The committee behind Clunes' massive annual literary event is taking Booktown online during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Clunes Booktown May 2020 event was cancelled when COVID-19 hit, a devastating blow to the town that usually benefits from up to 20,000 visitors on festival weekend.
The regular series of monthly author talks called Clunes Booktown on Sunday has also been unable to go ahead as planned.
Creative Clunes committee deputy chair Ember Parkin said the team had launched an online series instead to provide a platform for authors and continue Clunes' association with books.
"I think COVID has had a pretty devastating impact on all of the arts sector in Australia and globally," she said.
"At Creative Clunes we feel a strong need to still be able to engage with our audiences."
The first online author talk was held last month and this month the digital event will focus on engaging young people in the literary discussion.
Having something specifically focused on young adult fiction is really important to us and we are really keen to support and engage young readers.- Ember Parkin, Creative Clunes
It will feature an online conversation with young adult fiction writers Michael Earp, Nina Kenwood and Nova Weetman, discussing coming out, coming-of-age, connections and stories of family and friends.
Kenwood's debut novel Sounded Better In My Head explores longing, confusion, feeling left out and finding out what really matters.
Weetman, known for her series Choose Your Own Ever After will discuss her latest novel, Sick Bay about a girl struggling with home life changes.
Earp is the editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories, a collection of stories by writers from the LGBTQ+ community, exploring family, friends, lovers and strangers and the connections that form us.
Ms Parkin said the first online event held last month with author Keith Banks discussing his book Guns, Drugs and Lies: My Life as an Undercover Cop was well received by more than 60 participants.
"I think we have a role to play in trying to make sure people still have a reason for coming together, even if it is in an online space, to be able to ensure people have something to do and that authors have spaces to have an audience to get their books out there as well," she said.
"We will definitely be continuing online monthly for the foreseeable future, but hopefully with a return to face to face at some stage too."
The move to online author talks comes after Creative Clunes launched new online initiative Book Clubs Hub, a central hub of knowledge sharing for book clubs across Australia.
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The online hub features a registry of authors and resources for book clubs and a project to conduct Australia's first national survey of book clubs.
"Following the next Booktown on Sunday session it will be great if we can inspire a few young adult book clubs as well," Ms Parkin said.
"Having something specifically focused on young adult fiction is really important to us and we are really keen to support and engage young readers."
Creative Clunes is also working to promote local bookshops and authors online to ensure Clunes continues to be associated as a 'book town'.
The online Booktown on Sunday event Knowing Me & Meeting You with Michael Earp, Nina Kenwood and Nova Weetman will be held on September 13 at 4pm.
For tickets, to make a booking and for more information visit clunesbooktown.com.au.
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