When writers brave precarious subject matter with increasing forthrightness, taboos stumble, fumble and tumble – and cultural conversations approach honesty.
Taking the shocking realities of domestic violence as a foundation, Anna George has crafted a powerful literary thriller; John Purcell, as ‘Natasha Walker’, writes erotic fiction from a female point of view; Kirsten Krauth’s first novel explores how sexual power is wielded in the online space; and Kate Belle’s dark erotica is suffused with shades of Lolita.
Streaming live from Bendigo Writers Festival, Emily Sexton talks to these four writers about exploring material at the periphery of polite society – and how they overcame their fear of going too far.
Note: this archived live stream begins 16 minutes into the embedded video. Use the scroll bar to save yourself the wait! An edited video will be published soon.
Emily Sexton is a former Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.
She was the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2014. Previously, she was Artistic Director of Next Wave (2010–14), where her key achievements were a radical rethink of an arts festival model, and a series of landmark commissions, publications and talks featuring First Nations artists, co-curated with Tony Albert and Tahjee Moar and titled Blak Wave.
In 2013, she was Artistic Director of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She was also Creative Producer for Melbourne Fringe Festival for 2008–10.
Emily has been a proud Board Member for Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets and Theatre Network Victoria, and is alumnus of the Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (2011). She is a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and other philanthropic trusts and foundations. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications, English) from the University of Sydney (2005). She is a regular host and facilitator for writers’ festivals and arts organisations around Australia.
Anna George is a Melbourne-based writer. Initially trained as a lawyer, Anna has worked in the legal world as well as the film and television industries. What Came Before is Anna’s first novel; she is currently working on her second, set on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Both books are to be published by Penguin Australia.
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia.
Kirsten Krauth is a writer and podcaster based in Castlemaine. Her second novel Almost a Mirror, published in 2020, was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and named by The Guardian in ’The Best 20 Australian Books of 2020’. Her Almost a Mirror podcast series, inspired by the '80s pop and post-punk songs in her book, was released in September 2021, hitting #2 on the Australian Apple Music Podcast charts. A mash up of documentary and fiction, she is collaborating with musicians like Amanda Brown and Adalita on a soundtrack to the podcast.
Kate Belle is an author of challenging love stories. The Yearning and Being Jade (Simon & Schuster) received rave reviews.
Her short story, 'Cool Change', won the 2011 Southern Cross Literary Award and the script by the same name received a highly commended in the 2012 Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards.