Ruby Slipper Interview: Melbourne Writer’s Festival Director Lisa Dempster


If there’s two things I love that you KNOW I love – they’re books and festivals. Cue the Ruby Slipper happy dance for the impending Melbourne Writer’s Festival, which looks to be more jam-packed with writerly and social inquisition than ever before. Today we’re proud to feature an interview with Festival Director Lisa Dempster, who has hand-picked a few ‘unmissable’ events on the program to come (22nd August – 1st September). For those of you who haven’t touched a book since Uni or High School, don’t be thinking this is only for the J.M. Coetzee fans or those who claim to have finished a Tolstoy tome. Oh no – there’s bloggers, comedians, Lord May of London Boris Johnston and more to enjoy. Inquire Within – a suitable byline for a festival we’re looking forward to sharing with you.  Here’s Lisa!

RS: Lisa, please describe your career in three words. 

LD: Literary, experimental, fun.

RS: Is there a particular ‘type’ of person who routinely attends the MWF? What key events might woo people who haven’t touched a book since high school or university? 

LD: Really we have all kinds attending MWF, from bookworms to political junkies to people who might not even realise that the gig they are enjoying is a part of a writer’s festival! For people who don’t consider themselves bookish, I would recommend looking at our music and performance events. The Moth storytelling event and Friday Night Live chatshow events will be brilliant nights out and our Songwriter Speaks sessions are all about the music. 

RS: What is your key recommendation for a person with a ‘book’ inside them. How could they go about getting their tale ‘told’?

LD: There are so many ways to tell stories these days – you might write a book, start a blog, try out slam poetry, get active on social media…! The best advice I have for emerging writers is to read widely and constantly, and put your work out there for feedback whenever you can. 

RS: Tell us about your top three unmissable events at the upcoming MWF.

LD: I think The Moth mainstage is going to be really special; the discussion at Digital Drive will be really helpful for anyone wanting to navigate writing in the online space; and Liner Notes is going to be an amazing party!

RS: Are bloggers journalists? 

LD: They can be! But really there are so many kinds of blogs and bloggers out there I don’t like to define the word too much. I read a wide variety of blogs, including personal blogs, recipe or review blogs, and multi-author news blogs… I think that blogs are now an accepted platform and we’ve (mostly!) moved beyond thinking of them as an amateur undertaking.

RS: What is your desert island book?

LD: Just one? I would try and tackle Ulysses at last!



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