photography to bring alive the world in which the novel occurs.

Octavia Cade  Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Saturday 12 September, 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Octavia shares how science and literature are fertile grounds for cross-pollination. Science fiction shows us imagined visions of the future, and the possible worlds we can create for ourselves. It is both a profoundly hopeful and a profoundly frightening genre. That dichotomy is something that comes from science. The same methodology that gives us penicillin and space travel also gives us nuclear weapons and germ warfare; it is in many ways a practice defined by consequences and choice. Science fiction, in exploring that choice, helps to interrogate the science of today as well as tomorrow, and increasingly, so does literature as a whole, as the influence of science on cultural life increases, and becomes ever more inescapable.


Elspeth Tilley

Interactive Workshop: Writing Comedy for Social Action

Saturday 12 September, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

This hands-on workshop will combine writing exercises, improvisation techniques and narrative games to explore a range of ideas about what makes funny, funny. The focus will be on humour as a deliberate tool for comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and awakening possibilities for change. Please bring writing materials and wear comfortable clothes that permit movement.

Please note - there is no expectation whatsoever that workshop participants need to consider themselves funny to join the fun! This workshop is for everybody, and focusses on introducing and exploring key mechanics behind humour to enhance understanding rather than expecting participants to produce new comedy material.

Lee Murray  Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Saturday 12 September, 2:45pm - 4:00pm

Award winning author-editor and NZSA Literacy Fellow, Lee, presents a discussion on the role of speculative narratives in reflecting our fears, developing resilience and ultimately ensuring preparedness.


Denise Irvine & Venetia Sherson   Click here for Live Stream

Co-Author Talk

Saturday 12 September, 3:15pm - 5:00pm

Journalists, Denise Irvine and Venetia Sherson co-authors of the book, 'Stand by Me', share what they learned from researching and writing about domestic violence: the truths and the myths, the patterns of controlling behaviour, and the challenges faced by the generous women who work to keep other women safe. They will talk about two of the women they interviewed: One is the daughter of a woman who was killed by her partner, the other a survivor of domestic violence who later became a police officer. They may also cover how the Hamilton refuge coped during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Lee Murray, Cassie Hart, Octavia Cade, Melanie Harding-Shaw and Laura McKay Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Speculative Fiction

Saturday 12 September, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

A chance for readers, writers and enthusiasts of the worlds of fiction writing - sci-fi, fantasy, horror, apocalyptic and dystopian, and alternate history, to meet five of NZ's top speculative fiction authors.


Sunday 13 September

Eamonn Marra   Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk: Capturing Moments to Write Life

Sunday 13 September, 9:00am - 10:30am

Eamonn Marra talks about how to find a narrative in a single moment or idea - or how to construct a larger narrative out of fragments. He looks at the benefit of zoning into a single idea or point, rather than explaining everything.

He says, 'This is what short fiction does well, rather than explaining everything. It's all about entering a story at the last possible time and leaving at the first opportunity and cutting away all the excess'. Eamonn will also be reading from his book, '2000ft Above Worry Level'.


Thom Conroy     Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Sunday 13 September, 9:30am - 11:00am

Join Thom, writer and Creative Writing Lecturer, as he talks about class and fiction writing, featuring a reading from Inland, his latest novel-in-progress followed by a whole group discussion about class and fiction in the contemporary environment.

Simon Sweetman   Click here for Live Stream

Tips for Building a Bloggin Routine

Sunday 13 September, 10:45am - 12:30pm

Join Simon as he shares his insights into the life of a successful blogger and how to gain momentum as a blogger.


Marie Hodgkinson, Melanie Harding-Shaw and Cassie Hart    Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Horror Writing Today

Sunday 13 September, 11:15am - 12:30pm

Tales of horror have a long pedigree. Join Marie Hodgkinson of Paper Road Press (NZ publisher of 'books from beyond the beaten track') as she talks about the attraction of horror fiction with authors Melanie Harding-Shaw and Cassie Hart. Melanie will also read excerpts from her book 'Black Dogs, Black Tales'.

Bruce McKenzie (Bruce McKenzie Booksellers) Kelsey Smith (Hunterville Village Bookshop) and Lesley Stead (Paige's Book Gallery)        Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Independent Booksellers Unite

Sunday 13 September, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Three local independent booksellers get together for a chat to share with you how they survive the turbulent world of selling books.


Mary McCallum & Michael Fitzsimons      Click here for Live Stream

Workshop and Readings: Finding Joy

Sunday 13 September, 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Finding the Joy. Too often poetry is seen as a haven for the depressed, lonely and grieving when it has a history that also embrases praise and the art of delighting in things. Join poets/publishers Michael Fitzsimons and Mary McCallum in a workshop designed to help you write from a perspective of delight and approach even the most difficult material with an eye for elements that are uplifting and even joyful. Michael is the author of 'Michael, I thought You Were Dead', a collection that sprang from a cancer diagnosis, and Mary is the author of 'YXZ of Happiness'.

Mary McCallum, Nicola Easthope, Renée, Tim Jones, and Elspeth Tilley      Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Writing the World

Sunday 13 September, 3:15pm - 5:00pm

Be entertained by this panel of acclaimed authors as they robustly discuss how writing fiction or poetry can bring about social or political change and why a number of activists are now turning to these mediums.


Mandy Hager     Click here for Live Stream

Workshop: Finding Your Character's Voice

Sunday 13 September, 2:45pm - 4:00pm

Finding your character's voice: how do you make a character sound real and unique? Through a series of exercises, you'll explore ways to develop your character's unique voice.

Sarah Myles    Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Sunday 13 September, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

Join Sarah as she relays her personal journey of writing 'Towards the Mountain' - A Story of Grief and Hope Forty Years on From Erebus. Learn how to research and write family history amid political and social controversy, the value of source documents and interviews, and how to deal with conflicting accounts in storytelling.


Monday 14 September

Kiritahi Firmin  

Author Talk

Monday 14 September, 9:00am - 10:30am

Kiritahi talks about the tender art of story collecting. respectful interviewing methods and how she compiled other people's stories into her book, 'Women of the River' - about life along the Whanganui River.


Carly Thomas, Tina White, Marilyn Wightman, Lesley Courtney, Russell Poole and Andi C Buchanan

Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Our Heritage - Our Social History

Monday 14 September, 9:30am - 11:00am

Host Carley Thomas facilitates a panel discussion about Our Heritage.

Carly Thomas, Kirsty Powel, Jill Darragh, Andi C Buchanan, Tony Chapelle and Cristina Sanders

Click here for Live Stream

Discussion Panel: Opening History

Monday 14 September, 11:15am - 12:30pm

Host Carly Thomas natters to New Zealand authors of historical fiction about delving into research, the value of anecdotal material as clues, contradictory facts and making decisions about how many facts to use. Each author will also read excerpts from their novels.


Amanda Gray     Click here for Live Stream

Self-Publishing Basics

Monday 14 September, 11:15am - 12:30pm

This session will introduce the self-publishing industry from the where to sell your books, to the importance of self-promotion and pitfalls to avoid. Tips, tricks on how to get the best out of every dollar you spend and the apps or programmes that can make your journey from writer to authorship easier. Self-publishing Basics is designed to give aspiring writers the confidence to take the first steps into publishing their own work by providing a starting point on how to go about it.

Robyn Salisbury    Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Monday 14 September, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

How to Write for Social Change. What Robyn Salisbury learned from writing Staying in Love and editing Free to be Children, as well as more than ten years of column writing on issues of sexuality.


Tim Saunders     Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Monday 14 September, 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Tim, author, poet, and award winning short story writer, shares his journey to write and publish his most recent book, 'The Farming Life', and will read some of his short stories and poems.

Val Burr    Click here for Live Stream

Author Talk

Monday 14 September, 2:45pm - 5:00pm

The ‘Other Early Pioneer Settlers of Manawatu’ - Some accounts of pioneer settlers have given the impression that Manawatu was settled by pioneers from Britain. In fact, the regions early settlements owed much to communities of pioneers from Scandinavia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the Polish, Germans, and others. Hear historian Val Burr uncover the fascinating stories that turn up when hunting for facts.