Meet two local writers presenting this month at the 'Writers, Readers & Poets' weekend in Beechworth, Friday 14th to Sunday 16th February 2014. WRAP encourages the art of writing and promotes wider reading, intent listening, fresh thinking and joyful communicating.

Local Flavour - What inspires you most about this region? What do you love most about living and working here?

Beverley Lello: I moved to North-east Victoria in 1986 after living most of my life in Melbourne. We were drawn to this area as a family, and specifically Yackandandah, because we wanted to enjoy the benefits of living in a small country town and to be close to some of the activities we enjoy: camping, bushwalking, cross-country skiing and, more recently, cycling.

Each season and time of the day brings a different colour spectrum to the view from our house on the hill. We have a native garden which attracts a variety of bird life, kangaroos and wallabies. I have really enjoyed my involvement with the Yackandandah Theatre Company and Arts Yackandandah and am impressed by the way a small town can offer such easy involvement in all aspects of the arts.

Kate Rotherham: Soaking in our local waterhole. Running along quiet country lanes. Throwing armfuls of crispy autumn leaves. Knowing there's snow on the mountains.

I'm very drawn to the strong sense of community here, particularly having grown up in the city. I am constantly struck by the shared adversities and resilience of country life. My stories try to convey the connectedness rural people have to each other and to the natural landscape.

I love the sense of space and the early morning light. I love the fact that my children don't understand the concept of a traffic jam. I love my wonderfully energetic and creative community and my fantastic friends. And the icing on the cake is I write in a timber loft where all I can hear is bird noises.

A Murray Experience - How did you come to be a writer practicing in the Murray area?

Beverley Lello: I had always nurtured an ambition to be a published author. I began writing more seriously when I retired and the Albury City Short Story Competition in 2011 was one of my first successes. I won this again in 2012 so the Write around the Murray Festival has been significant in giving me the confidence to keep on writing.

Other successes, such as winning the Country Style Short Story Competition in 2012, and being published in their magazine, have also been a source of encouragement. This competition had over 1000 entries and the prize was $5000 and a trip to Sydney to receive the award. (The attached photo is taken at the High Tea Award Presentation at Gunners' Barracks in Sydney).

The Yackandandah Theatre Company was an inspiration because, as the production manager, I was having difficulty finding plays suitable for our local actors so I began to write my own. Some of these plays have now been performed by other amateur theatre companies in regional Victoria, Melbourne and Canberra.

Kate Rotherham
Kate Rotherham: I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was six. I then spent 30 years distracting myself from this idea before actually sitting down at the desk and getting started. By that time I was living here and immersed in the endless joy and extreme sleep-deprivation only little people can bring. Somehow, the time was right. In a classic case of beginner's luck the first story I wrote won the Albury City short story competition in 2008 and I have been tapping away ever since.

The Art Life - What are you working on at the moment? What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Beverley Lello: Recently, I have been concentrating more on longer short stories. I am currently writing a story about loss and finding new love, exploring this through characters in the older age group.

I like writing about relationships, particularly within families. One story might deal with the relationship between two sisters, the next, the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. I do often find myself writing about how people deal with losing someone or something they love. I have also tried to explore issues I feel strongly about such as our treatment of refugees and our need to protect and care for the environment.

My husband, Chris, and I travel a lot. We've been to the Antarctic Peninsular on a yacht, trekked extensively in Nepal, Pakistan and South America, and, more recently, done extended cycling trips in Italy, France and Spain. Such faraway places are now starting to find their way into my writing.

Kate Rotherham: I'm very excited to be working as the Writer in Residence at Frayne College this year. I'm also really looking forward to running a memoir writing workshop as part of the WRAP Festival in Beechworth, as well as some workshops in Baranduda during March. Generally, I'm hoping to write more short stories and less shopping lists this year.

Motherhood, family and rural life tend to sneak into my stories one way or another. I take that much-quoted writing advice 'write what you know' pretty seriously!
What is your dream project?

Beverley Lello: I am hoping to have a collection of my short stories published. I have an agent who is helping me pursue this dream but I am aware that short story collections are not popular with publishers. I'll continue to write stories and plays, enter competitions and submit them to journals. I have no plans for a novel at this stage; it's such a huge time commitment.

It's a wonderful opportunity to be involved in an event such as WRAP. I still consider myself an emerging writer but I have learnt a great deal in the last few years about the process of creating a work of fiction and believe I have considerable advice to pass on and help set others on the path to writing success.

Kate Rotherham: Anything really, as long as it comes with funding, a quiet space and a cup of tea.

PDFWRAP-program-2014.pdf (743 KB)