Publisher, writer, vegan-myth destroyer and Emerging Writers’ Festival director Lisa Dempster will be doing the honours of officially launching our fifth issue tomorrow. The EWF have been genuinely supportive of Death of a Scenester, and many other new publications and writers, which is a real testament to the great people that run this festival. We’re very pleased to have her with us on Saturday.
2012 is your final year as EWF director. Albeit it having been a group effort, what was your proudest achievement with EWF?
The festival has doubled in size since I came onboard, which is a major source of pride for me, but more importantly I think the EWF has a really solid sense of community and camaraderie which I have been pleased to contribute to. Event-wise, the travel-themed Slide Night in 2011 was my absolute best festival moment ever – it featured some of my favourite writers telling brilliant travel stories, it was chilled out and entertaining and had an all-round good vibe. Also, boogying on down with the festival crew at our closing night party is always the best feeling!
Can you tell us about a raging author success story as a result of participating in EWF?
It’s the little stories I love the most, actually. Seeing someone come along to the festival and leave with the confidence to call themselves a writer, for example – I love that. Or finding out that a writer met their agent at the festival. Or seeing a friendship form at one of our parties. What we do really makes a difference to writers, and watching people reach milestones in their careers has been one of the most satisfying parts of my job.
Where to from here?
In July I’m going to Bali for four months on an Asialink fellowship, to work with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. As you can imagine, I’m really excited about that! (And yes, I’m going to eat all the tempeh!) In late 2012 I’ll come back to Australia and start hunting for my next challenge. I want to stay in festivals because I love artistic programming and I love the energy and dynamism of that kind of environment. I guess I just love the buzz you get from running a fantastic event!
What do you think is the most important thing that EWF should maintain, moving forward?
The festival should always retain it’s inclusive vibe and continue to deliver the ‘writers talking to writers about writing’ programming that we do so well. Plus the networking (and partying!) events will continue to expand. The fest is a really fabulous opportunity for writers to come together, and those casual conversations and connections can be so important in developing your career as a writer (not to mention it’s great to form a peer support network!).
You’ve been a vegan purveyor for awhile now—were you ever significantly bothered by the stereotypical non-vegan views veganism? Do you think it is important to consider these perceptions in some way?
Smashing vegan stereotypes is one of my favourite things to do!! There is so much ridiculous stereotyping of vegans out there – that we’re sick, weak, frail, super-healthy, super-un-healthy, radical, militant, angry or just plain weird… it used to bother me, but these days I just laugh it off. I like to think I’m a good ambassador for veganism – I’m energetic, focussed, fit, cheerful and generally pretty damn normal, and I just happen to be vegan. I understand how these perceptions come about, but really, in 2012 people are vegan for so many different reasons and there is so much good veggie food out there that the old stereotypes are just really dated.
You can follow Lisa’s blog at www.lisadempster.com.au