Sharing words of wisdom

Eliza Henry-Jones with her collection of published books. 207777 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Romy Stephens

The inaugural Yarra Valley Writers Festival will showcase a range of talent next month.

While the event couldn’t take place in traditional format, the virtual festival will see leading authors present from across the country, discussing topics such as climate, environment, family and writing.

Among that list of talent is local author and PhD candidate Eliza Henry-Jones.

Eliza lives on a quintessential farm in Silvan where she mainly writes young adult fiction while studying.

“I used to work in the drug and alcohol sector. I have qualification in psychology and grief, loss counselling,” she said.

“My PhD is examining the relationship between trauma and landscape and how human trauma finds form in the landscape.

“I did an honours year in creative writing literature and examining relations between bushfire trauma and fiction.”

Eliza has also written numerous novels, all of which revolve around the themes of grief and trauma.

Her debut novel, In the Quiet, is a moving and uplifting piece about love, grief and the heartache of letting go.

In 2017, she published Ache which tells the story of a girl who’s life was ripped apart after being impacted by a bushfire.

Eliza said her interest in bushfires, particularly, came from having her family live in fire-prone regions.

“My family have always lived in rural areas and I remember watching the fires in ‘97 being very close to my family’s house,” she said.

“Even though I lived in the suburbs I was always very mindful of bushfires.”

Eliza said she is looking forward to discussing her experience with writing at the upcoming festival, particularly considering it is based in her home region.

“I was really chuffed when I was invited to participate,” she said.

“I’m so impressed with that team. This is the first festival and they’ve just risen so gracefully to the challenges faced.

“It’s a lovely way to showcase the region and the amount of creativity we have out here, there’s a large number of very talented people.”

She said despite being disappointed the event can’t take place in person, it is still very important the show goes on.

“There’s such beauty and magic in storytelling and think we need that now more than ever.”

To find out more about the Yarra Valley Writers Festival and view the full program, visit www.yarravalleywritersfestival.com.

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