Writing NSW members Kel Butler and Pamela Cook are the team behind Writes4Festivals, a podcast that brings regional writing festivals to listeners everywhere. They spoke to us about how the podcast medium, how Writes4Festivals began and what’s in store for 2019.
What is Writes4Festivals?
Writes4Festivals is a podcast that showcases the rich conversations, books and ideas coming out of writing festivals across regional NSW and beyond. It gives everyone access to listen to the best panels and sessions from writing festivals that are geographically hard to get to but intellectually ripe in ideas.
What sparked the idea for the podcast and how did it become a reality?
It came from making our other podcast, Writes4Women, and from being writers ourselves. We both regularly attend writing festivals and Pamela is often on panels, speaking as an experienced author on all sorts of writing topics. It occurred to us that the only festivals being broadcast at the time were the big city ones that most people knew about, but we knew from first-hand experience that the regional writing festivals had just as much to offer the literary community. So, we applied for a grant from Writing NSW and Create NSW to extend our little podcast out to regional writing festivals – and we got it! That grant allowed us to buy the gear and get the education we needed to go out into the field and record regional writing festivals. By the end of 2018, we had recorded five festivals and launched the Writes4Festivals podcast.
Where has the podcast been so far?
So far we have recorded the Mudgee Readers’ Festival, the launch of Storyfest in Milton, the Scone Literary Festival, the National Young Writers’ Festival and the Feminist Writers Festival. Now we just have to finish releasing them all! 2018 was a big year for Pamela and I. We had to overcome some real challenges to make all of this happen in the cracks of life (we both work) but, we did it, and we can’t wait to keep podcasting regional festivals in 2019.
What does 2019 hold for Writes4Festivals?
This year we are excited to continue releasing the regional writing festivals we recorded in 2018. The National Young Writers’ Festival and the Scone Literary Festival podcasts are dropping over the coming months, and we will continue to follow the some of the festivals from last year, as well as add some new festivals into the mix for 2019. In particular, we are looking forward to the launch of the first ever Storyfest in Milton, which Writes4Festivals are honoured to be a big part of.
How might writers benefit from the podcast medium?
There are so many ways podcasting can help writers. Pamela and I are always using podcasts as writing resources, as a way to learn and extend our own writing craft or learn about things around the business of writing. But that’s not the only way in which writers can use podcasting – they can also use it as a marketing tool, by discussing their books and writing process in a podcast; or they can create their own podcast, and it doesn’t have to be a writing podcast, either. Finding a niche subject that relates to their writing, which will not only interest and help them but others too, works just as well. The trick in podcasting is to be down to earth and real in what you create and why. If you try to con the audience, they will know and tune out. Podcast listeners are pretty clued-up and interested people, they want to be informed, entertained and engaged. The advantage of making a podcast (or going on a podcast) comes with the connection. If the audience connects to you and your podcast, then they may extend their interest to whatever else you are creating in the world. Podcasts allow you to inexpensively and easily access a whole new audience whilst extending the one you already have.
Do you both have a favourite podcast episode from 2018?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. It’s like picking a favourite child. We both loved doing the Storyfest launch with Markus Zusak talking about the release of his new book, Bridge of Clay. That one was pretty special because of where it was and what it meant to the festival and to Markus personally… plus, it was a coup! It was the first recorded interview for his highly anticipated new book.
What other podcasts are you listening to at the moment?
There are so many it’s hard to keep up, so we will stick with our staple writing/festival podcasts:
- “Writer on the Road” with Mel Hammond is always gold
- “So You Want to Be a Writer” with Al Tait and Valerie Khoo from the Australian Writers Centre of course!
- “The Creative Penn” with Joanna Penn gives great advice
- “Magic Lessons” by Elizabeth Gilbert is brilliant for the stuck creative anda great companion to her book “Big Magic”
- “The Wheeler Centre” – but of course – no explanation needed there.
- “Ideas at the House” by the Opera House – all of their great festivals are played out here
- “Sydney Writers’ Festival”
- “Newcastle Writers Festival”
- “Conversations” by the ABC – because it is in the extraordinary details of everyday stories that the most amazing ideas come to life.
We also listen to quite a few psychology-based podcasts because understanding how people think and behave is a writer’s true job…
How can our readers stay in the loop of all Writes4Festivals news and updates?
So easy. Like us on Facebook @writes4festivals to get all the festival updates and releases as they happen. You can also listen to all of the Writes4Festivals podcast episodes via our website, www.writes4women.com, or you can subscribe (this is free and painless – we promise) in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Lastly, what are you both reading at the moment?
Honestly? This is going to crack everyone up. Pamela and I are both reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, because this is the year we get professional and organised…
A few years ago, armed with over 10 years production experience in the film and television industry, Kel uncovered a hidden passion for podcasting. Not just listening to podcasts but writing, producing and teaching them too.
Making positive podcasts for a positive a world.
This is Kel’s mission in life and through her podcasting village, Listen Up Podcasting, she’s well on the way to achieving it. Kel dipped her toe in the podcasting waters completely blind with her first show “Writes4Women”, a podcast all about celebrating women writers and support women’s rights, co-hosted with author Pamela Cook. From there Kel and Pam, explored the idea of a podcast that showcased writing festivals from around regional NSW and were fortunate to be granted funding to create the “Writes4Festivals” podcast, through Writing NSW and Create NSW, in 2018.
Since then Kel has been taught by some of the best in the Australian podcasting biz like Kate Montague and Belinda Lopez from “Audiocraft” and Miles Martignoni of “Heaps Good Media” and in 2018 Kel was one of the lucky recipients of the Audiocraft “Ladies Who Listen” mentorship program, which paired her with outstanding podcast producer, Jennifer Macey for 6 months. Kel now works with some of the best in audio production when it comes to developing her podcasts and is in development with some very exciting projects, exploring different narratives.
Kel’s true passion is to tell stories and make podcasts that add value to human existence, contribute to a better planet and evolve our understanding of connection. She is excited to explore how far the medium can push storytelling and design but she is most excited to teach the sheer joy and power of telling audio stories to others, inspiring people to tell their own.
Pamela Cook writes Rural and Contemporary fiction. Her novels feature complex women, tangled family relationships and sometimes a sprinkling of romance. Her first novel, Blackwattle Lake, was published in 2012 after being selected for the Queensland Writer’s Centre/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. Her following novels were Essie’s Way (2013), Close To Home (2015) and her fourth book, The Crossroads was released in December 2016. She is publishing a Women’s Fiction title, Cross my Heart in the second half of 2019. In her past life Pamela was a high school English teacher and in her latest incarnation she is the co-host of the exciting new podcasts Writes4Women and Writes4Festivals, and Program Director for the inaugural Storyfest Literary Festival happening in Milton on the NSW south coast in June 2019. An eclectic reader, Pamela also enjoys writing poetry and memoir pieces and is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. When she’s not writing, podcasting or festival planning she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horses, Morocco and Rio.
Pamela teaches writing courses and workshops through her business, Justwrite.