Clunes Booktown Festival is featuring an exciting new Australian voice you need to know about

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Clunes Booktown Festival is featuring an exciting new Australian voice you need to know about

If you’re a fan of bestsellers such as Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and Girl on the Train, Clunes Booktown Festival are featuring an exciting new Australian voice you need to know about – Melbourne-based crime writer Joshua Pomare.

The New Zealand born author had publishers fighting for the rights to his debut novel, psychological thriller Call Me Evie, which has been described as a ‘razor sharp, claustrophobic and unputdownable’ literary thriller.

“I didn’t know that it was a thriller when I was writing it,” Pomare laughs. “You just write the story, and then it’s suddenly out in the world and people are compartmentalising this thing that was just you trying to write. In the end, it turned out to be a thriller, and it was during the editing process that we really teased that out,” he explains, “I mean it was always present and it was always there, but we weren’t sure that’s what it was.”

In the suspenseful Call Me Evie, a teenage girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever. Is the teenager a victim or a villain? Are the supposed horrors that she and her carer are running from best forgotten? These are the questions Pomare explores as he takes on the perspective of seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet.

“It seems to come easier than most people would think,” he says of writing from this perspective. “I’m 30, so I’m not particularly young or particularly old, but I can still access my own memories from that time and I wasn’t so far removed from this digital age. I grew up with cellphones and things like that so I experienced some of that connectedness.

“It wasn’t entirely difficult to tap into the character. The challenge was just making sure I didn’t get it too wrong.”

With his riveting debut novel in tow, Pomare, along with a slew of renowned authors and guest speakers, are gearing up for a weekend in Clunes celebrating books and the great conversations and big ideas that come from them.

For the uninitiated, Clunes is one of the fortunate few towns across the globe – the only one nationwide – that is dubbed a ‘Booktown’; a small, regional, community-focused town with a concentration of booksellers.

Spending time in the amiable, historic town moments between landing a publishing deal, and his exquisite literary chiller stocking the shelves, Pomare was genuinely enticed by the quaint booktown.

“The first time we [Pomare and his wife] visited, we fell in love with it. We just wanted to live there, just from that very first time going down the main street and having a glass of wine with the locals,” he explains. “The main reason that we love it so much is that it’s quiet and we can write and get away from the city. I’ll certainly be here writing book two.”

While Pomare is a local to the humble town, this will be his first time attending the popular two-day festival and will see him feature on a series of panel discussions alongside some of the nation’s favourite authors who have captured our hearts and minds with their new publications.

“This is my first time doing the Booktown thing; it just seems like such a cool little festival. I’m really looking forward to it,” Pomare explains.

“I have a couple of conversations. One I’m really excited about is with Tony Birch, who’s a writer I deeply admire, and that’s presented by Writer’s Victoria Celebrating 30 Years and we’re discussing ‘The State of Writing’. We [Pomare, Birch, Kirstyn McDermott, and Alicia Sometimes] represent four different generations of writers and it will be a lot of fun,” he explains.

It’s the panel discussion on Saturday morning, ‘Writing about Men and Violence in the Contemporary Thriller’ that will see some thought-provoking discussions take place, as the authors deliberate charismatic male characters committing violence against women in a staple element in thrillers, and how this stacks up today in the #MeToo era.

“I’m speaking with Jock Serong and Sarah Bailey. They’re two crime writers I really admire as well and we’re talking about gender violence which is a really important conversation that should be happening right now; on how violence is represented in fiction. Jock and Sarah are both, again, extraordinarily talented writers.”

Alongside these discussions, Pomare will also join a panel discussion ‘New Voices and Smart New Writing’ alongside Robbie Arnott and Sarah Epstein that afternoon.

Delving into a number of other trending topics such as our current political climate, slowing down at home, and modern-day feminism, this year’s Festival promises intriguing tales and talks to open your mind.

Clunes Booktown Festival is on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May at Clunes, Victoria. Tickets are $10 from

Photo by James Howarth