11155_29039-width=920&height=410&scale_mode=c_HM_EG_HERO_998_450The chance to hear Hilary Mantel and Elizabeth Gilbert speak at Perth Concert Hall were two of the hottest tickets at the Perth Writers Festival this year. I was entertained, enthralled and inspired by both, and their words will remain with me for some time. Here are a few of my favourite soundbites from each of them.


On Margaret Thatcher: ‘I admire her as one must admire any woman pioneer, but I don’t think she solved the problem of how to be a woman in a man’s world.’

On writing: ‘I’m always looking in my fiction for the moment of transformation – the moment a life or society changes. These are the questions that drive my fiction.’

Hilary’s advice to the BBC director of Wolf Hall: ‘Remember that these people [characters] don’t know they are in history.’

On fiction writing: ‘A novelist has no business with neutrality.’

On her audience: ‘All the time I am asking my reader where their prejudices come from; where their information comes from.’

On research: ‘I put a great deal of effort into research but there is inevitably that marshy ground of interpretation – and I’m in that marshy ground.’

On Thomas More: ‘The news is Thomas More was not a 1960s liberal… he was a man of his time, and heresy hunting was a fact of life. More was a wonderful man, but he just happened to have this foible: he liked burning people…. The idea that he was a martyr of freedom would have him spinning in his grave.’



There is no creativity without courage.’

‘Fear is boring. It’s a song with only one word – and that word is stop. What it stops most of all is creativity.’

‘In order to begin to have that conversation with fear you have to have a fierce sense of personal entitlement – it’s not possible to do creative work without it.’

‘It’s about being aware that you as a citizen of this universe have the right to participate in the creation of culture.’

‘The arrogance of belonging is the only voice that can stand up to the darkest voice of fear.’

‘If it’s good enough, it’s good enough. If you can finish you’re already so far ahead.’

‘Having a creative mind is like having a border collie – if you don’t give it a job to do it will find a job to do, and you might not like it.’

 ‘Creativity can be done with lightness and it can be let go, so you can move on to the next thing, and the next thing…’


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