My Week: Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2014

Sorry for the lack of posts last week, folks.

I intended to post daily, but got side-tracked by an amazing week of literary, culinary and cultural events at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. If you love food, books and travel, mark this four-day carnival in the diary for next year. I'll be heading off for sure!

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is a truly international cross-cultural line-up. I must confess there are serious gaps in my reading and festivals like Ubud allow me to examine my reading for the year. I managed to go to sessions, and then have follow-up conversations with Icelandic novelist Sjorn, Irish experimental writer Eimear McBride and chased Akhil Sharma for his reading list. I also chatted to debut sensation Zia Haider Rahman about how a background in mathematics (problem solving)  makes for a great background as a novelist. 

I adopted a Bali-time philosophy, but I have lots of exciting interviews and pieces to roll out over the next few weeks. 

Planning my week!

Planning my week!

Press call before the festival kicks off (L-R) Azyumardi Azra, Elizabeth Pisani, Robyn Davidson, Amitav Ghosh, Janet De Neefe (Festival Director)  Ketut Suardana (Chairman). Image Credit : Anggara Mahendra. Press Call at Casa Luna

Press call before the festival kicks off (L-R) Azyumardi Azra, Elizabeth Pisani, Robyn Davidson, Amitav Ghosh, Janet De Neefe (Festival Director)  Ketut Suardana (Chairman). Image Credit : Anggara Mahendra. Press Call at Casa Luna

On the night I arrived, I immediately headed off to the annual Media and Writers Dinner. It's a great chance for an informal catch-up and to swap schedules and interviews before the madness begins. All over a local lemongrass cocktail or ... er two! Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

On the night I arrived, I immediately headed off to the annual Media and Writers Dinner. It's a great chance for an informal catch-up and to swap schedules and interviews before the madness begins. All over a local lemongrass cocktail or ... er two! Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

Me (at the back) enjoying a meal with freinds and family of Janet De Neefe, Festival Director. 

Me (at the back) enjoying a meal with freinds and family of Janet De Neefe, Festival Director. 

Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Gala Opening at Puri Ubud

Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Gala Opening at Puri Ubud

Image Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

Image Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

Image Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

Image Credit: Vifick. Media and Writers Dinner. Ayung Resort.

Irish experimental writer and 2013 Goldsmith novel award winner Eimeir McBride. Image Credit: Vifick. Wide Awake Language. Indus

Irish experimental writer and 2013 Goldsmith novel award winner Eimeir McBride. Image Credit: Vifick. Wide Awake Language. Indus

The crowds flock to hear about imaginative characters and plots. Icelandic novelist Sjorn is in the foreground. Image Credit: Vifick. Wide Awake Language. Indus

The crowds flock to hear about imaginative characters and plots. Icelandic novelist Sjorn is in the foreground. Image Credit: Vifick. Wide Awake Language. Indus

ABC Radio National Books & Arts Daily host, the delightful Michael Cathcart, speaks with novelist Akhil Sharma. Credit: Vifick. Family Life. Indus

ABC Radio National Books & Arts Daily host, the delightful Michael Cathcart, speaks with novelist Akhil Sharma. Credit: Vifick. Family Life. Indus

Hottest restaurant in Ubud right now. Bookings full for next 3 months ...Yikes! Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Hottest restaurant in Ubud right now. Bookings full for next 3 months ...Yikes! Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Image Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

India/USA novelist Amitav Ghosh speaks at an intimate dinner. Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

India/USA novelist Amitav Ghosh speaks at an intimate dinner. Credit: Vifick. Guess Who's Coming for Dinner. Locavore.

Aussie expat author Fiona McFarlane , author of 'The Night Guest'. Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Great Greats. Indus

Aussie expat author Fiona McFarlane , author of 'The Night Guest'. Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Great Greats. Indus

Australian writer (front) with Michaela McGuire speaks with NY writer and stylist to the stars Rayya Elias. 

Australian writer (front) with Michaela McGuire speaks with NY writer and stylist to the stars Rayya Elias. 

Scottish Queen of Crime, Val McDermid ('Wire in the Blood') speaks with Rosemary Sayer. She was relaxed, engaged, intelligent and wickedly funny ... as crime writers so often are. Image Credit: Vifick. Cocktails with a Queen of Crime. Il Giardino

Scottish Queen of Crime, Val McDermid ('Wire in the Blood') speaks with Rosemary Sayer. She was relaxed, engaged, intelligent and wickedly funny ... as crime writers so often are. Image Credit: Vifick. Cocktails with a Queen of Crime. Il Giardino

Walking (jalan jalan) through the rice fields of Bali. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Walking (jalan jalan) through the rice fields of Bali. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Follow the leader through the back of Ubud. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Follow the leader through the back of Ubud. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Tour Guide Westie takes us for a walk, Jalan Jalan, through the rice fields, points out the local herbs and tells us how they are used for both cooking and healing. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

Tour Guide Westie takes us for a walk, Jalan Jalan, through the rice fields, points out the local herbs and tells us how they are used for both cooking and healing. Image Credit: Matt Oldfield. Jalan Jalan.

Travel writing legend Colin Thubron gives some insight into his work. Image Credit: Vifick. Ethics, People, Place. Neka Museum

Travel writing legend Colin Thubron gives some insight into his work. Image Credit: Vifick. Ethics, People, Place. Neka Museum

The open-air pavilions let the breeze blow through. Image Credit: Vifick. Ethics, People, Place. Neka Museum

The open-air pavilions let the breeze blow through. Image Credit: Vifick. Ethics, People, Place. Neka Museum

Zia Haider Rahman, author of debut breakout hit 'In the Light of What We Know' poses for a fan. Credit: Aulia Halimatussadiah

Zia Haider Rahman, author of debut breakout hit 'In the Light of What We Know' poses for a fan. Credit: Aulia Halimatussadiah

I took time out to sample the local snacks at Indus. 

I took time out to sample the local snacks at Indus. 

The view from Indus restaurant at lunchtime. 

The view from Indus restaurant at lunchtime. 

The lovely Australian playwright Hannie Rayson. She has a memoir coming out with Text in 2015 so stay tuned ...

The lovely Australian playwright Hannie Rayson. She has a memoir coming out with Text in 2015 so stay tuned ...

A morning of downtime reading by the pool at Svarga Loka resort. 

A morning of downtime reading by the pool at Svarga Loka resort. 

Closing party ... Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.

Closing party ... Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.

Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.

Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.

Rocking out on stage at the end of the festival. I'll be back next year! Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.

Rocking out on stage at the end of the festival. I'll be back next year! Image Credit: Anggara Mahendra. Closing Night Party. Arma Museum.