Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic) has discovered a creative new application for Twitter: revenge, After a less-than-glowing review of her new book, she tweeted critic Roberta Silman’s phone number and email address, urging fans to communicate their displeasure with ‘snarky critics’. Fortunately, Hoffman got the number wrong, and Silman enjoyed her weekend away uninterrupted. Neither was her inbox inundated with complaints. Hoffman has apologised, her reputation in tatters. Here’s a good article summarising the spat, with links to sites that still have some of the original tweets (Hoffman’s Twitter account is no more). It certainly gives pause to consider the issues this has raised in terms of an author’s online presence.


The Queensland literary scene is on fire this year, with ten (and counting) debut authors launching their books across a range off genres. One of the reasons for this surge in publications has been the mentoring and fostering of new writers by established authors, and a prime mover in establishing this supportive literary community has been author Nick Earls. Today we talk with Nick , fresh from his rocking book launch at the Powerhouse last night, about Byron Bay Writers Festival.

picture of author nick earls

Sp: Have you attended/appeared at BBWF before – if so, what is your favourite BBWF moment?

NE: Yes. The time I was on a panel with a major TV star who is now also a writer, and he appeared to be hungover after the night before but turned out to be still drunk. The panel was unchairable, but compelling. I’d always heard about the panels at previous festivals where someone had gone feral. Finally I was part of it.

Sp: What is it you most value or look forward to about BBWF 09?

NE: The environment is hard to beat. The audience members behave like they love to be there. And there’s a beach to run on.

Sp: Did attending writers festivals help develop your writing craft/career when you were a developing/emerging writer?

NE: Yes, I quite often learned something, and not always from the big-name novelists. Once I heard Wendy Harmer (back when she was a comedian and hadn’t written books) talk about writing comedy, and about when to be general and when to be specific, and how differently they worked. Sometimes you should say biscuit, sometimes it just has to be Tim Tam. She’s right, and what she said still has a bearing on my writing. 

Sp: What are your Top Tips for making the most of Byron Bay Writers Festival?

NE: For authors: eat and drink anything free that comes your way. Okay, eat everything, but maybe don’t drink everything. Do try to deliver when it’s your turn to speak.

For audience members: make the most of the laid-back atmosphere. If you see a writer you want to talk to, go up and talk to them. 

Sp: Can you please select a topic from your BBWF session/s, and briefly share your thoughts on it?

NE: ‘Meet Nick Earls’ – surely that topic’s irresistible. I hear sometimes he throws cash into the audience. (Okay, maybe not …)

SP: Please tell us about your current book/project.

NE: This year’s story, The True Story of Butterfish, exists as both a novel and a play. The central character, Curtis Holland, is 35 and after his band breaks up he moves back to Brisbane to reconnect with his brother and work out what’s next in his life. I realised he wanted a small world and that the best way to tell the story was with as few characters as possible. I ended up with six and, as I got to know them, they felt like a more natural fit as a play cast than any of my four novels that have been adapted for theatre. So I wrote the story as a play as well as a novel, and I alternated drafts. The novel’s out now, the play is on at the Powerhouse in Brisbane in Oct.

You can follow Nick on Twitter at He’s as hilarious as he is generous.


Also at Nick’s book launch last night was author John Birmingham, who took a break from his Spartan writing regime to enjoy the festivities. John will be joining us at AWMonline next Tuesday night to lead us on to great word counts at the Writing Race: log in around 7.45pm AEST for an hour’s dedicated writing time from 8-9pm. If John’s tweets are anything to go by, the man is a (fabulous) writing machine. Can’t wait!

Have a lovely weekend, folks, and happy writing.

3 Responses to “Hoffmonsters and Butterfish …”

  1. parlance,

    I’m wondering if this is the same Alice Hoffman who gave a bad review to a book by Richard Ford, causing Richard Ford’s wife to shoot a copy of the review.

    He talks about it at

    On re-reading the interview with him, I’m not sure whether he shot the book or his wife did.

  2. Meg,

    Hey there – thanks, what a great link! Speakeasy readers, do a Control+f search on ‘hoffman’ to see the relevant part of the artice – it’s a fair way down the page, but totally worth the hunt – it’s hilarious! Ironic, much?

    Parlance looks like a great blog for wordlovers. Care to tell us a bit about yourself and your blog?


  3. Pimp my books … — Speakeasy,

    […] note, remember all the hoohah about the Hoffmonster? Check out the comments under that Speakeasy post for an astounding follow-up by a Speakeasy reader – it packs a pistol full of […]

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