Go Get The Books: Rosalie Ham Thinks You Never Know Who You’ll Meet | Rural australia


RUral readers are expected for a bumper crop of established and emerging writers festivals taking place in rural areas throughout 2022, a crop that also offers a lot of flavor to city-dweller book lovers looking for them. getaways on the theme of literature.

Jerilderie-born author of The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham, says events in the bush have always provided a great excuse for a reunion of like minds. His vast literary circuit began with an invitation to speak at a writers’ festival in the country of Victoria.

“Shepparton was my homeland and I felt reassured about my first festival, but I was nervous that someone would accuse me of writing mean things about them, or small cities, or someone asks me a question that I couldn’t answer, ”she said. .

Rosalie Ham says rural writers’ festivals are compact and less frenetic. Photography: Mercedeh Makoul

“I arrived hours too early, my car loaded with all the fancy outfits I owned and full of nerves. I walked to the festival venue from the motel and ran into an old neighbor, was given a plate of food and a glass of wine, then sat at a table with some locals from Shep .

“I saw how the writers were just people in the green room, but turned into performers when they took to the stage. When it was time for me to present, I knew the audience had come to hear and appreciate, and that I had something to offer.

“Basically a big party”

In Ham’s experience, rural writers’ festivals are compact and less hectic.

“Everyone knows everyone in rural areas, so it’s a bit of a reunion, bonding and a happy place.

“There’s a main drag and a limited choice of meals so there’s no point being on your guard or pretending you don’t see romance or fantasy writers. At the end of the first day you will be the best and have learned something.

She says she was never approached while taking time out in a country town, but “a couple of women once waited outside my bathroom door to get me to sign their book.”

A distant literary event necessitated a memorable flight. “I didn’t recognize anyone in the departure lounge, but we started exchanging ‘glances’ when we realized how small the plane was,” she said.

“The pilot had to deliver the safety instructions on his knees. Conversation was impossible, and the plane shuddered, plunged and made its way over a lifeless, parched agricultural land below. He was a great leveler, and we were all relieved to crash into the waiting minibus. Then he left without our luggage so we had to throw an uey. From that point on, we were all inseparable.

For its general assembly in Alpha, Queensland, the Parents’ Association of Unaccompanied Children has set up a tent city. “They were all exactly the same, cared for at the army base, a gift package was waiting on each carefully prepared stretcher,” Ham said.

“People also slept in horse-drawn carriages and caravans. There were speeches, visiting dignitaries, local celebrities, a band, a dance, a bar – basically a big party that went smoothly over three days.

“It was one of the most impressive community cooperation efforts I have ever participated in.”

Ham also attended an Association of Parents of Lone Children event in Hatfield, NSW Riverina: give your speech tomorrow.

“It was a girls’ reunion, and the next day the hall was surrounded by a hundred or more four-wheel drive, the ladies were fixing a clogged toilet, and the children were hanged or perched on each branch up and down the floor. ‘huge tree.

“Inside the hangar, there was like the Royal Melbourne Show product room, the noise of discussions, exchanges of information, exchanges and deafening laughter. As expected, the day was marked by an impressive list of speakers, delicious food and went off without a hitch. “

“The world is small”

Ham’s escape novel The Seamstress and its screen adaptation introduced the world to seamstress Tilly Dunnage, who returns to her fictional hometown of Dungatar and unleashes an epic tale of retaliation. This portrait of rural Australia, now extended in the sequel The Dressmaker’s Secret, usually makes the languages ​​of the countries stir.

Alpha glamping tents
Alpha Glamping Tents – “a base proper to the Army base, a gift package waiting on each carefully crafted stretcher”. Photography: Sally Gall

“When I talk about small communities, I see body language change, people nodding and pushing their friends, and I can feel the harsh looks of those who have something to say.

“Once someone said, ‘My best friend’s dad was a transvestite, he owned the local frock shop,” Ham says, referring to fashionista Sergeant Horatio Farrat, the character played by Hugo Weaving. in the movie of his book.

According to Ham, it was this recognition and empathy that allowed The Dressmaker to reach his target long before the film’s release. “Most rural people are curious, a skill that is necessary to be successful in an environment that changes often but remains the same,” she says.

“The people of the countryside encounter the unexpected and are tolerant and tolerant, contrary to the general cliché stereotype that we so often see.”

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Vintage tailoring is often the hallmark of Ham’s appearances at country events. The Dressmaker film was directed by her childhood friend Sue Maslin, and they have traveled all over this film’s wake for festivals and rural occasions.

“Women came in wearing something they made 50 years ago that has stood the test of time, or their mother’s 1950s dress, or even their grandmother’s vintage couture.” , Ham said. “The guys dug up their father’s wedding suit.

“There is an underground movement, a vast cult of sewers, men and women who care for their sewing machines with fondness and come together in large numbers all over Australia to embroider and socialize, compete and learn.

Ham says she enjoys meeting readers at literary events because they remind her that book lovers are a tangible and insightful bunch; moreover, she keeps them in mind as she writes.

“You also learn to behave your best at all times because the world is small,” she says. “You never know who you’re going to run into.”

Country Writers Festivals 2022

Literary events will take place across regional and national Australia in 2022. Here’s a taste of what’s on offer:

Words Out West, Dalby, Queensland, March 4-19

Scone Literary Festival, Upper Hunter, NSW, March 11-13

Clunes Book Town, central Victoria, April 30-May 1

Bendigo Writers’ Festival, central Victoria, May 12-15

Margaret River Festival of Readers and Writers, Southwest Washington, May 13-15

Queenscliffe Literary Festival, South Victoria, May 13-29

Kyogle Writers’ Festival, Northern Rivers, NSW, May 13-15

Bathurst Writers and Readers Festival, Midwest, NSW, dates to be confirmed

Words on the Waves, Central Coast, NSW, June 3-6

Word Fest Toowoomba, Darling Downs, Queensland, June 4-5

Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival, Mid-North Coast, NSW, June 10-12

Outback Writers’ Festival, Winton, Queensland, June 21-21

Mildura Writers’ Festival, Northwest Victoria, July 14-17

Yarra Valley Writers’ Festival, Victoria, July 15-17

Wavy Lines, Broome, WA, July 29-31

Byron Writers’ Festival, Northern Rivers, NSW, August 5-7

Mudgee Readers’ Festival, Midwest, NSW, August 20-21

Words in winter, Daylesford, Victoria, August, dates to be confirmed

Write Around the Murray, Albury-Wodonga, NSW / Victoria, September 14-18

High Country Writers Festival, Glen Innes, New England, NSW, October 8-9

Tamar Valley Writers Festival, Tasmania, October, dates to be confirmed

Blue Mountains Writers Festival, Katoomba, NSW, October 21-23

Headland Writers’ Festival, Tathra, Far South Coast, NSW, October 28-30

Mountain Writers Festival, Macedonia, Vic, November, dates to be confirmed

Southern Highlands Writers Festival, Bowral, NSW, dates to be confirmed

IF Maitland, Lower Hunter, NSW, dates to be confirmed


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