Women Writers' Literary Luncheon 12 April 2017

KEYNOTE SPEAKER : 'The trouble with telling tales: memoir and truth'

Beth Yahp

One starts a memoir either in foolhardy ignorance or a kind of dogged determination, but some questions keep cropping up. Is your life yours to tell, or does it also belong to everyone in it? Who has the right to tell, to force into words something as ephemeral and brimful as a life lived? Does one anticipate and deal with the fallout of telling ‘true’ tales – as memoirs should – not only in the family but also on a national level? Is it a free-for-all in a time of fake news and alternative facts?

Beth Yahp shares her experience of writing her ‘fictional memoir’ Eat First, Talk Later, which traces the love story of her parents in Malaysia from childhood during the Japanese Occupation to the Communist Emergency, Independence and Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trials and Reformasi movement. In it, official ‘facts’ contend with counterfactual histories and what-really-happened with what it felt like. Which is ‘true’? Is memoir, Beth wonders, open to invention: filled with stories we tell ourselves and others in order to survive?

WORKSHOP: 'Bringing the world to life'

Beth Yahp

What brings a place to life in a reader’s mind? How do we translate our experiences of real or remembered places into memorable sites a reader may step into? In this interactive writing workshop participants take an imaginary tour, do writing exercises to make things new, and share tips and tricks to bring the world to life on the page.

 Beth Yahp was born in Malaysia. Her award-winning novel The Crocodile Fury was published in several languages, and she wrote the libretto for Liza Lim’s contemporary opera Moon Spirit Feasting, which won an APRA award in 2002.

Beth has edited or co-edited collections of stories and essays. Her memoir Eat First, Talk Later was published by Penguin Random House in 2015. The Red Pearl and Other Stories and a new edition of The Crocodile Fury are due out with Vagabond Press in 2017. Beth runs writing workshops and lectures in the Creative Writing program at the University of Sydney.

Guest Speaker: 'Why I loved writing historical fiction'
Pam Bayfield
Pam Bayfield is a self-published author who has written twelve books over fifteen years. Her first one was a faction (fiction based on fact), followed by her autobiography, and four biographies have been fitted in and around her other writing.
Her first fiction, Silver Dreams, was the story of Broken Hill. One book was about her bilateral knee operation, followed by A Leading Lady about her actress aunt.
Pam’s first historical novel was For the Love of Grace, set in the 1850s and beyond in old Sydney Town and Manly. The sequel came out in 2016 and the last one in the trilogy, For the Love of Grace-the Next Generation, is to be launched at the War Vets in April. It covers the First World War, the 20s, 30s and up to the Second World War.Writing has played a big part in Pam's life and she has sold most of her books through book launches and talks. Pam has been the President of the Society of Women Writers and then the Treasurer.

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