In primary school, Richard Glover took it upon himself to produce an independent news publication at his posh Canberra private school.
He wrote the content, printed the copies and sold them to his fellow students for 1c a copy.
This industriousness was not appreciated by the school principal.
“I was summoned to his office. He was not happy that I hadn’t sought permission,” he says.
“I had to buy back every copy, and then he burned them in front of me.”
Even as he recounts this harrowing tale, there’s a hint of wryness in his voice – in his line of work, you have to see the humour in life.
He went on to produce and work on numerous school publications throughout his early education, university theses, the humour columns for which he is perhaps best known and, of course, several books.
His latest novel, Love, Clancy, is written in the first person. That is to say, in the voice of his beloved and highly intelligent Kelpie.
Described by journalist, broadcaster and author Julia Baird as “unnervingly accurate”, inhabiting the mind of his good boy was not a massive stretch of the imagination.
“I have been mining my own life this way for a long time … a humour columnist’s job is to write to the common experiences in their lives that chime with other people,” he says.
“I’ve written a lot about daily domestic life – bringing up children, then grandchildren, so it wasn’t a stretch to write about the other household character.
“A lot of dog-based humour can be, I think, demeaning towards dogs – they don’t just go around sniffing bottoms all days. Clancy is smart. He writes in quite florid and elegant sentences. He uses a lot of clauses and is sometimes quite pompous.”
Another of Richard’s books, Flesh Wounds, is ostensibly a retelling of the “travails and disasters” of his family life, much of which is set against the backdrop of Canberra – the place to which he will soon return as part of the Canberra Writers Festival.
“I believe writing does change the world but it doesn’t have to,” he says.
“Sometimes, the power of writing is in the way it reveals the beauty, the absurdity, the glory of life. Or, simply, the value of a good dog.”
After COVID stymied it for two years, the Canberra Writers Festival is back with a superb lineup of literary talent guiding us through a curated series of events at Canberra’s great institutions.
Here to feed the human love of words, ideas and debate, the world-class literary event will offer a diverse and dynamic range of international, national and local literary talent across more than 60 live events.
The event is bookended by an opening night dinner featuring Jane and Jimmy Barnes and a closing night event, ‘Light Bulb Moment’, wherein a stellar lineup of speakers divulge their epiphanies. There will be a series of intimate literary lunches, children’s events, panels and debates covering everything from climate change to discussions on the meaning of life, death and everything in between.
One panel will probe the rise of global right-wing extremism. In another event, best-selling author Trent Dalton will reveal what happened after he took to a Brisbane CBD street corner armed only with a typewriter to solicit love stories from strangers. In another, parents with a disability will share touching and eye-opening perspectives on child-rearing.
Member of the Stolen Generation Aunty Di O’Brien will talk to her biographer, Sue Williams, about how her fighting spirit has never been extinguished, and in a Festival exclusive, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Williams will tell the incredible story of Anna Sorokin, the subject of Netflix’s Inventing Anna.
Festival director Paul Donohoe said in a program that reads as one big highlight, it’s impossible to pick favourites.
He said with 160 authors, moderators and panellists, and wide-ranging topics of discussion, it’s not only for budding authors and fans of the literary lineup but an invitation for all members of the human race.
“We wish to champion open conversation, stimulate discussion, reflect on our past and imagine the future – because so much can come out of reading and learning and sharing,” he says.
Paul said the Festival started with about 3500 attendees and, at its height, welcomed more than 11,000.
“I get the sense there’s a great appetite for it again this year,” he said.
“I know the authors are ready to go.”
The 2022 Canberra Writers Festival will be staged from Wednesday, 10 August to Sunday, 14 August. To book tickets, view the program or for more information, visit the website.