'A storm smashed into the Byron Writers Festival site a night before the opening last week, shredding two marquees and flooding the beachside lawns of the well-named Elements of Byron Resort. Next morning the organisers thought they would have to cancel. Nature played a mean trick on director Edwina Johnson and retiring chair and founder Chris Hanley in the festival's 20th year. However, staff, volunteers and local companies laboured all day to erect new marquees, pump water and lay gravel, and as sessions began we would never have known. An outstanding program with 150 writers resulted in a 14 per cent rise in box office takings and a record 70,000 attendances over three days by more than 3000 visitors, many in new gumboots. (Veterans of the 2008 festival flood, like me, brought our own gumboots). ...'