Kids & YA Festival 2014

The NSW Writers’ Centre is proud to present the Kids & YA Festival, directed by Aleesah Darlison (Warambi, Bearly There, the Ash Rover series), on Saturday 28 June. The Festival showcases some of Australia’s best-known and dearly loved authors, illustrators, publishers, media personnel and industry professionals, many of whom have achieved international success.

Opening with a keynote address by Boori Monty Pryor, inaugural Australian Children’s Laureate, the day also showcases the talents of Wendy Orr, author of the mega-hit Nim’s Stories series that inspired major feature films; Isobelle Carmody, creator of the hugely successful Obernewtyn Chronicles; Catherine Jinks, three-time winner of the CBCA Book of the Year Award; Matt Stanton, book designer and illustrator; , Jacqueline Harvey author of the wildly popular Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series; Kaz Delaney, author of over 60 books; and many more.

The Festival includes panels such as ‘Creating Worlds of Magic & Wonder’ with Isobelle Carmody, Pamela Freeman and Tonya Alexandra, ‘Publishers: What They’re Looking For & How to Impress Them’ with representatives from Hachette Australia, Random House, Walker Books and Wombat Books. The day concludes with pitching sessions – one for kids and young adult novels, the other for picture books – where ticket holders will have a chance to pitch their idea to an expert panel, with prizes offered for the best concepts.

Festival Director Aleesah Darlison says, “This year’s festival promises to be bigger, bolder and brighter than ever before. It’s a truly unique opportunity for those in the industry, both newcomers and well-established, to immerse themselves in the realm of children’s and young adult literature, to learn from world-class authors and illustrators, and to mingle with other passionate kids and YA book creators.”

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

If you wish to participate in the Kids & YA novels or picture books pitching session, please read the rules of entry here.

To purchase tickets, click here.

To purchase tickets to the lunchtime seminar ‘Approaching Publishers’ with Rochelle Manners, click here.

Festival Speakers

Tonya Alexandra did a PR job in Prague and worked as a marketing assistant at an educational publisher. After being a marketing guru for an internet start-up and a web content producer for Adobe, she went on to study publishing. Nymph is the first novel in her ‘Love Oracle’ series.


Sarah Ayoub is a journalist and author based in Sydney. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Sunday Style, Madison, Cosmopolitan, CLEO, House & Garden, Girlfriend, Yen and more. She conducts talks and workshops on writing for schools, writer’s events and festivals. Her first novel, Hate is Such a Strong Word, is out now.


Greg Bastian’s latest YA novel, The Goldseekers, is an historical adventure set during the NSW goldrush. His Story Design Workshops are a regular feature on writers’ centre programs across Australia. Greg is a popular mentor at the NSWWC and also runs a manuscript assessment and editing service.


Graham Byrne lives in Sydney and has worked as an electrical engineer, builder and artist. He enjoys walking in the bush, sketching with a twig dipped in ink and filling sketchbooks, out of which sometimes come good ideas. He has just illustrated his second children’s book written by Claire Saxby.


Isobelle Carmody wrote her first book, Obernewtyn, when she was 14. Since then she has written more than 30 books and many short stories. Her most recent book is The Cloud Road, which she also illustrated. She is currently completing the last book in her ‘Obernewtyn Chronicles’ series and writing a screenplay from another of her books, Greylands.


Mark Carthew is an award-winning Australian author known for his picture books, poetry anthologies and series celebrating language, humour and wordplay. Mark was the recipient of a 2013 May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship. His latest picture book is The Moose is Loose! illustrated by Matt Stanton.


Christopher Cheng is co-chair of the SCBWI International Advisory Board, an Advisory Board Member for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, and devisor of the Crystal Kite Awards. He won the Lady Cutler Award for Children’s Literature, and his picture book Python was shortlisted in the 2013 Children’s Book Council of the Year Awards. His most recent picture book, Water, is translated into Tamil, Hindi and soon Chinese.


Wai Chim is the author of the ‘Chook Chook’ series. When she was five years old, she started her first book about a ‘daddy chicken’; it came to three pages, most of it pictures. It only took her more than 20 years to come up with the rest! Wai’s work draws inspiration from her own cultural background and her parents’ experiences growing up in contemporary China.


Aleesah Darlison writes picture books and novels for children of all ages. Her picture books include Little Meerkat, Bearly There, Puggle’s Problem and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Non- Fiction; 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist). Her chapter books include Fangs and Little Good Wolf. Her novels and popular series are I Dare You, the ‘Unicorn Riders’ series, the ‘Totally Twins’ series and the ‘Ash Rover’ series.


Sarah Davis won the CBCA Crichton Award in 2009 for her first picture book, has since illustrated more than 20 books and had her work recognised by many major awards in Australia and NZ. Sarah illustrated the hugely popular ‘Fearless’ series, written by Colin Thompson, and Anna Branford’s ‘Violet Mackerel’ books.


Kaz Delaney is the author of the award-winning young adult novel Dead, Actually and the pseudonym of author Kerri Lane. Under both names she has published over 60 books including young adult novels, My Life as a Snow Bunny and Princesses Don’t Sweat.



Georgie Donaghey is founder, author and editor of Creative Kids Tales, a website created exclusively for Australian emerging children’s authors and illustrators. In 2012/13, Creative Kids Tales partnered with Room2Read and has been archived by the National Library in Canberra. She also hosts The Author’s Shelf on 2SSR 99.7FM.


Wendy Fitzgerald is an author and President of the Children’s Book Council – Northern Sydney Sub Branch. Wendy runs creative writing workshops for kids at Ku-ring-gai Art Centre and is a tutor at the Sydney Story Factory. She is the author of Indigo Solves the Pzulze – a picture book about a young girl’s battle with dyslexia.


Sarah Foster is the Managing Director of Walker Books, which she established in 1993. In 2010, she was awarded the Lady Cutler Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature.

Pamela Freeman is an award-winning author of 27 books for adults, young adults and children. Her current children’s series is the ‘Princess Betony’ books, and her most recent non-fiction kids’ book is Mary’s Australia. Pamela is known mainly for children’s fantasy and historical writing; her awards include the NSW Premier’s History Prize for Young People, the Aurealis Award, and the Wilderness Society award. Her books have been shortlisted many times for a variety of awards, including Book of the Year.

Lesley Gibbes is a children’s book author and primary school teacher. Her first picture book Scary Night, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, will be published in August 2014. Future publications include two picture books, Bring A Duck! illustrated by Sue deGennaro and Little Bear’s First Sleep illustrated by Lisa Stewart.


Pip Harry has worked as a magazine journalist, university lecturer, camp counsellor, pool lifeguard, relationships advice columnist and check-out chick. Her debut YA novel, I’ll Tell You Mine, won the 2013 Australian Family Therapists’ Awards for Children’s Literature. Her second novel, Head of the River, will be published in June 2014.


Jacqueline Harvey is a former teacher and the author of 17 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.


Meredith Jaffé writes the weekly literary column ‘The Bookshelf’ for the online women’s magazine The Hoopla. Her reviews have been featured in the NSW Writers’ Centre 366 Days of Writing and in 2013 she was a member of the expert panel that selects the longlist for the Australian Book Industry Awards.


Catherine Jinks is a three-time winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award, and has also won a Victorian Premier’s Literature Award, the Ena Noel Award for Children’s Literature and an Aurealis Award for Science Fiction. In 2001, she was presented with a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian Children’s Literature.


Rochelle Manners is the Director of Rhiza Press and Wombat Books. She is trained as a teacher, counsellor and has a Graduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing. Rochelle has also been an author in the educational market. She loves to work on family-friendly books for all ages.


Tim Miller is a marketing campaign manager and writes picture books for kids of all ages in his spare time. His first picture book with Matt Stanton, There Is a Monster Under My Bed Who Farts, was an instant hit.



Jeanmarie Morosin is a children’s book publisher at Random House Australia, where she acquires picture books and non- fiction titles. Before joining Random House, she was Executive Editor at Penguin Books for Children and Young Adults and also worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books in New York, ABC Books for Children and Allen & Unwin.



Suzanne O’Sullivan is the commissioning editor for Lothian Children’s books, the children’s imprint of Hachette Australia. She has worked in the book industry for over a decade, and has spent most of that time in children’s books, editing everything from board books to YA/crossover fiction.



Wendy Orr is the internationally published and award-winning author of more than 30 books, ranging from picture books to adult. In 2008, Nim’s Island was released as a Hollywood feature film; Return to Nim’s Island, based on Nim at Sea and starring Bindi Irwin as Nim, followed in 2013. The third in the series, Rescue on Nim’s Island, will be published June 2014.


Boori Monty Pryor was born in North Queensland. His father is from the Birri-gubba of the Bowen region and his mother from Yarrabah, a descendant of the Kunggandji and Kukuimudji. Boori is a multi-talented performer who has worked in film, television, modelling, sport, music and theatre-in-education. He has written several award-winning children’s books with Meme McDonald, and was the Inaugural Australian Children’s Laureate.

Felicity Pulman is the award-winning author of numerous novels for children and YA, including the ‘Janna Mysteries’, the ‘Shalott’ trilogy, and Ghost Boy which is currently in pre-production with a film company. Her novels cover multiple genres including crime, mystery, fantasy, history, romance and non-fiction.


Matt Stanton is the illustrator of There is a Monster Under My Bed Who Farts and The Moose is Loose. By day he is the Head of Design at one of Australia’s leading publishers and an award- winning book designer. His unique illustration style combines hand-drawn images with digital colouring to create lively picture books for children.


Zoe Walton is a publisher of books for children and young adults at Random House Australia. Along with editing New York Times bestselling author John Flanagan, Zoe works with many popular and award-winning Australian authors, including Belinda Murrell, Michael Pryor, Deborah Abela, J.C. Burke and Tristan Bancks.


Jodie Wells-Slowgrove is an author and teacher-librarian. A huge fan of fantasy fiction, her long-term goal has been to write a quest fantasy novel for younger readers. The first two books in the ‘Wilderness Fairies’ series were published by Penguin in February 2014, with the next two due in August.


Claire Zorn’s first young adult novel The Sky So Heavy was published to critical acclaim in 2013. It has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award and long listed for the Gold Inky Award. Her second novel The Protected will be published in August 2014.

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