Fitzroy Writers Festival: Q&A with Sam Boivin

Here at Grattan Street Press we are very excited for the Fitzroy Writers Festival on 6 April. In anticipation for this event, our own Ella Patrick interviewed the festival’s creator, Sam Boivin, to get the inside scoop on what to expect come Saturday.

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Would you like to introduce yourself and your role in the Fitzroy Writers Festival?

My name is Sam Boivin, I am The Ewing Trust Officer at Fitzroy Library, Yarra Libraries. I conceptualised, developed and will be managing the Fitzroy Writers Festival.

When you’re not organising writers festivals for Yarra Libraries, what do you do?

I develop and run free community events and programs at Fitzroy Library and Town Hall.

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Photo credit: Sam Boivin

What made you want to start a festival like this?

Fitzroy has an incredible literary history. Fitzroy Library is situated at Fitzroy Town Hall, which is a beautiful old building. The local community is very supportive of the diverse range of free programming that Yarra Libraries provides. A writers Festival in Fitzroy is a great idea!

How do you see Pitch Our Tent fitting into the activities at the festival?

During the initial brainstorming of the festival, the Grattan Street Press Pitch Tent was one of the first things we wanted. As the saying goes: everyone has a book in them. Some people may just have a basic idea, some may have started writing things down, and some may have something in the final draft stage. The Grattan Street Press Pitch Tent is an opportunity to talk to people with real experience to help develop ideas and give practical tips on publishing.
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That’s very flattering! What event are you most excited for (after our tent, of course)?

Hmmm… Too many to choose from! Justin Heazlewood is a very funny guy, and his event will be held in the old Council Chambers, a room that the public hardly ever get to see. The music fan in me is looking forward to seeing acclaimed local singer/songwriter Emma Russack play a solo gig on the Fitzroy Library floor. Growing Up African In Australia will showcase the diverse, engaging, hopeful and heartfelt stories of African-diaspora Australians. But if I had to choose one, I’d say it would be having Behrouz Boochani join us via web feed from Manus Island. His incredible book No Friend but the Mountains was recently awarded the Victorian Prize for Literature.

Some of these events fill up so be sure to register in advance!

How do self-published authors fit into the festival program?

We hope that the festival inspires people to start writing and publishing themselves! One of our events, The Ten Things No-One Tells You About Writing, will feature eight-time author Catherine Deveny talking about the dos and don’ts of writing and publishing. For younger audiences, Melbourne Young Writers Workshops will run throughout the day. And The Booksellers Marketplace will feature self-published authors selling their titles!

Fitzroy Writers Festival is major event in the Yarra Libraries calendar in 2019

Can you tell us more about the ‘free book giveaways’ you mention on the website?

Sure! There are five libraries in the City of Yarra, and our books are well loved. This meets that need to regenerate our collection with new books on a regular basis. We give the most-well-loved books away, including new releases from our Red Hot Reads collection. Come along and see what you can find!

We will definitely check those out. I can see that becoming a real feature of the festival. In the future, where do you see this festival going?

This is the very first Fitzroy Writers Festival, made possible by the Ewing Trust. I’d like to see it get bigger in the years ahead, and continue to showcase the diversity of the local community.

In your own words, what is this festival about?

It is free to the public, and will include a big line-up of informative and inspiring writer’s talks and panels, featuring an incredible and diverse line up of writers, as well as a Booksellers’ marketplace, kid’s workshops and activities, and more!

And of course, you know I have to ask: who is your favourite writer?

Once again, too many choices! But Chuck Klosterman.

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We look forward to seeing you all on Saturday.

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