My 3 Tips On Facilitating Author Events – Suzanne Leal

SUZANNE LEAL is the senior judge for the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.  She is also a lawyer experienced in child protection, criminal law and refugee law.  A former legal commentator on ABC Radio, Suzanne is a regular interviewer at Sydney Writers’ Festival and other literary functions.  Her new novel is The Teacher’s Secret (Allen & Unwin)

 Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband and her four children.

You can learn more about Suzanne by visiting her website

Suzanne and I met when we were guests on Better Reading Book Club Live , discussing one of our favourite novels, March by Geraldine Brooks.

Aside from striking an instant rapport, I was awestruck by how Suzanne, despite her demanding job and family life, finds time to facilitate author events, be a senior judge on Premier’s Literary Awards and write a best-selling novel. So I asked her to dispel some of her secrets by sharing with us her top tips on facilitating author events…

My 3 Tips for facilitating events with writers – Suzanne Leal

1. Do your research

When asked to interview a writer at a festival or literary event, do your research by:

  • checking the writer’s website for biographical details;
  • reading as much of the writer’s work as possible, prioritising their most current work (which will generally be the work they are looking to promote);
  • listening to any podcasts of interviews with the writer;
  • reading interviews with the writer;
  • familiarising yourself with reviews of the writer’s work.

2. Gain the writer’s confidence

 Gain the writer’s confidence by:

  • sending an introductory email with a list of suggested areas to cover in the interview;
  • checking if there is anything the writer would rather not discuss;
  • checking whether the writer would like to give a reading and suggesting a passage that would work well with the topics to be considered;
  • arranging for the writer to attend the venue at least 30 minutes before the event. As well as ensuring your guest is on time, this enables you to develop a rapport before you go on stage.

3. Arrange the space

Ensure your event runs smoothly by:

  • arriving at the venue at least 45 minutes before an event is scheduled to start;

  • bringing a watch with you so you can keep an eye on the time during the interview;

  • checking the stage is set up the way you would like it. A coffee table can be used for your notes and to display the writer’s books;

  • making sure there is water on stage for you and your guest.

What did you think? Were the tips useful? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the section below – praise, criticism, suggestions on future topics or guests.

Till then…Happy Reading


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