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Q&A with festival president Lyndon Riggall

Updated: Feb 21

You may have heard by now that the Tamar Valley Writers Festival has two new faces in the roles of co-presidents to carry the vibrant organisation into the future. Georgie Todman and Lyndon Riggall are full of energy and passion for words: written, spoken, performed or any other way that sees people interacting with and enjoying this medium that ultimately promotes expression and empathy. We thought you might like to get to know them a little better. Last week, Georgie gave us some insight into her world and workings. Today, we bring you Lyndon Riggall. Enjoy.

What's your day job?

Like Georgie, I am an English teacher at Launceston College, but I am lucky enough to also have a role promoting books at our school library this year. I can’t imagine what a younger version of me would think about where I have found myself. I wish I could just grab myself at thirteen and say, “It’s okay. You’re going to get to live in the world of books all day, every day.”

Your earliest memory?

Being a kindergarten student, delighting in those half-days of chaos at primary school. I was absolutely obsessed with two-minute noodles, and while the microwave was running for its allotted time I would charge around the house in enormous excited loops, knowing that I could do about four laps before the timer ticked down. If I was a dog you’d call it the zoomies.

How do you unwind?

I’m trying really hard at the moment not to use my phone as a soothing device at night. It’s so powerful, and always so available, so it can be challenging not to reach for it as my first option, but I find it’s better if I don’t. Settling down at night, I’ll get the best night’s sleep after a nice cup of tea and an hour reading before I drift away. After a long work day, I’m also rapidly discovering that a good run is like a whole-body reset. If I can just con myself into getting through the first five minutes, I know I’ll feel better for it.

What's something quirky about you?

I drive an electric car! Last year I bought myself a Nissan Leaf and I absolutely love it. It is such an unusual thing to come home and “plug in” my car to charge (yes, in a regular power-point!), but I’m certainly enjoying not having to go to the petrol station on the way home. It barely whispers on the road and it feels like the future. I’ve always loved driving, but this is definitely the kind of driving for me!

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Jennifer Down’s Bodies of Light (Text, 2021), the winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin Award. So far it’s an extremely powerful exploration of the foster care system and one woman’s life and experiences growing up. The further I get into it the more nervous I am about where it might be going, but it is without a doubt an exceptional novel and I am just soaking it up.

Finish this sentence, "If I could meet one person I would choose..."

Terry Pratchett. I recently finished his official biography A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins (Doubleday, 2022), and it will always be one of my biggest regrets that I never had the chance to meet him and experience his wit and wisdom first-hand. One of my prize possessions is an illustration of the Discworld’s orangutan librarian that he has signed. Sadly, that will have to do.

Finish this sentence too, "My vision for the future of the TVWF includes..."

An expansion of the reading community. We have an amazing army of stalwart festival-goers who are smart, generous and passionate about the written word, but I can’t help but feel that our mission now is to try and grow this group even more. Those of us who are readers know what everyone else is missing out on. I would love to see our literary community continue to grow with new eyes and fresh voices.


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