Last on our list of EWF24 introductions for now is Jes Layton! Jes is EWF’s Executive Director and we were so excited to sit down and chat!

Hi Jes! We’re so lucky to have you as one half of our leadership as Executive Director! We’ve obviously had a while to get to know you, but we’ve never introduced you officially – tell us about yourself, Jes! 

Shucks, thanks! I feel lucky being able to do what I do with EWF and the EWF team. So, a little about me outside of my EWF work—I ‘m a writer, illustrator and big ole nerd who loves art making, LEGO, comics, gaming and waking up disgustingly early to head to my local bouldering gym for a climbing sesh and a sneaky hot chocolate. 

Do you have any creative outlets of your own??

Of course! Everything I do is pretty much tied to creativity. I embroider, I weave, I create LEGO, I illustrate, practice stick’n’poke tattooing (on myself, I’m sparing others from the torture lol), I also write, do drag, experiment with hair style/colour, I’m a cosplayer, zine maker and honestly, I’m game to give any creative pursuit a go and see if it sticks (most do to be honest haha). 

What are you most excited about for our first ever Spring festival this year?

Since I’m not directly involved in the EWF creative programming (too busy with all the business spreadsheets and policy documents!). I think I’m just as excited as everyone is (maybe even more so) to see this year’s incredible program from Ruby, Jess and Kanika. What I have seen and heard so far is; sorry to tease, SO GOOD. I’m especially excited for the fact that—even though I am a winter lover— EWF won’t be in winter this year. Spring just offers us so many more opportunities, not just for ~vibes~ but for venues, programming. It’s gonna be awesome.  

EWF is a lit fest, which means we’re obliged to ask what kind of literature catches your attention?

Oh god, I love literature so wholly so completely, it’s really hard to pick. But what occupies my bookshelves and my open tabs the most are probably graphic, young adult, middle grade, fanfiction, and nonfiction work. I’m drawn to work that explores identity, mental health, found family, hybridity, sibling and parental relationships, and works in some mythological or speculative elements.

Finally, what’s been cluttering your bedside table or filling up your watchlist lately? (What are you watching/reading/listening to?)

Admittedly, I haven’t been doing all that much reading lately—simply because all my time is being taken up by writing/illustration and EWF! But I do have an admirable collection of “to” be read books on my bedside, including the latest issues of Overland (253) and Meanjin (83), Roaming by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, Astronomy by Karlie Noon and Krystal De Napoli, The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan, and echidna by Essa May Ranapiri.  

Jes Layton is leading our 2024 festival as Executive Director. Stayed tuned for EWF24 running 5-15 September!