Festival of Colour

Festival of Colour

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One of the joys of being a new author with a book that has sparked some interest (so this puts me in a small but not elite group as interest is not a pseudonym for financially successful or even shortlisted for prizes) is the introduction to the world of festivals. Usually this means the Literary Festival circuit; earlier this year I was at Perth and Adelaide Writer’s Festivals and next month will be at the Sydney festival. But this weekend I have the pleasure of being invited to speak at a different sort of festival—the Festival of Colour, in Wanaka (near Queenstown) on the south island of New Zealand.

As far as I can gather, my husband and I are the only fiction authors. At the other festivals there is a tent full of piles of books and though never stated (perish the thought that we would be so crude), we are all—up to 50 or so authors, depending on the size of the festival—are all competing for readers. Because at the end of the day, genre or literary writers are the same—we want to be read. When I sneak into the bookseller’s tent at the beginning of the festival to rub a hand over the cover of my book and sigh that it is there amongst the greats and favourites our piles are all high. I try not to re-enter. If Andy Griffiths’ signing queue length is anything to go by compared to mine, our piles are not going to be the same at the festival end…I mean how can infanticide and a missing child compete with the ever growing Tree House???

At this festival though it will be the bookseller with just our books and a few non-fiction. I’m kind of used to the huge dwindling pile of Rosie Project’s and Rosie Effect’s and okay, it’s true they are closer to the 39 Storey Tree House than mine (in a feel good way, though Medea’s Curse has some uplifting moments) but people read thrillers and that’s what I write. Who needs to feel good when you are glued to the page terrified…

The festival is set on the shores of a lake, cloud covered mountains surrounding, already in April dusted with snow. The events themselves seem to be in a cocktail bar (my type of venue) or the Speigel tent where we are on and last night we saw Julia Deans singing Joni Mitchell. It was the perfect venue for her; lights bouncing off mirrored walls that lined the booths, occasionally the disco ball revolving to add sparkle to the dark red tones and smoky old-world feel. The tent takes three days to erect and tours the country for events such as this; it is well worth the toil. Deans was spectacular—the flowing brunette hair and at time sexy renditions reminded me of my heroine, Natalie King, who when she isn’t a forensic psychiatrist, sings in a rock’n’roll band. But when Deans did the more complex Mitchell songs with the crystal clear high notes in unexpected places, she was in a different league to my alter ego and took me places listening to the original even on vinyl all those years ago didn’t take me.

Today we got to appear there—nearly as many people buy a less smoky feel—and after the radio gig together in Perth this was the first real time Graeme and I got to be on stage together on equal terms (he’d interviewed me once). Asked to introduce each other could be a recipe for marriage over but after 25 years and a lot of real collaboration it was relaxed and fun. Many had read the Rosie’s but I don’t think anyone had read mine, so there was enough interest to ensure…well my line was at least as long as his!

To top it off? Battered Bluff oysters and chips with chardonnay on the lake shore. And despite threatening to, we’re still dry. Now a day writing with the wonderful lake and colours of Fall to inspire us.

Enjoying every minute.

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About annebuist

Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller. Professor Buist is married to novelist Graeme Simsion and has two children.
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