WRITERS FESTIVAL: Festival administrator Emily Brugman, author and broadcaster Benjamin Law, festival chair Adam van Kempen, marketing and communications manager Anika Ebner and event co-ordinator Eleanor Blackstock.
WRITERS FESTIVAL: Festival administrator Emily Brugman, author and broadcaster Benjamin Law, festival chair Adam van Kempen, marketing and communications manager Anika Ebner and event co-ordinator Eleanor Blackstock. Christian Morrow

Writing the Future

BYRON Bay Writers Festival is about more than the books - the festival is also about the ideas and conversations that drive civilisation.

This week saw the announcement of the 140 writers and speakers who will take part in 120 sessions from August 2-4 at Elements of Byron as well writers' workshops, children's programs and satellite events across the region.

"More than ever our world needs writers, poets, environmentalists, commentators, politicians and artists who shape stories of hope, courage and change,” festival director Edwina Johnson said.

Writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law, whose book Growing up Queer in Australia has just been released, was in town to help launch the official program.

"I'm really proud of my new book one of an ongoing series that began with the book Growing up Asian in Australia,” Mr Law said.

"That was an anthology that changed my career and life and I know if I had a book like that growing up it would have been extraordinary.”

Ms Johnson said lovers of fiction would be delighted with a line-up including Markus Zusak (Bridge of Clay) and Gail Jones (The Death of Noah Glass).

"Our international guests include New York Times best-selling author of Pachinko Min Jin Lee and Kurdish-Iranian refugee and award-winning author of No Friend But The Mountains Behrouz Boochani will appear via live stream from Manus Island where he has been detained since 2013.

"A.C. Grayling will deliver the annual Thea Astley Address on the The Crisis of Democracy.”

The festival will also host writers and commentators such as Stan Grant (Australia Day and On Identity), Kerry O'Brien (Kerry O'Brien: A Memoir), Peter Greste (The First Casualty) and Leigh Sales (Any Ordinary Day).

Byron Bay's love affair with surfing and music will combine when blues man Ash Grunwald discusses his first book Surf by Day, Jam by Night, a collection of candid interviews he did with 15 of the world's top surfer/musicians including Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Jack Johnson. On Sunday audiences will then get to raise their own voices in communal song with Shire Choir to close the festival.

Residents of Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed council areas can access special $80 Sunday Locals Tickets, supported by Stone & Wood. For the program and tickets visit www.byron writersfestival.com/festival.