Jimmy Barnes headlines Sydney Writers Festival program in Parramatta

The write stuff: Jimmy Barnes will discuss his memoirs as part of the festival - and he hasn’t ruled out a song or two on the night.

The write stuff: Jimmy Barnes will discuss his memoirs as part of the festival - and he hasn’t ruled out a song or two on the night.

Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes is part of the Parramatta line-up when the Sydney Writers’ Festival starts this month.

It will also turn over a new leaf. It has expanded its Parramatta itinerary, including the new All Day Ya, a day dedicated to exploring writers and readers of young adult fiction of all genres. The program has doubled in size with a new dedicated precinct in Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre on May 27.

There will also be local events as part of the adult program. ABC presenter Richard Glover will do a Q and A with Barnesy, who will talk about his 2016 memoir Working Class Boy at Riverside Theatres on May 26.

The book is about Barnes' childhood growing up in Glasgow and Adelaide, his traumatic upbringing and dream to escape the suburbs by joining a band. It will be Barnes’ only festival appearance.

"This is my first book, so I'm happy of how well it's been received," he told the Sun. “My publisher wanted me to come to the festival to talk about how I approached it. So I’ll be talking to Richard about the book and a lot of stuff that’s in it.”

It took Barnes 18 months to write his memoir, which was confronting.

"I had to process a lot of things,” he said. "There’s stuff in there that's been brewing for 50 years and was slowing killing me.  A lot of stuff were horrible memories I have run away from and come back to deal with. My childhood was very painful. Living with poverty and abuse wasn’t easy and my brain tried to do its best to wipe it out. Writing about it lifted a big weight off my shoulders.”

The book debuted at number one on the Australian bestsellers list and remained in the top 10 for a number of weeks.

“Part of me wasn't surprised as I knew a lot of people were interested about stories not known about my childhood,” he said. "It talks about heavy stuff, but there are also a few laughs and stories that people don't know about me."

It has also brought out the wordsmith in Barnes.

"I'm two thirds though the draft of my second book, which starts off from when Cold Chisel begun,” he said. “I also have some ideas for a few kids' books."

Barnes had this advice for budding authors: "Write as often as you can," he said.

“When you start writing everyday, things will come. Don't edit, just write and get it all out."

  • In Conversation with Jimmy Barnes is on May 26, 7.30pm at Riverside Theatre. Tickets are $20 adults. Details: swf.org.au.
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