Nature Writing @ Reality Bites

September 12th, 2014 by inga

Inga will be teaching a nature writing workshop as part of the Reality Bites Writers Festival at Cooroy Library on Friday morning, 24 October. Reality Bites is a wonderful non-fiction festival (though touches of fiction are creeping in, showing how blurry that line can be), which this year will be held in Eumundi as well as Cooroy.

The workshop is designed for fiction and nonfiction writers with a passion for the natural world, as well as professional writers in environmental fields. You’ll focus on techniques for bringing landscapes, flora and fauna to life for your audience, including: evocative description, effective use of emotion, and the importance of story.

The workshop combines instruction, writing examples from the world’s best nature writers, and a range of writing exercises to help you hone your craft and learn more about the inspiring genre of nature writing.

You can book your place in the workshop here.

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Developing Your Novel masterclass @BWF14

August 26th, 2014 by inga

Saving the manuscript, “Just in cases” (from Love Actually).

I’ll be teaching a masterclass about how to develop your novel from zero draft to masterpiece at this year’s Brisbane Writer’s Festival.

We’ll be looking at a mix of practical techniques for structuring and mapping your story as well as some more playful ideas for developing your themes and characters – finding the magic in your story.

You can find details about the workshop, and the other sessions I’m involved with at the festival here:










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On Rooks

August 11th, 2014 by inga

I’ve kept this picture of two Lewis chessmen on the wall by my writing desk for more than ten years. There’s something about the beserker, crazy-eyed and biting his shield.

Seventy-eight chessmen were found on the Isle of Lewis, in the outer Hebrides, in 1831. They date back to the twelfth century, and are thought to have come by sea from Trondheim, Norway. Perhaps that’s the appeal; I’m of Scots descent, with suspected Viking influences, and a medieval obsession.

Today, the chessmen and women (eight queens) are held between the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. This has been controversial, with Scotland believing the pieces should come ‘home’ – even more relevant given this year’s Scottish independence referendum.

I long to hold one piece, to smooth the walrus ivory, the carved detail, all that history. And … slip it into my pocket.

The picture inspired a gift from my former partner: a replica Lewis chess set. She was upset that the beserker’s teeth are not as prominent as the originals, but I handle them – the rooks – most days.

This month, my mother returns from a tour of the Scottish Isles, including the Isle of Lewis. I’m hoping a chessman makes one more journey.



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BBWF: Nature Writing Workshop

July 8th, 2014 by inga
I’m heading south for the Byron Way Writers Festival at the end of this month, hoping for the blissful Byron weather that the tent festival nearly always manages to delivers up. I’m looking forward to seeing Jeanette Winterson’s Keynote address on the Friday, as well as Maxine Beneba Clarke, Robert Hoge, and drifting into some other great sessions and conversations.
I’ll be teaching a workshop on my pet subject, Nature Writing, on Thursday 31 July. You can book in here .
I’m also participating in the following panels:
Books that Shaped Me, with ML Stedman, Lisa Gorton and Claire Scobie. 10.15-11.00am, Sat 2 August.
A Wide Brown Land: Writing Australia, with Tony Birch, Alex Miller and Ashley Hay. 11.30-12.30am, Sun 3 August.
In Conversation with Lisa Walker and Jessie Cole. 3.45-4.30pm, Sun, 3 August.
I’ll be signing copies of Mr Wigg and Nest (hot off the press) after each session.
You can access the full BBWF program here

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Nature Writing Retreat: Far South Coast

April 16th, 2014 by inga

The ClydeI’m teaching at a 5-day nature writing retreat, run through Olvar Wood, in late April 2015.

We’ll be ‘glamping’ at The Escape, at Shallow Crosssing, near Bateman’s Bay, on the south coast of NSW.  It’s a beautiful, wild setting: river frontage, amid a forest of spotted gums and cycads.

There’ll be daily workshops, one-on-one feedback on a piece of writing submitted beforehand, a nature walk, plenty of writing time – and great food! There’s also a full day workshop open to non-residential writers.

You can find more information here: The Great Escape




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SWF: 19-20 May

April 14th, 2014 by inga

I’m participating in a few panels and teaching a workshop at the  2014 Sydney Writers Festival from 19-25 May. I’m also excited about seeing Melissa Lucashenko interview Alice Walker (Yes, Alice Walker!); Sarah Blasko & Josh Pike performing; and Emma Donoghue’s closing address.

You can view the whole program here:

Or the details of my sessions can be found here:

Forest for the Trees: Writers & Publishing in 2014

Inspired by Nature

Inga Simpson: Setting and Description

Simple Living

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Maleny’s Celebration of Books

October 26th, 2013 by inga

Don’t miss Maleny’s Celebration of Books this weekend – now in it’s second year.

There’s a great program, including Steven Lang’s in conversation w Christos Tsiolkas on Monday night. He’ll be talking about his new novel, Barracuda, among other things.

I’m the support act, doing a quick chat and a reading from Mr Wigg – and signing books afterwards. As will Christos! Tickets ($15) include free nibbles and cheap drinks from the bar.

More info on the Outspoken website.

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Consolations of the Forest

October 9th, 2013 by inga

ConsolationsI’ve had a bit of a natter about cabins in the woods, solitude and rewilding  – around two lovely books: Sylvain Tesson’s Consolations of the Forest and George Monbiot’s Feral.

‘Some people can dine exclusively by feasting their eyes on a landscape,’ Tesson writes. I am one of those people. Though I do my feasting through books as much as in the real world, perhaps more. I have something of a passion for nature writing …. more here:

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Watermark Literary Muster 18-20 October

October 4th, 2013 by inga

If anyone can get along to the Watermark Literary Muster at lovely Port Macquarie later this month, it’s a great festival celebrating Australian nature writing. This year’s theme is The Nature of Place and Childhood, and guests include Bruce Pascoe, Tony Woodford, Mark Tredinnick and Tony Taylor.

I’ll be reading from my essay ‘Triangulation’ – about my childhood of ironbark and stone – on the Friday, and am on a panel with Tony Taylor and Pat White, talking about our sense of wonder in relation to the natural world, on the Saturday.

I’m fiddling about trying to chose which bits of the essay to read at the moment, so an extract below ….

Ironbarks are my heartwood. They cling to the hilltops and paddock edges in the dry land of my childhood, in Central West New South Wales. Much of my family’s property is flat or gently rolling: wheat, cattle and sheep country. Most winters, the paddocks still run soft and green. Ghosts of big old yellowbox linger in the paddocks, dropping limbs.

The countryside was once covered with dense scrub and tall trees. By the 1890s, tree cover had receded to the hills, a part of the property we have always called ‘Up the Back’. It is stony and steep, which makes for poor farming, but thick with ironbarks, cyprus pine, wildflowers and wildlife. It was to these hills I was drawn as a child.

From twelve or thirteen, I camped out alone with the rocks, trees and stars. I would carry in everything I needed – at first on foot and, later, on my motorbike. To reach my campsite, I had to cross the main road and the neighbour’s paddocks, negotiating three difficult gates. The final leg was a tough climb over logs and rocks.

There was a flattish site for a tent and a large stone fireplace, overlooking crop and grazing land; straight boundary fences and lanes transecting the curves of tree-lined creekbeds and ridgelines. After sundown, my ironbark sentinels faded into the dark. The sky was bright and vast, sounds carried from far off, and I could just make out the glow of the next town.

 By day I wandered, collecting itchy seedpod boats from beneath kurrajongs to sail on the dam, interrupting mistletoe-infected trees admiring their own reflections. Or sketching the delicate bluebells that appeared, as if from nowhere, in spring and summer. Below my campsite, on the cool side of the hill, there were a handful of boulders. They lay as if scattered by a giant. No matter how carefully I climbed down, the black wallabies thumped away at the first snap of a twig or scrape of my boot, leaving me to explore the ferns and mosses and orchids: a secret world of green.

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BWF 4 – 8 September

August 22nd, 2013 by inga

I love the Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF); it’s my favourite time of year. Brisbane usually turns on perfect spring weather, and a bunch of great writers are in town. It’s a time for strolling, listening, and thinking — refreshing your passion for writing and reading.

I always enjoy gazing at the quandongs that surround the State Library, growing taller every year. Their bright red leaves among the green. There’s time for lunch or a coffee out on the lawns, a chance to catch up with friends.

This year, I’m heading ‘Into the Woods’ with Anna Krien and Damon Young to talk about the role of the natural world in activism, philosophy and identity. Saturday, 7th Sept @ 2.30  :

I’m also looking forward to seeing Ruth Ozeki, Phillipp Meyer, and local, Robert Hoge talk about his great new memoir, Ugly (Hachette).

See you there!


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About notes from olvar wood

Notes from Olvar Wood is the title of a work-in-progress, my acount of living among trees in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This blog features some of my observations of the Wood's non-human inhabitants, the too often forgotten genre of nature writing, and occasional reviews and publishing news.