When Truman Capote published his 1959 groundbreaking ‘non-fiction novel’ In Cold Blood, he pointed to an obvious inconvenience that came with the new literary territory: ‘The reporter, unlike the fantasist, has to deal with actual people who have real names’.
The high stakes of creative non-fiction – the fact that real people are affected – are the genre’s allure as well as its fundamental problem. Could anyone get away with a book like In Cold Blood today?
For this discussion, hosted by creative non-fiction author, editor and teacher Lee Kofman, we’re bringing together some stars of Australia’s creative non-fiction scene. Our panellists will discuss their own research and writing practices, their rules to write by and their heroes in the genre.
What defines creative non-fiction? How are attitudes towards creative non-fiction changing among writers, publishers and the reading public in Australia today? And do great works of this genre derive their energy from their authors’ ethical predicaments?
La Trobe University historian Associate Professor Clare Wright has worked as an author, academic, political speechwriter, historical consultant, and radio and TV broadcaster. Her latest book, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians who won the vote and inspired the world, has been praised by Senator Penny Wong and Sr Anne Summers AO. Her earlier book, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, won the 2014 Stella Prize and the 2014 NIB Award for Literature and was shortlisted for many other awards.
Ramona Koval is a writer, journalist, broadcaster and editor. She is an Honorary Fellow at the centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.
Kate Holden is the author of the memoirs In My Skin: A memoir and The Romantic: Italian nights and days. She wrote a long-running column for the Age and has published features, reviews, essays and short stories in all the major Australian journals and newspapers.
Dr Lee Kofman is a Russian-born, Israeli-Australian novelist, short story writer, essayist, memoirist and former academic based in Melbourne. She is the author of three fiction books (published in Israel in Hebrew) and the memoir The Dangerous Bride (Melbourne University Press 2014). Lee is also the co-editor of Rebellious Daughters (Ventura Press, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by prominent Australian authors. Her short works have been widely published in Australia, USA, Canada, Israel, the UK and Scotland. Lee holds a PhD in social sciences and MA in creative writing, and is a mentor and teacher of writing. She is also a regular public speaker and panel moderator.