In their other lives, these Words on the Waves guests…

It’s no secret that authors live a thousand lives, whether that be within their own writing or across multiple professions, and the wonderful contributors for Words of the Waves show just how enriched their work is by this.

With a large array of different backgrounds and occupations, it’s inspiring to note how and where different influences surface within their works.

Diving into the historian profession are such authors as Ian Hoskins (Australia & the Pacific: a History), Michael Bennett (Pathfinders), Anna Clark (Making Australian History) and Stephen Gapps (Gudyarra), to name a few. Each of these contributors utilise their research skills and years as a historian to fully explore their own focus areas on our history as a nation (And does Anna Clark’s name sound familiar? Yes, it’s because she is the granddaughter of one of Australia’s most influential historians, Manning Clark).

When writing on grief, authors Amani Haydar (The Mother Wound), Louise Milligan (Witness), and Jackie Bailey (The Eulogy) draw respectively from their own experiences as lawyers, investigative reporters, and funeral directors. These, at times, grueling professions help to enrich their non-fiction and auto-fiction works, as they show a level of care throughout when handling hard-hitting subject matter. Amani Haydar is also an accomplished artist, her self-portait also featuring her murdered mother, ‘Insert headline here‘ making the Archibald Prize finalist list in 2018.

Visual art also makes an appearance in written works from Omar Musa (Killernova) and Heidi Everett (My Friend Fox). Omar Musa’s musical talents certainly assist in his compilation of poetry, along with his visual art skills, demonstrated in his use of woodcut block art throughout the pages of Killernova. Similarly, Heidi Everett, a multidisciplinary artist as well as an author, combines her use of line drawings in her biographic work My Friend Fox as another way of expression.

Drawing from their experience as a teacher, Jessica Walton helps to open up on the important conversation surrounding gender identity in their book children’s book Introducing Teddy, which encourages younger readers to think about gender identity in an accessible, safe space. Wendy McCarthy (Don’t Be Too Polite, Girls) also utilises her roots as a secondary teacher to advocate for education, family, and human rights.

From the stage comes Debra Keenahan and Bryan Brown. Debra Keenahan explores Critical Disability Aesthetics in her stage performance ‘Big Little Woman’ as well as ‘Smashing’ (shown above) by placing the emphasis on the politics of visible difference, while also contributing in the anthology We’ve Got This: Stories by Disabled Parents. Bryan Brown compiles years of stories collected in his head while working on film and TV sets in his short story collection Sweet Jimmy, through the lens of the crime genre.

And from the podium comes Liesl Tesch, who brings her experience as a Paralympian to the Words on the Waves festival. Specialising in both women’s wheelchair basketball and in mixed two person sailing, Liesl Tesch demonstrates the determination and grit it takes to lead a competitive sporting career. (Speaking of sport, we have a few avid surfers in our lineup too, including Emily Brugman and Favel Parrett!)

Liesl Tesch also has a political career as Labor Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, representing Gosford since 2017. When it comes to politics, Words on the Waves is heavily represented, with moderator and author Jess Scully also the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, and journalist Ed Coper also has a storied history working on political campaigns with Labor, Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg to name a few.

Worked up a hunger reading all that? Matthew Evans would be your go-to, not only having blazed a trail as a food critic over many decades, and now he is at the helm of Fat Pig Farm, a paddock-to-plate establishment in Tasmania. (He boasts a few beautiful cookbooks, as well).

These are just some of the extraordinary authors set to make an appearance at the Words on the Waves festival this June 3 – 6 (and we haven’t even touched on past lives!) Did you know about these contributors’ other pursuits?

Check out the program here to learn where you can see them in action during the festival.