Leading writers who were due to appear at the Newcastle Writers Festival this weekend will feature in a new free online program: NWF Stories to You - taking the festival for the first time directly into people's homes.
The festival has launched a condensed online program featuring 25 writers after it was forced to cancel its full live program because of COVID-19.
Behrouz Boochani, Clare Bowditch, David Leser, Favel Parrett and Charlotte Wood are among the stars participating in NWF Stories to You. The program includes 17 sessions and can be viewed via Facebook and YouTube.
Festival director Rosemarie Milsom has created the new online program, pivoting on March 13 when the festival was cancelled due to to COVID-19.
"We're all adjusting to life in the midst of a pandemic," she said. "We were the first large Australian writers' festival to cancel. It was devastating on so many fronts and in particular for the writers who were due to participate. This worsened as a cascade of cancelled festivals and events followed.
"I'd spent months creating the program and I didn't want it to go to waste so I decided to focus on doing what I could to support writers and also provide content for our loyal, house-bound audience."
Milsom hopes the online sessions will encourage people to engage with the featured writers' books, especially at a time when people are confined to their homes and have more time to read.
"This is a new experience for many of us but I believe it's worthwhile," she said
: Stories to You is free and many of the participants have donated their time although they have been offered payment.
"The festival team appreciates the challenges people are facing and that's why the organisation is committed to offering the program for free," Milsom said.
"We have been so grateful for the offers of support from many in our community to donate their ticket refunds. We welcome donations, no matter how small, as we do our best to plan for 2021."
The Stories To You program:
Saturday, April 4
10am-11am Newcastle writer David Owen Kelly discusses his darkly funny and confronting memoir State of Origin, which explores loyalty, misguided love and loss. Host Ed Wright.
11am-12pm With her novel Wolfe Island, Lucy Treloar joins a growing number of writers whose work explores anthropogenic catastrophe. She discusses the thin line between the present and a dystopian future. Host Susan Wyndham
12pm-1pm Gabrielle Jackson and Lee Kofman explore what it's like to live in a body that deviates from the norm - from the complexity of self-image to the minefield of medical intervention. Host Caroline Baum
1pm-2pm David Leser explores the origins of misogyny, the impact of the #MeToo movement and proposes a new map for masculinity. Host Rosemarie Milsom
2pm-3pm Sarah Macdonald and Cathy Wilcox share their straight-talking, laugh-out-loud survival guide to raising teenagers. Host Meredith Jaffé
3pm-4pm Charlotte Wood discusses her critically acclaimed novel The Weekend, which centres on the intricacies of female friendships and the impact of ageing. Host Ailsa Piper
4pm-5pm Join poet and lapsed psychologist David Stavanger for a live-streamed lockdown from his couch in Port Kembla. There will be readings, poetry karaoke, Q&A, lit games plus 'page meets stage' raves with special guest Anne-Marie Te Whiu. Hosts David Stavanger and Anne-Marie Te Whiu
5pm- 6pm What happens when the person you love conceals their true identity? Susan Francis and Stephanie Wood discuss the devastating fallout. Host Suzanne Leal
6pm-7pm From heavy wipe-outs to heaving crowds, soulful road trips to flow states, Ash Grunwald provides insight into the lives of surfing legends who also happen to be brilliant musicians. Host Nick Milligan
11am-12pm Throughout history, anger has fuelled surges in female-led activism, but is it having an impact where it matters now - and if not, why not? With Jane Gilmore and Ruby Hamad. Host Trisha Pender
12pm-1pm Claire Albrecht, Kait Fenwick, Lu Quade and Hera Lindsay Bird discuss the pitfalls and occasional positives of anxiety in the poetic process. Host Bastian Fox Phelan
1pm-2pm Behrouz Boochani speaks via Skype from New Zealand about life after Manus Island, the impact of his award-winning memoir No Friend but the Mountains, and the enduring power of literature to change the world. Host Michael Byrne
2pm-3pm Against the backdrop of World War II and its far-reaching fallout, Suzanne Leal and Favel Parrett's compelling new novels explore the impact of betrayal and the meaning of home. Host Meredith Jaffé
3pm-4pm For six years Miriam Lancewood lived off the grid in New Zealand's isolated Southern Alps with her partner, surviving by hunting and foraging. She shares her unique experience. Host Rosemarie Milsom (Supported by Creative New Zealand)
4pm-5pm Sophie Hardcastle, Nicola Redhouse and Maria Tumarkin discuss how they have challenged literary boundaries to explore trauma. Host Magdalena Ball
5pm-6pm This year's award, held in collaboration with Spineless Wonders, encouraged writers to use microlit to explore physical, psychological, environmental and historical scars. Hear readings by writers included in the Scars anthology. Host Cassandra Atherton
6pm-7pm Much-loved singer/songwriter Clare Bowditch discusses her heart-breaking, wise, and inspirational memoir. Host Sarah Macdonald