Maitland Indie Festival

I’ve just come back from the opening weekend of the Maitland Indie Festival, which was amazing.

On Friday night, our documentary ‘Sisters for Sale’ screened as the opening night event at the wonderfully atmospheric Studio Amsterdam, and was followed by a fantastic Q&A session.

The next morning Richard James and I were part of a ‘Writing for the Big Screen’ panel chaired by Jamie Lewis, which was fascinating because the experiences Richard and I have had with screenwriting are polar opposites.

The launch of my new book, ‘The Man’s Machine’, took place that afternoon. Although it’s the third ‘Sisters for Sale’ book, thanks to the pandemic it’s the first we’ve actually had a launch event for!

Book launch

The launch took the form of a conversation with the amazing Debbie Lee from Ingram, who publishes our books. Debbie loves the story and her enthusiasm really came across, which was lovely. The launch concluded with my first-ever live reading (not from the book we were actually launching, funnily enough, but from the first ‘Sisters for Sale’ book!). There’s a possibility that Debbie and I will be doing a similar event as part of Byron Writer’s Festival in early August – stay tuned!

My primary school librarian, Merrilyn Bajelis, was largely responsible for my love of books. Now in her 80s, Merrilyn and I reconnected last year, and she was involved in revising ‘The Man’s Machine’ before publication – but she’d never seen a physical copy. Merrilyn attended the book launch and there was one very special moment (which unfortunately wasn’t captured on video!) when the audience gave her a round of applause and I surprised Merrilyn with the news that I’d dedicated the book to her.

Festivals are always a bit of a whirlwind – there are always so many smiles and hugs and handshakes and super supportive people saying wonderful things and I always come away with the feeling that I haven’t really given anyone the attention they deserve. If you came along on the weekend, thank you so much for being part of it all, and sorry if we didn’t get to chat properly!

As someone whose work life consists almost entirely of sitting at a computer, working on a project that never has enough money and seems a little futile at times, it’s amazing to get out and connect with people, to see their genuine excitement for my work and remind myself that this story is reaching and affecting people in a very real and meaningful way.

It was a wonderful weekend, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible – including Graham Davidson, Gillian Swain, Keighley Bradford, Michael and his fantastic team of volunteers, Frank and Patricia at Studio Amsterdam, and my family who came out in support.

Of course, I forgot to get photos of pretty much everything. Fortunately the festival crew recorded videos of the book launch and Q&A session, which I’ll be resharing on our Facebook page over the coming days, so follow us here if you aren’t already.

‘The Man’s Machine’ now available!

‘The Man’s Machine’ describes the search for my kidnapped friends May and Pang in China, and their heartbreaking dilemma between their baby girls and their own freedom. While it is part of a series, it does also stand alone and can be read independently of the first and second books.

I haven’t yet organised ebooks for ‘The Man’s Machine’, but the paperback is now available to order in Australia via our website.

The paperback should also now be available internationally via all major online booksellers – and if it isn’t yet, it will be very soon (sometimes it can take a week or two for new titles to appear on their systems!).

“I’m completely enthralled. All the pathos, intrigue and drama of a high-end suspense thriller, only it’s absolutely and terrifyingly true.” – Debbie Lee, Ingram publishing

“The ‘Sisters for Sale’ books are easy to read and difficult to put down, but the messages are profound. Through his remarkable storytelling Ben shines a light into some of the darkest parts of today’s world. There is suspense, intrigue, raw honesty, friendship and hope within these pages. Definitely a must-read book – the best one yet!” – Janie Echt

Thanks for being part of the journey, 

– Ben 

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