New and Old Friends – Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival Day 3

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

This years festival has been outstanding! I have been privileged to hear some great authors share stories about their latest releases and writing in general. Some are “old friends” (authors I have read previously to the festival), some are “newly discovered friends”.   Thank  you Sulari Gentill, Sara Foster (and hello to Sara’s charming parents), Dr Liz Byrski, Rosemary SayerBernice Barry, Ann Turner, Madelaine Dickie, Josh Langley, Ian Andrew (always a delight to meet a fellow blogger who just happens to be a best selling crime fiction writer)  What generous people you all are!  Sadly I could not attend every session or the External/parallel events… so much talent so little time 🙂


I will wind up my spotlight on the festival with a few images from day 3.


day 3 MRRWF 005

Short Story Panel


Michael Cathcart interviews Ann Turner

Michael Cathcart interviews Ann Turner





Berry and Mascarpone Tart – The Art Of Traditional Italian – Lucio Galletto

The Art of Traditional Italian

Extracted from The Art of Traditional Italian by Lucio Galletto,

published by Lantern, RRP$59.99


photography by Ben Dearnley



This beautiful summer tart is perfect for large gatherings and picnics. It is usually filled with vanilla pastry cream (see page 235), which just requires assembly rather than further baking, but I prefer this lighter version with mascarpone. I have suggested topping the tart with mixed summer berries, but it works well with most fruits, particularly figs if you are making it in autumn.

This recipe makes enough pastry for two tarts, because one is never enough – and you can freeze the other portion of pastry for several months, ready for the next time you have guests.” (pp 228-229)

Berry marscapone tart

1 egg

1 egg yolk

80 g caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon finely grated zest of 1 orange

1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped

30 ml Cointreau

500 g mascarpone

fresh berries, to serve



500 g plain flour, sifted

170 g pure icing sugar,sifted

250 g chilled butter, chopped

3 eggs



For the pastry, mix together the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture has a sandy consistency. Add 2 of the eggs and use a flat-bladed knife to mix lightly, until combined. Press together to form a dough, then divide in half. Shape each half into a ball and cover in plastic film. Place one in the fridge to rest for 1 hour, and freeze the other one for later.


Spray a 24 cm loose-based fluted tart tin with cooking oil. Place the chilled pastry on a floured surface and roll out to a very thin circle, about 4 cm larger in diameter than the tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry, pressing  it gently into the sides. Pinch the excess pastry 1 cm above the rim of the tart tin, then place in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.


Preheat the oven to 160°C.


Line the pastry shell with baking paper, fill with baking beads, uncooked rice or dried beans and blind bake for 25–30 minutes until golden brown. Take out of the oven and remove the paper and weights. Beat the remaining egg and lightly brush over the pastry shell to seal the surface, then return to the oven for a few minutes to cook the egg. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, trim any excess pastry with a sharp knife. Reduce the oven temperature to 110°C.


To make the filling, use a balloon whisk to beat the egg, egg yolk, sugar, lemon and orange zest, vanilla seeds and Cointreau in a large bowl until just combined. Add the mascarpone and whisk until combined. Fill the cooled pastry shell with the mascarpone mixture to about three-quarters full. Bake for 1 hour or until the surface looks set when you give the tart a gentle shake. Arrange the berries on top. Enjoy!








Highlights From Day 2 of The Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Day 2 and more talented authors get my attention. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the session named “Writing From Home”.  Natasha Lester is an author to inspire – confident, articulate, engaging and I am predicting that “A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald” will be an award winner.

Natasha Lester

If you get an opportunity to hear Natasha Lester speak at a book launch/festival or the like – do! It is a pleasure to listen to Natasha read from her novel – a wonderful presenter!  Again Rosemary Sayer was the perfect facilitator.


What more could you want? A free session! Today’s free session (yes there are usually free session on the lunch tome breaks) featured Dr Liz Byrski  and Rachel Robertson discussing the book they edited – Purple Prose – a collection of fifteen works of non fiction by Australian women writers.

In Love and War

So may great sessions today, so many great authors/editors/presenters/facilitators … Andrew Daddo, Jane Monk, Mark Dapin, Kirsty McKenzie, Loretta Hill, Gretel Killeen and last but not least  Bernice Barry.


Bernice Barry’s session – “Flowers at Home” put the spotlight on Berncie’s new release “Georgiana Molloy -The Mind That Shines.”  An exquisitely produced book (the cover art is award winning) and meticulously researched, this is another book to add to your TBR.


Georgiana Molloy: the Mind that Shines’


There was something for everyone again today!

Gnocchi Verdi: The Art Of Traditional Italian – Lucio Galletto

The Art of Traditional Italian Extracted from The Art of Traditional Italian by Lucio Galletto,

published by Lantern, RRP$59.99’; and

photography by Ben Dearnley,



“These spinach gnocchi were one of the great tenor Caruso’s favourite dishes. When he was booed after a show in Naples, Caruso famously said he would never sing there again, but he would go back to eat its wonderful food, and these gnocchi were one of the reasons to return.” (p.86-87)

Gnocchi verdi

700 g potatoes (desiree or similar)

400 g spinach, washed, stems removed 1 egg

150 g plain flour

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 80 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 golden shallot, finely chopped 400 g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved handful of basil leaves

100 g freshly grated parmesan




Place the potatoes in a saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20–30 minutes, until tender.


While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the spinach. Wash the leaves well and place them in a saucepan over medium heat, with just the water clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook for a few minutes, until wilted. Drain in a fine-meshed sieve and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible. Place on a chopping board and chop very finely.


When the potatoes are ready, drain well and peel while still warm. Pass through a mouli or potato ricer into a large bowl and allow to cool, then add the spinach and the egg. Mix lightly and quickly with a fork, then add the flour and season with salt. Quickly use your hands to form the mixture into a dough. Don’t work it too much or the gnocchi will be tough. Divide the dough into 6 portions.


Working on a well-floured surface, use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a long rope the thickness of your finger. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into evenly sized pieces, about 2–4 cm long. As you cut the gnocchi, lay them on a floured tea towel in a single layer; do not let them touch each other. When they are all done, roll each one over the tines of a fork to create the classic grooves that will hold the sauce. If you prefer, you can press your finger onto the middle of each one instead. Set aside.


Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and sauté the shallot, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomatoes and sauté gently, stirring from time to time, for 10–15 minutes, until the tomatoes break down. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the basil, reserving some for a garnish. Mix and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat.


Cook the gnocchi in plenty of boiling salted water by placing them on a plate and tilting the plate over the boiling water, allowing them to slide in gently. As the gnocchi rise to the surface, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the frying pan with the sauce. Return the pan to low heat, toss the gnocchi gently with half the parmesan, then serve hot sprinkled with the reserved basil and with the rest of the parmesan on the side.






86                                 —  MINESTRE  —

Gnocchi verdi

Spotlight On The Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival – Rosemary Sayer

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Welcome author Rosemary Sayer to my blog, to Margaret River and to the festival.

Rosemary Sayer is a former journalist, a business communications consultant and the biographer of Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of Hopewell Holdings, Hong Kong (The Man who Turned the Lights On) and Trevor Eastwood, former chairman and CEO of Wesfarmers Limited (The CEO, the Chairman and the Board). She teaches professional writing at Curtin University and is a board member of not-for-profit organisations supporting refugees (Edmund Rice Centre) and the arts (writingWA) in Western Australia. She has worked extensively throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and currently lives in Perth with her husband, Terry Grose

Rosemary Sayer

Rosemary’s shares her journey of writing More to the Story in her session – Searching For a Home Friday 3rd of June  1.50-2.40pm.  I caught up with Rosemary during the week and this is what she had to say about this life changing writing experience:

Searching for Home – Rosemary Sayer at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Australia has a proud multicultural heritage and is greatly enriched by refugees from around the world so I am really looking forward to a discussion with Will Yeoman, Literary Editor  at the West Australian about my recent book More to the story –conversations with refugees.  It’s a chance for me to share the inspiring stories of refugees from Burma, Afghanistan and South Sudan who have made Western Australia home. 

More to the Story

As the negative and de-humanising comments about refugees in some parts of our media and by politicians continues, I hope our discussion will give people a better insight into the life of a person from a refugee background living in Australia.  I spent nearly three years researching and writing the book, even spending time in a refugee camp on the Thai Burmese border.  I know Will is also keen to explore my own journey in writing this book which combines history, commentary and personal memoir alongside deeply moving interviews and conversations. It has been a life changing experience for me which I hope people will find interesting. 


Publishing details: More to the story-conversations with refugees is published by Margaret River Press  RRP $27.95.

Spotlight On The Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival – Madelaine Dickie

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Welcome to my blog, Margaret River and to the festival Madelaine Dickie author of Troppo, a book about ” big waves, black magic and mad Aussie expats.”  Madelaine won the TAG Hungerford award in 2014 for an unpublished manuscript which the judges described as  ‘A beautifully observed novel with a strong sense of place about a young Australian abroad witnessing a culture and caught up in events she only half understands.’ 2014 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Judges’ Report.  Looks like I have discovered another great Australian writer!

Madelaine Dickie

Madelaine shares her writing journey with us.


On writing a surfing novel in Indonesia

The idea for Troppo came about on a surf trip to mainland Sumatra, Indonesia, during my mid-year university holidays in 2009. I was twenty-three, and had already travelled quite extensively through Indonesia. I’d nearly drowned surfing Racetracks at Uluwatu—my leg jammed stuck between two bits of coral; I’d got malaria on Pulau Lembata, in a village where the people still hunt whales in strict accordance with ancient taboos; I’d had a gun pointed at my face crossing the border between West Timor and Timor Leste. On all the islands I visited, I had this tingling feeling that there was magic, danger, and stories to be found. This trip to Sumatra on my uni break was no different, only I found something extra—a setting for Troppo, a village half-real and half-imagined, with its back to a chain mountains and its face to the sea.

I started writing.

In 2012, I was awarded a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award to move to Indonesia for a year and finish the first draft of Troppo. I didn’t move to Sumatra, but to a small fishing village in West Java, where my partner and I rented a local house a street back from the sea. It was difficult living in earshot of the ocean—the ocean has this energy that tends to amp you, call you to it. At night, we could hear the tide rise, feel the earth shudder with the impact of the waves. During the day, we could see the offshore wind in the palms, the swell lines curving around the point. Sometimes it was really hard finding the discipline to write. Surfing is easier than writing—everything is easier than writing! When my partner announced strike missions with the boys to some of the big-ticket Indo surf spots like G-Land, Lakey Peak and Panaitan, I had to grit my teeth and say no, I couldn’t come. My target was five hundred words a day. Sometimes I knocked it over in an hour, sometimes it took eight. Always I bribed myself—you can’t go for a second surf, or to Ibu Cici’s beauty salon, or drink any mojitos until you’re done.

Skip ahead several years, from West Java, to Jakarta, to Broome, and finally Troppo was done. I submitted the manuscript for the 2014 City of Fremantle T.A.G Hungerford Award and it won!!! Fremantle Press are launching the book in August this year, and pre-orders are available through the Margaret River Bookshop now. I’m also excited to be heading south for the Margaret River Writers’ Festival on the 3rd-5th June to talk about Troppo. If you’re keen to read a book about big waves, black magic and mad Aussie expats … a story that tingles with the danger and thrill of living somewhere as extraordinary as Indonesia … then I’d love to meet you there.

Spotlight On Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival – Liz Byrski

Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

Please welcome Dr Liz Byrski to my blog and to the festival.

 liz byrski

Liz Byrski is a writer and broadcaster with more than 50 years experience in the British and Australian media. She is the author of thirteen non-fiction books and nine novels, and her work has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines.

In the nineties Liz was a broadcaster and executive producer with ABC Radio in Perth and later an advisor to a minister in the Western Australian State Government; she has a PhD on the subject of feminist popular fiction, and is now the Director of the China Australia Writing Centre at Curtin University.

Liz was born in London and spent most of her childhood in Sussex. As an only child she spent a lot of time alone, much of it buried in books. She began her working life at 16, as a secretary, and later moved into journalism working as a reporter on a local newspaper, until she took up freelance writing when her children were born.

Liz emigrated to Australia with her family in 1981 and worked as a freelance journalist/writer in Perth writing for a variety of publications including The Australian, New Idea, Homes and Living, Cosmopolitan, the Australian Financial Review, The Woman Writer, and The West Australian.  For several years she was a broadcaster with ABC Radio 720 6WF, where she was best known for hosting The Grapevine program with Peter Holland.


All I can say is WOW – what credentials!!!


I asked Liz for some information about the events she will be participating in, in this years festival and she replied: 

“I’m really looking forward to participating in this year’s Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. I’ll be in two events on Friday and one on Saturday, as well as being involved in the Write Advice Curtin Writing and Publishing Flash Mob, also on the Saturday.

On Friday morning I’ll be talking with Chinese poet, essayist and translator, Huiyi Bao, about her book of essays on Irish culture as well as her research into religious poetry. She’ll read some of her poems, talk about her translations of the work of Margaret Attwood and Elizabeth Bishop, and how her book has become a best-seller in mainland China.

On Saturday over lunch, Rachel Robertson and I will discuss Purple Prose – an anthology of fifteen new works by some wonderful Australian women writers, inspired by the colour purple. As that is the day I will also be meeting and giving feedback to emerging writers at The Write Advice, it’s going to be a busy one!

In Love and War

Also on the Friday I’ll be talking with Rosemary Sayer about my latest book In Love and War: Nursing Heroes. It is my memoir of growing up in the small Sussex town of East Grinstead where some WWII airmen, who were chronically facially burned, were treated with pioneering plastic surgery by surgeon St Archibald McIndoe. The book is about those men, the surgical ‘guinea pigs’ who formed the international Guinea Pig Club, and the women who nursed them. Having been terrified of them as a small child I went back there in 2007 to interview them and to try to find some of the nurses.

In Love and War

Rosemary and I were part of a really enjoyable conversation at the recent Perth Writers Festival and I’m looking forward to joining her again to talk about this book.

In Love and War is my thirteenth non-fiction book. I have also written nine novels and have been involved in several anthologies. And there is a new novel due out very soon. You can find out more about my books, and sign up to follow my blog on my website at ”