September 25th

National Writers Forum 2018

Category: Writers Festival

I have just returned from the National Writers Forum 2018, where several hundreds of NZ authors gathered for a weekend of keynote speeches, lectures and workshops, a book launch and many wonderful chats over drinks and lunchables. There are so many highlights I’m not sure where to begin. Firstly, I was delighted to be present as Chris Else, my agent and mentor delivered the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture. His vast knowledge of NZ publishing and insights were challenging and inspiring.

On Saturday morning, the irresistible Lani Wendt Young shared the tremendously encouraging story of her journey to publication, beginning with self-publishing through to print publication. Her journey, bringing high quality commercial fiction, centring Samoan protagonists and culture has brought huge inspiration to thousands of young people all over the world. After listening to her speak, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Telesa trilogy, described as the “Pacific equivalent of Twilight”. I even got them signed.











Dr Anita Heiss spoke with great energy and humour, talking about her writing experience as an Aboriginal author. She had us in stitches, sharing her wisdom generously and warmly. We all felt like Anita was our new best friend.


It was a massive thrill to attend workshops lead by John Marsden, a true literary icon whose work I have deeply admired for years. His wealth of knowledge had me filling pages of my journal with quotes, tips and advice on language, editing, plot and the use of status in creating character. I even managed to get a photo with him and I’m pretty sure I came across as a gibbering fool.

Listening to the great Albert Wendt, Samoa’s first published author, was an incredible experience. Such a wise, insightful man.


I had a great time listening Catherine Robertson, Stef Green and Lani Wendt Young at the “Getting Hot And Bothered” session about writing sex scenes! Must admit that Catherine is my total lady crush.











I went to a fascinating panel about the International Market and the business aspects of being a writer and enjoyed the vastly entertaining Great Debate.

Whiti Hereaka launched her exciting new YA novel Legacy and it was very moving to be there and see it unveiled. I was quick to get a copy and have Whiti sign it. I am several chapters in and totally hooked.











The cherry on top of the experience was getting to catch up with so many lovely writer friends and to make wonderful new connections. I came home with my heart full.

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Rachael is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors and you can visit the NZSA at and the Top of the South branch Her publisher is Walker Books Australia