Reams of local talent
THERE is no shortage of writing talent on the Northern Rivers, and this year's Byron Bay Writers' Festival will feature a new crop of local authors - Jessie Cole, Lisa Walker, Shamus Sillar, Jim Hearn and Amanda Webster.
All are novelists published by the industry's leading houses, and have either grown up on the North Coast or now call the area home.
When Lisa Walker moved to Lennox Head in 1999 her seachange eventually inspired her to pick up a pen and begin the draft of her first novel, Liar Bird.
"When I moved here, I'd left the city and had the head space to begin writing," says the author who has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins.
Walker says the area is par- ticularly supportive of budding writers.
"There is the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre, and there is a close community of local writers, and the writers' festival - the North Coast is a cultural hub."
Liar Bird is a romantic comedy set in the Northern Rivers, which Walker believes was an advantage when it came to pitching her book to publishers.
"Publishers really liked that it was set in the Northern Rivers, says Walker, who believes the novel may appeal to city dwellers considering a move to the area.
Walker is looking forward to her first time speaking at the festival, having been to the festival "at least 10 times" since her move to Lennox Head.
"I always come away from the writers' festival feeling inspired."
When Walker was working on her first novel, she found it encouraging to hear authors talk of the difficulties getting published and how they coped with publishers' rejections, before finally getting published.
"It was good to hear of other authors' experiences that were like mine. It reminded me that getting published was achiev- able."