When Indira Naidoo lost her younger sister to suicide during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the media personality’s connection to nature and writing helped her work through the immense grief.
Frantically written notes, jotted down during her isolation walks in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, turned to paragraphs that eventually became the basis of her memoir, The Space Between The Stars.
The revered Australian author, journalist and television and radio presenter is a guest at this year’s Canberra Writers Festival.
During the four-day event, she will explore the rollercoaster journey of writing the new book and share her experiences in the hope of helping others cope with their loss – whether it’s losing a loved one, a career, a relationship or a dream.
Indira is also looking forward to hearing the stories of ordinary Canberrans.
“The writers’ festival is such a great opportunity to meet people and hear their stories directly,” she said.
“I’m finding that if someone wants to share their story or grief with you, it does help to lighten their load.”
Indira has received “hundreds and hundreds” of messages from people who have read her book, keen to lend their support and share their stories of tragedy, grief, strength and resilience.
“There is a universal connection that people can feel around loss, and I’m really heartened my book is helping people in that way,” she said.
The Space Between The Stars is Indira’s story of love and loss, but also of hope… of seizing the shining washes of joy always waiting for us just around the corner if we let nature show us the way.
Following her sister’s death, Indira began to explore nature’s healing powers during life’s darker chapters, whether nursing a broken heart or an anxious mind.
Death of a family member is shattering at any time. But during the height of lockdown, with family members in different states and Indira bound by her Sydney five-kilometre “iso” bubble, the loss and loneliness was compounded.
Turning to her urban landscape for solace, she was drawn to a wise old fig tree overlooking Sydney Harbour. A connection began to build between the two – one with a fractured heart, the other a centurion offering quiet companionship while asking nothing in return.
As Indira grappled with her heartbreak, an unnoticed universe of infinite beauty revealed itself: pale vanilla clouds pirouetting across the sky, resilient weeds pushing through cracks in the footpath, the magical biodiversity of tiny puddles.
She said The Space Between The Stars was a “heart-rending, at times funny, and uplifting tribute to love and our innate need to connect to the natural world”.
“It’s a celebration of the reassuring cycle of renewal that sustains and nourishes us all.”
Indira will share her messages of hope and healing at the writers’ festival during In Conversation With Caroline Baum on Saturday, 13 August from 4 pm to 5 pm in the cinema at the Kambri Cultural Centre (ANU).
Fans can meet Indira at the book signing event and ask questions during the Q&A session.
Indira said she was also looking forward to the festival’s closing event, Light Bulb Moment, on Sunday, 14 August from 6 pm to 7 pm at the Manning Clark Hall in the Kambri Cultural Centre (ANU). She will be joined on stage be Samuel Johnson, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Norman Swan, Veronica Gorrie, Rick Morton, Dianne O’Brien, Ben Bravery and Jane Caro.
The Canberra Writers Festival from Wednesday, 10 August to Sunday, 14 August will feature a diverse line-up of international, national and local literary talent whose work and words will engage, inform, challenge and inspire at more than 60 live events across the city.
Events will be staged at the National Museum of Australia, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, the Kambri Cultural Centre (ANU), the National Press Club of Australia and 4 National Circuit Barton.
Under the theme Power Politics Passion, the festival aims to scrutinise today’s issues, reflect on the past, contemplate the future and challenge our understanding of all.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line on 13 11 14.