What a table of knowledge
DISTINGUISHED journalist Kerry O'Brien has been announced as the keynote speaker for this year's Bellingen Readers and Writers and Festival.
The acclaimed former ABC presenter, who has penned an 880-page memoir detailing his 50-year career will be interviewed by Debbie Spillane in the closing Sunday night event of the festival, running June 7 to 9.
Organisers this week announced Walkley Award winning journalist Tom Iggulden, feminist writer and author Clementine Ford and SES TV's international correspondent Chris Hammer will also serve as special guests sitting on a panel titled '21st Century News and Information' on the Saturday night, chaired by One Plus One interviewer Jane Hutcheon.
Much loved author Morris Gleitzman, adult fiction and children's literature writer Anna Fienberg, Gleniffer-based writer and illustrator Colin Thompson and comical writer and primary school teacher Oliver Phommavan will also attend the festival and actress Elizabeth Routledge will run the Bello Poetry Slam on Friday, June 7.
It's Jenni Clement's second year as festival chair and she's excited the Crime and Mystery genre will be a particular focus for 2019.
"That was a bit of a push on my part," she said.
"It's got a huge audience, both in books and on TV."
Jenni said she's been struck by the strong demand for contemporary Australian writers on the festival circuit.
"It's been really interesting putting this together over the last few months, seeing just how popular and successful Australian writers are becoming," she said.
"There seems to be this huge demand for them both at home and overseas at the moment."
Other notable names coming for the weekend include ABC Radio Science Show host Robyn Williams, Catalyst presenter Jonica Newby, writer/academic Robert Manne and columnist/essayist Anne Manne, film director/scriptwriter Rachel Ward, Indigenous Studies academic Marcia Langton, novelist/short story author Robert Drewe, renowned historian Henry Reynolds, novelist/singer-songwriter Holly Throsby, Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan, bird expert Gisela Kaplan, music reviewer Bernard Zuel and literary editor Jason Steger.