Meeting your writing heroes – and speaking to them!

Like many writers, I can be a bit on the shy side. Now, some of you who know me personally might think I’m telling porkies, but it’s really true. If I’m teaching or training then that’s not a problem, and I’ve certainly got a lot less shy over the years, but the one thing that had eluded me until recently was the ability to go up and talk to famous people!

I’m not talking rock stars or presidents or anyone like that, because I’m sure I still wouldn’t have the guts to talk to them, but I have finally become just a little bit better at speaking to writers – who seem more like real people than weirdo celebrities, right?!

It all began very soon after the birth of my little boy, almost a year ago. My teenage-era hero, Australian journalist Jana Wendt, was coming to Perth to launch a book and there was an event scheduled right close to me. Problem was, I would most likely still be in hospital, or be nine and a half months pregnant and waiting. But (helpfully) my little boy arrived ten days early and so when the Jana Wendt event date rolled around, I decided to go. It was my first boy-less excursion and it was rather weird, but I really wanted to make the most of it. Knowing I had to get home quick-smart after the event finished (as my little one would probably be screaming the house down by then), I raced out of the lecture hall, bought her book and was third in line at the signing table.

Not content just to get my book signed, I willed myself to be brave enough to have a conversation. I blathered about how she’d been my hero as a teenager and I’d wanted to be a journalist because of her (her answer was something like she was sorry to hear that!), and I tell you, I was immensely proud of myself. And it seems this was the beginning of a new confidence.

At the recent Perth Writers Festival, I spoke to several authors after their presentations or events (at the very tent pictured above). Carmel Bird, an Aussie writing icon, and someone whose books have been sitting on my bookshelf forever, was just a normal person who liked the name of my son. Speaking with Natasha Lester, a local first-time novelist, reinforced for me that writers are ordinary people just like me, and that means that I could actually do it too. The only hero I didn’t get to meet was Ramona Koval – you’ve heard me rave about her ABC radio programme, The Book Show, before, and I sat enthralled through her role-reversal interview, but unfortunately I had a first birthday party (for a group of babies, mine included!) to dash to – I was already an hour and a half late, since I’d decided I couldn’t bear to miss seeing Ramona LIVE! I’ll just have to keep an eye out for another opportunity there – at least I know I’m brave enough already.

So my question for you: who’s the writing hero you’d love to meet? And are you brave enough to speak to them? Let me know in the comments.

Amanda Kendle


  1. I would love to meet American writer Joan Didion, who is almost 80 years old now so I’m not sure I’ll ever have the chance. I almost met her about 6 years ago when I was in England at the same time as the Hay Festival. She was speaking at the Festival that year so I duly caught several trains to go out there, paid an exorbidant price for the last available room in town only to discover that she’d had to cancel because she had pneumonia! Luckily the Festival was worth the trip regardless.

  2. Oh no, what a shame! Hope somehow you do get another chance.
    (And if you don’t, just assume that meeting her would have shattered your image of her and that you were better off daydreaming! I didn’t post about it but sometimes meeting some of my heroes hasn’t quite lived up to expectations!).

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