Kids and YA Festival 2016

Connect with a community, gain industry insight and share your work at the 2016 Kids and YA Festival. With panels, workshops and a chance to pitch your unpublished manuscript, this year’s program offers the tools to take the next step in your writing career – whatever that might be.

Directed by children’s author Aleesah Darlison, the 2016 Kids and YA Festival is brimming with diverse and dynamic speakers, including some of our freshest faces and most established storytellers, along with a selection of top industry experts.

The program features over 40 speakers talking across 13 events. Highlights include keynote speaker Tristan Bancks (Two Wolves, the My Life series); 2010 Kids and YA pitching session winner Jodie Wells-Slowgrove (Wilderness Fairies series); award-winning author Sophie Masson (Hunter’s Moon, the Trinity duology); Curtis Brown literary agent Tara Wynne; media all-rounder Andrew Daddo (When I Grow Up, One Step); YA wunderkind Will Kostakis (The First Third, The Sidekicks); author of Introducing Teddy Jessica Walton; and more.

Saturday 25 June, 10am-6pm

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

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

Book tickets here

Full program here

Book into networking seminar Paying it Forward and Giving Back

View instructions for the pitching sessions



Liz Anelli is a Newcastle illustrator, who left England in 2012 with her husband Mario to live in sunny Newcastle, NSW. Since relocating Liz has created huge storymaps for museums and illustrations for Walker Books, Readers Digest and Penguin Random House. Her latest picturebooks are Desert Lake by Pamela Freeman, One Photo by Ross Watkins and Howzat! by Mike LeFroy. She has been awarded ASA and NAVA grants and a May Gibbs Fellowship. Liz is an ambassador for Books in Homes and reviewer for Reading Time. @lizillustrator



Tristan Bancks is a children’s and teen author with a background in acting and filmmaking. His books include the My Life series, the Mac Slater series and Two Wolves, a crime-mystery novel for middle-graders. Two Wolves won Honour Book in the 2015 CBCA Book of the Year Awards and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. It also won the YABBA and KOALA Children’s Choice Awards. Tristan is excited by the future of storytelling and inspiring others to create. @tristanbancks



Dianne Bates is a full-time freelance writer and publisher of About Kids Books. Di has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor and now works as a freelance editor and manuscript assessor. In 2006, she founded the children’s book industry newsletter, Buzz Words. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s literature. She shares her website, Enterprising Words, with author husband Bill Condon. @BuzzWordsZine



Steph Bowe is the 22-year-old author of young adult novels Girl Saves Boy and All This Could End (Text Publishing). Her writing on feminism appeared in the Destroying the Joint anthology (UQP). She is a Schools Ambassador for the Stella Prize in Queensland, and a 2016 fellow of the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust. She lives on the Gold Coast with her family, and blogs about young adult fiction. @stephbowe



David Burton is an award-winning playwright and author. In 2014, his first book, How to Be Happy: a memoir, won the Text Prize Young Adult and Children’s Writing and was published the following year. His theatrical work includes April’s FoolThe Logan ProjectSt Mary’s In Exile and Orbit, all published by Playlab Press. David also has a couple of popular podcasts: Mentor and Ask Pew!Pew!. David likes working with young creatives, and enjoys writing for a young adult audience. @dave_burton



Chren Byng is the publisher for ABC Children’s Books at HarperCollins Publishers Australia. After discovering a love of linguistics at university, Chren realised that publishing was the perfect industry for her and she has now worked with books for over a decade. During that time, she has edited and published award-winning and bestselling children’s books from many of Australia’s most-loved authors and illustrators. @ChrenKali



Libby-Jane Charleston is a journalist and author. She started her career as one of the youngest columnists in Australia at the West Australian. She’s worked as a TV reporter for Nine, Ten, SBS, Seven and the ABC. Currently she’s working at The Huffington Post. She’s the author of true crime book Fatal Females and children’s picture book I Will Love You Until. She lives in Sydney with her three sons: she will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.


Meredith Costain is a versatile writer whose work ranges from picture books through to novels, poetry and narrative non-fiction. Her books include CBCA Honour Book Doodledum Dancing, The Cuddliest Hug, Musical Harriet, novelisations of ABC TV’s Dance Academy, and tween series A Year in Girl Hell. Her latest series is the quirky Ella Diaries, which has sold around the world. Meredith enjoys presenting writing workshops for children and adults around Australia. @MeredithCostain



Andrew Daddo has managed to have a crack at just about every aspect of the entertainment industry, probably more out of necessity than by design. He’s written 25 books of various sizes, weights and colours. Picture books, chapter books, short story collections, novels and a biography. He also talks up literacy in schools across Australia. One Step is Andrew’s newest book, but you’ll have to wait until July 2016 to get a look at it.



Aleesah Darlison is an award-winning Australian children’s author. Her much-loved stories promote courage, understanding, anti-bullying, self-belief, friendship, teamwork and environmental themes. In 2015, she won the Environment Award for Children’s Literature (non-fiction). Aleesah’s titles include Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, Awesome Animal Stories for Kids, the Netball Gems series, the Unicorn Riders series, Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix, Little Good Wolf, Puggle’s Problem, Little Meerkat, Spidery Iggy, and Mama and Hug. @Aleesah



Georgie Donaghey discovered her love for creative writing at seven. She’s now a lot older and wiser, her first picture book published in 2015 and her second to be released soon. Her involvement with the children’s writing industry is extensive as a past president of the CBCA Sutherland branch and founder of Creative Kids Tales, an industry-recognised website designed to assist Australian emerging children’s authors. She even took her love of writing to the airwaves with The Author’s Shelf via community radio. @CKidsTales



Kylie Fornasier is a writer, teacher, bookworm and daydreamer. She writes books for children and young adults, including the much-talked-about YA novel, The Things I Didn’t Say, which follows the journey of a 17-year-old girl with Selective Mutism. In March this year, she travelled across Australia with the Penguin Random House #YASquad2016 where she learnt that she will do anything her publicist tells her to do, including playing dead on the floor of a hotel lobby! @KylieFornasier



Pamela Freeman is an award-winning author for both children and adults. Apart from Desert Lake: Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, her most recent children’s books are the Princess Betony series, beginning with Princess Betony and the UnicornDesert Lake: Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is her 30th book. Pamela also writes historical fiction for adults under the name Pamela Hart; her most recent book for adults is The War Bride. @pamelahartbooks



Sandy Fussell is the author of 14 books including the popular Samurai Kids series and Polar Boy (CBCA short-listed). Her most recent release is a picture book, Sad, the Dog, recommended in a New York Times review. She is enthusiastic about school visits, cultural diversity in literature and ICT in education. Having survived two life-threatening illnesses in recent years, she knows for certain the glass is always half–full. @sandyfussell



Serena Geddes is the illustrator of the highly successful Lulu Bell series written by Belinda Murrell, published by Penguin Random House. She has illustrated over 36 books ranging from board books to picture books to junior novels, and has just been offered a contract with Simon and Schuster (NY) for her first author-illustrated picture book, Rosie and Rasmus.




Susanne Gervay has been awarded the Lifetime Social Justice Literature Award by the International Literacy Association, and has received an Order of Australia. Her rite-of-passage I Am Jack books on school bullying were adapted into an acclaimed play by Monkey Baa Theatre, touring Australian and US theatres, and have been published in many countries. Her YA book Butterflies has also achieved international acclaim. Susanne was former chair of the board at NSWWC, writer ambassador for Room to Read, and head of SCBWI Australia East & NZ. @sgervay



David Hardy is an Indigenous author/artist with more than eight years of animation experience with Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is a senior gaming illustrator/animator and freelance illustrator, specializing in portraits and caricatures. Whilst at Disney, David had the opportunity to work on 12 animated feature films, including The Lion King 3, Tarzan II, Lilo & Stitch 2 and Return to Neverland. In 2005, David was offered the role of clean-up animation director in Manila, Philippines, where he worked on The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning and The Fox and the Hound 2.



Jacqueline Harvey is the author of 28 novels for younger readers and a CBCA award-winning picture book. Her bestselling Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series are published internationally and have garnered various short listings and awards. Jacqueline travels widely, speaking and teaching in Australia and overseas. She is an ambassador for Dymocks Children’s Charities and Room to Read. Jacqueline relishes any opportunity to get back into school and work with the children who inspire her writing. @JacquelineHarve



Anouska Jones is the Publisher at EK Books, the children’s picture book imprint of Exisle Publishing. Launched in 2013, this boutique imprint is already home to some award-winning titles and best-selling books. In her spare time, Anouska is also senior editor of the children’s literature website Kids’ Book Review. Adding author to her job description, she will release her first picture book in October 2016.




Will Kostakis dabbled in celebrity journalism and reality TV, before writing for young adults. His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just 19, and his second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year and Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The Sidekicks is his third novel for young adults. @willkostakis




When Jan Latta came face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda the experience changed her life. She decided to write books for children on endangered animals. But first she became a wildlife photographer, travelling to India, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Uganda and 10 times to Africa. The ABC asked Jan to write Diary of a Wildlife Photographer, a 104-page journal of her adventures in the wild with 300 stunning photographs. @truetolifebooks



Dougal MacPherson once drew a digger and a truck on a rainy Sunday afternoon to entertain his young son. Since then he has illustrated for tech websites and conferences and now, a children’s book. Dougal lives with his wife, son, daughter and a cat called Monster. He shares his artwork on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as @15mindrawings.




Rochelle Manners is the founder of Wombat Books and Rhiza Press, traditional publishing houses located in Brisbane. She believes books should touch lives by leaving lasting memories and has built her company around these values. Rochelle is always on the lookout for the next story to be shared. Wombat Books publishes picture books and early reader series, while Rhiza Press focuses on young adult and general fiction, as well as unique gift books. @RochelleManners



Sophie Masson is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults. Her most recent books are YA fairytale novel Hunter’s Moon and adult novel Trinity: The False Prince, second in the Trinity duology. Sophie is also a founding partner and co-director in Christmas Press, a boutique publisher specialising in beautiful picture books and illustrated fiction for children. @SophieMasson1



Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author, former primary school teacher and mother of two. She is the CBCA NSW Newcastle sub-branch president, on the committee of the Newcastle Writers Festival, facilitator of the Hunter Writers Centre Children’s Writing Group, and is a Books In Homes volunteer role model. In her rare spare time, Katrina loves to rummage around in bookshops and drink freshly brewed tea. Dandelions, illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, is Katrina’s first picture book. @katrinamckelvey



Belinda Murrell is a bestselling, internationally published children’s author with a history of writing in her family that spans over 200 years. Her 27 books include The Sun Sword fantasy trilogy as well as the popular Lulu Bell series for younger readers. She is also known for her award-winning historical timeslip books including The River Charm, The Locket of Dreams, The Forgotten Pearl, and The Ivory Rose. Her latest novel The Lost Sapphire is set in Melbourne in the 1920s.



Jess Owen is an editor for Penguin Young Readers, Penguin Random House Australia. She has always had her nose in a book and started her career in children’s book publishing at Walker Books Australia.





Chrissie Perry is the author of over 35 books for children and young adults, including 13 books in the popular Go Girl series and the award winning Whisper. Her work has been published in 10 countries. Her new middle fiction series Penelope Perfect has already been acquired by Simon and Schuster, North America. Chrissie lives in St Kilda, Melbourne, with her husband, three children who are stubbornly refusing to stay young and an opinionated Maltese shih tzu called Gidget.



James Roy is the author of 30 books for young people, including the NSW Premier’s Award winner Town, the WA Premier’s Book Prize winner Anonymity Jones, and the CBCA Honour Books Captain Mack and Billy Mack’s War. He visits many schools each year, both locally and internationally, to speak about his books and writing in general. James’ latest books are One Thousand Hills, co-written with Noel Zihabamwe, a Rwandan genocide survivor, and the Chook Doolan books for very young readers.



Pamela Rushby has worked in advertising, as a pre-school teacher, and as a writer and producer of educational television, audio and multimedia. She currently freelances as a writer and loves delving into history to find stories. Her books and films have won many awards.




Michael Salmon has been entertaining young Australians since 1967, with 176 children’s books, toys, merchandise, theatre and television work. In 1978 ABC-TV took Michael’s character Alexander Bunyip from his first book, The Monster that ate Canberra, and made him into a national star. In 2011, the ACT government unveiled a bronze statue of Alexander celebrating his role in helping children read. Michael spends most of his time visiting primary schools, drawing his cartoons and encouraging students to develop their own creativity. @AlexanderBunyip



Holly Toohey is a Publishing Executive at Penguin Random House who specialises in middle-grade commercial fiction. She creates and acquires new series, with a focus on brand partnerships. She has the pleasure of working with wonderfully talented authors such as Jacqueline Harvey, RA Spratt and George Ivanoff, and is proud to have published two Australian books in James Patterson’s international bestselling middle school series.



Adele Walsh is a passionate advocate for writing and reading for young people. She has a professional background as a teacher and now works as the program coordinator for the Centre for Youth Literature, providing online content as well as programming events to promote literature for, and to, young adults. In 2015, she was announced as a Melbourne City of Literature travel grant recipient enabling her to observe a range of youth literature programming in the US. @snarkywench



Jessica Walton was inspired to write Introducing Teddy, a story about a transgender teddy bear, after her dad Tina came out as a trans woman. Jess wanted books that reflected the diversity in her family to read to her young son. The book started out as a Kickstarter project, and will now be published by Bloomsbury. Jess lives with her wife, son and cats in Melbourne. @JessHealyWalton




Jodie Wells-Slowgrove is the author of the Wilderness Fairies series, illustrated by Kerry Millard and published by Penguin. When not writing she works as a primary school teacher-librarian, where she spends much of her time reading out loud and cajoling the kids into reading her favourite books and authors. She is one of the founders of The Story Crowd who bring educational, inspiring and entertaining literature festivals to schools across Australia. @JWellsSlowgrove



Susan Whelan is a children’s author based in Newcastle/Lake Macquarie. She is the author of Don’t Think About Purple Elephants and managing editor of popular children’s literature website Kids’ Book Review. Susan has a passion for writing stories that start conversations. She has a particular interest in diversity in children’s literature and stories that focus on creativity and STEM themes. @readupsidedown




Sandra Wigzell has always loved books. She realised a lifelong dream when she purchased her own bookshop and was devastated to close it some years later. She has been a judge for the Aurealis Awards and currently owns and organises Book Expo Australia, an expo showcasing Australian publishers and authors. @bookexpoaus




Wanda Wiltshire spent her school days penning poetry and sneaking novels into class. After watching her children learn to read, Wanda finally realised her own talent for writing could no longer be ignored. She now creates characters full of inner strength, fuelled by her limitless imagination. Wanda draws inspiration from where the mountains meet the great Southern Ocean near her family’s Sydney home. She creates vivid worlds where her characters challenge themselves, and the charmed creatures they encounter. @Wanda_Wiltshire



Michelle Worthington is an internationally published award-winning author of empowering picture books for children of all ages. Her goal is to inspire children to believe in themselves and encourage reluctant readers to fall in love with books. Two-time winner of the International Book Award for Children’s Hardcover Fiction and finalist in the US Best Book Awards, Michelle also received a Gellett Burgess Award for Children’s Literature and a Silver Moonbeam Award for her contribution to celebrating diversity in Picture Books. @michelle_author



Tara Wynne joined Curtis Brown UK in 1998, and moved to Curtis Brown Australia as a Literary Agent in January 2002. She represents a broad range of writers from commercial (romance, thrillers, crime, fantasy) literary fiction and non-fiction (travel, memoir, history, self-help) to young adult fiction and children’s illustrators. In her spare time she loves reading ‘real’ books on the road to great places!




Noel  Zihabamwe is a Rwandan Australian. He co-authored One Thousand Hills, the story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide as told by a young boy, Pascal. Noel holds degrees in social welfare, policy and social research and works as a community development officer, assisting migrants and refugees in resettlement. Noel was awarded an African Australian Award in 2014 and a Community Services & Leadership Award by Western Sydney University in 2015. @NoelYan1



The Inaugural NSW Writers’ Centre Kids & YA

Twitter Pitch Party

When: Wednesday 1 June, 9am – 4pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time – Sydney).

What: Tweet a 140-character pitch for your completed unpublished picture book, junior fiction, middle grade or young adult book using the hashtag #NSWWCPitch.

Prize: free entry to the Kids and YA Festival as well as a confirmed place in the appropriate pitching session on the day. Top three pitches in each category read by a literary agent.

How: The pitch must include the hashtag #NSWWCPitch and the category (#PB, #JF, #MG, #YA) in the tweet. The “#” is important to include. It will sort the categories to make it easier for the judges.

At the end of the day we’ll announce the three best pitches in each category to be forwarded to the agent. From these the overall winner will be selected. Any further outcomes, such as full submission requests from the agent, are entirely up to the agent’s discretion.

You can pitch more than one manuscript. However, you may only tweet one pitch per project on the day. Open to Australian residents only.

You’re welcome to show your support and favourite your friends’ pitches, but please be aware that this has no bearing on who the judges will select.

We really hope to see some success stories come out of this inaugural #NSWWCPitch competition! For more information, email: [email protected].


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