Creative Non-Fiction Festival 2015

The NSW Writers’ Centre is proud to announce its second Creative Non-Fiction Festival, curated by journalist, TV screenwriter, author and Good Weekend columnist Benjamin Law.

Our 2015 festival is for aspiring and practising writers looking to hone their non-fiction skills in memoir and essay, criticism, profile and biography, science and medicine, opinion and columns, investigative journalism and travel writing. Beyond specific genres, the panel Finding New Audiences sheds light on how non-fiction writers can translate their work into other platforms (radio, television and stage), while sessions titled #Protips and How to Seduce an Editor offer invaluable industry insights from experts.

Speakers include medical doctor and writer Karen Hitchcock (The Monthly); broadcaster, columnist and author Richard Glover (ABC 702 Sydney); translator and author Linda Jaivin; editor, journalist and author Erik Jensen (The Saturday Paper); journalist, author and editor Jo Chandler; journalist and author Brigid Delaney (The Guardian); editor and author John Pickrell (Australian Geographic); freelance travel journalist Guy Wilkinson; investigative journalist Jess Hill; journalist and biographer Helen O’Neill; memoirist and performer Zoe Norton Lodge; playwright and columnist Nakkiah Lui; critic and biographer Mark Mordue; writer and editor Alyx Gorman; journalist Bridie Jabour (The Guardian); festival director and editor Lex Hirst; columnist Eleanor Robertson (The Guardian); radio producer and journalist Amruta Slee; writer and editor Jane McCredie; radio producer Jesse Cox (ABC RN); and book publishers Catherine Milne (HarperCollins) and Robert Watkins (Hachette).

When: Saturday 7 November, 10am-6pm

Where: NSW Writers’ Centre, Callan Park, Balmain Rd, Rozelle

Cost: Members – $60, Conc. Members – $50, Non-Members – $90

To book tickets, click here.

To view the full program, click here.

Please note that the program and speakers are subject to change.

Program changes: Linda Javin is no longer able to attend the festival. She is being replaced on the Criticism panel by Matt Roden. 


Jo Chandler is a Walkley award-winning freelance journalist and author. Formerly a long-time staffer at The Age, she took a payout and went rogue three years ago, focusing on longform storytelling. Her work has appeared in The Monthly, The Guardian, Griffith Review, New Scientist, The Global Mail (vale), amongst others.



Jesse Cox is a radio producer with a passion for storytelling. He won Silver for Best Documentary at the Third Coast International Audio Festival for The Real Tom Banks (2014) and Director’s Choice for Keep them Guessing (2013). He co-presented and produced the storytelling series Long Story Short on RN and was one of the creators and Executive Producers of All the Best, FBi Radio’s nationally distributed documentary and storytelling program. Featured in Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts and Sculpture by the Sea , you can hear Jesse’s sound installations in old beach showers or as geo-locative apps. Twitter @mrjessecox.


Brigid Delaney is the features editor of Guardian Australia. She is also the author of two books: Wild Things and This Restless Life.





Richard Glover is the author of more than a dozen books – most recently Flesh Wounds, described as “a comic romp for anyone whose parents were not what they ordered”. Richard’s weekly column has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for over 20 years. He presents the Drive show on 702 ABC Sydney, and the comedy show Thank God It’s Friday on ABC local radio. More details:



Alyx Gorman is an editor, writer and social media consultant. She’s worked for Fairfax, ELLE and the Mamamia Women’s Network. She’s currently the Fashion Editor of The Saturday Paper, and a columnist for The Guardian.





Jess Hill is a freelance investigative reporter for the The Monthly and Background Briefing, based in Sydney. In 2011, while she was a producer at ABC Radio Current Affairs, she represented Australia on the Edward R Murrow Fellowship in the United States, and a few months later, moved to Cairo as Middle East correspondent for The Global Mail. In 2012, Foreign Policy listed her as one of the top 100 women to follow on Twitter, and in 2013, she was listed as one of the 30 most influential women under 30 by Cosmopolitan.



Lex Hirst is an editor at Penguin Random House Australia. She’s also a co-director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, and co-produces an occasional political panel series at Giant Dwarf called the Junkee Take On, for politics and pop culture site, as well as reading as much as possible and listening to podcasts obsessively. Follow her @LexHirst.



Karen Hitchcock is a staff specialist in acute and general medicine at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. She holds a PhD in Literature and is an award-winning writer of fiction and medical essays. Her Quarterly Essay Dear Life: On caring for the elderly was published in 2015. She writes a monthly column (‘The Medicine’) for the Monthly magazine. Her collection of short stories Little White Slips won the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Steele-Rudd award and was short-listed in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Dobbie Award for women writers.



Bridie Jabour is a country girl working as a reporter for Guardian Australia in Sydney. She spent her formative reporting years in Queensland working for News Corp and Fairfax and has also spent time reporting in the Canberra press gallery. She occasionally writes features and commentary for the Guardian and has been seen and heard on ABC’s The Drum and Triple J’s Hack.



Erik Jensen is the founding editor of The Saturday Paper. He is also the author of Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen. His journalism has won the Walkley Award for Young Print Journalist of the Year and the UNAA’s media peace prize. He has written for various publications, including the Monthly and New Statesman, and for the sitcom Please Like Me.



Zoe Norton Lodge is the author of Almost Sincerely a collection of funny short stories about herself and her family. She is the co-creator of the storytelling live event/podcast/tv show ‘Story Club’ and is a writer/presenter on The Checkout & The Chaser’s Media Circus.




Benjamin Law is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—which were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. He’s also the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend, frankie and The Monthly, and has written for over 50 publications in Australia and worldwide.



Nakkiah Lui is a writer/actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a cowriter/star of “Black Comedy” on the ABC and is a monthly columnist for The Australian Womens Weekly Online. She has been an artist in residence at Griffin Theatre Company (2013) and was playwright in residence at Belvoir from 2012 – 2014. In 2012, Nakkiah was the first recipient of The Dreaming Award from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council.



Jane McCredie is Executive Director of the NSW Writers’ Centre and a science writer and journalist. She is the author of a book on the science of sex and gender (Making Girls and Boys), was co-editor of The Best Australian Science Writing 2013 and is resident blogger for the Medical Journal of Australia.




Catherine Milne has worked in publishing for many years, including with Penguin Books, Allen & Unwin, and now, since 2012, with HarperCollins, where she is a Publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She has an eclectic list that takes in books as diverse as non-fiction bestsellers like Killing Fairfax to Steve Bisley’s critically acclaimed memoir Stillways, and novels like Eliza Henry-Jones’ In the Quiet and Robyn Cadwallader’s The Anchoress, as well as cookbook authors like Donna Hay and the Monday Morning Cooking Club. Essentially, she looks for books that make her heart race, particularly strong, distinct voices with fascinating stories to tell.


Mark Mordue is a writer, journalist and editor based in Sydney. He was winner of the 2010 Pascall Prize for Australian Critic of the Year. Publications: the discontinuous travel memoir, Dastgah: Diary of a Headtrip (Allen & Unwin; 2001) and the poetry folio, Things That Year (Vagabond Press Rare Objects Series; 2014). Mark is currently at work on a major biography of Nick Cave (Hachette Australia).



Helen O’Neill is a journalist and author whose work has appeared worldwide; and a director on the boards of the Australian Society of Authors and Copyright Agency. A former staffer on The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and Vogue Australia, Helen has won awards in science, health and travel journalism and worked on major documentaries. Her books include A Singular Vision: Harry Seidler, Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives, and David Jones’ 175 Years. She has judged everything from the Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence to the World Food Media Awards. Her next book is due out in 2016.


John Pickrell is an award-winning journalist, the author of Flying Dinosaurs and the editor of Australian Geographic magazine. He has worked for New Scientist, Science and Cosmos, and written for BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, Scientific American and the ABC. John has featured in The Best Australian Science Writing anthology in 2011, 2014 and 2015. He studied biology at Imperial College and has a Master of Science in taxonomy and biodiversity from London’s Natural History Museum.



Eleanor Robertson is a freelance writer and comedian living in Sydney. She writes a fortnightly column for Guardian Australia, and contributes regularly to Frankie Magazine, SBS Comedy, Daily Life and The Spinoff.




Matt Roden was the cohost of Shortcuts, the weekly film and television radio show on film for FBi Radio, and contributes regularly on these topics to ABC Radio, 2ser and  He’s a Deputy Story Teller at Sydney Story Factory, where he programs and runs creative writing workshops for kids, and works on design, community outreach and fund raising projects. Matt has spoken at the Sydney Writers Festival, Sydney Film Festival, National Young Writers Festival, and the Equity Media Conference.



Amruta Slee is has worked as a journalist, publisher and radio producer in Australia and in the US. She has been deputy editor of Good Weekend and hq magazine and  spent a decade commissioning and publishing non-fiction for HarperCollins and ABC Books. She is currently a producer at Radio National.




Robert Watkins is a Publisher of Non Fiction and Literary Fiction at Hachette Australia. Throughout his career, Robert has worked across sales, marketing and publicity, which has given him a wide perspective on what books have strong commercial appeal. Robert is primarily interested in publishing nonfiction with a leaning towards young, contemporary voices, but he is also a fan of contemporary fiction with an Australian edge.



Guy Wilkinson is a freelance travel writer, photographer and aspiring filmmaker. He has worked as Features Editor for Voyeur Magazine and now contributes regularly to Fairfax Traveller, Qantas Magazine, International Traveller, Get Lost, National Geographic Traveller and more. He specialises mainly in adventure themed stories and anything a bit out of the ordinary-as long as it has genuine substance. Guy is a fiend for all things non-fiction, be it documentary, photography or feature writing.


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