Previous Talking Writing events

Callan Park Stories

Pocketed away at the edge of the city, Callan Park’s leafy sanctuary belies a complex, sometimes disturbing history. Now home to both The NSW Writers Centre and Sydney College of the Arts, the former psychiatric hospital has long been a muse to writers and artists. At Callan Park Stories we delved into some of these stories on the site that inspired them. The audience witnessed the abandoned parts of the park through the eyes of photographer Brett Patman (Lost Collective). Were surrounded by the choral arrangements of Andrew Howes as performed by the Leichhardt Espresso Chorus while exploring the Kirkbride dungeons. Finally, everyone sat back and experienced the park as imagined by Dorothy Porter with a reading from What a Piece of Work by poet and friend of the author Judith Beveridge.

Thursday 24 November, 6.30-8.00pm



Judith Beveridge is the author of six award winning collections of poetry, most recently Devadatta’s Poems and Hook and Eye: a selection of poems published in the US by George Braziller. She teaches post graduate poetry writing at the University of Sydney. Her New and Selected Poems will be published in 2017. She is one of four editors of the recently released anthology, Contemporary Australian Poetry. Her poetry has been taught in schools and universities. She was poetry editor for Meanjin during 2005-2015.


Andrew Howes is a composer, based in Manhattan, NY. He was born in Sydney and completed his bachelor’s in composition at the Royal College of Music, London.





Brett Patman has been photographing abandoned buildings and disused industry since 2011. What began as a hobby quickly developed into an obsession which has taken Brett inside some of Australia’s most guarded buildings. Towards the end of 2015, Brett created Lost Collective as a means of documenting the places he visits, almost instantly, it began to receive local and international recognition, even winning runner-up in the 2016 National Trust Heritage Awards. Lost Collective, a unique project that has been able to engage and reconnect communities while preserving history through beautiful imagery and public engagement, soon became one of Australias most well known online catalogues of rarely seen built environments.

Who’s Writing Who?


Australia is a richly multicultural society yet this reality is not necessarily well reflected in our writing and other cultural spaces. Are we missing voices, characters, stories, and ideas that could provide important insights into our society? For writers who do not possess Anglo-European heritage and whose roots lay elsewhere, are there additional challenges to overcome?

Chaired by Sheila Pham, Talking Writing: Who’s Writing Who? explored why broad representation is important both on and off the page. Michelle Cahill (Letter to Pessoa, Vishvarūpa), Julie Koh (Portable Curiosities, Capital Misfits), Ramon Loyola (I Look For You In Other Truths, The Heaving Pavement: Epistles on an Anxious Life) and Sara Saleh (Wasting the Milk in the Summer) delved into the ethical conundrums and personal frustrations of writing about and for multicultural Australia.

Thursday 22 September. 6:30-8:00pm.

The speakers for this event were interviewed in our library by Bookish for episode 27 Who Should Write What?

Who’s Writing Who? was also written about on Writers’ Bloc by Dr Jane Park.

The event was also mentioned in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald by Susan Wyndham.



Michelle Cahill is the author of fiction, essays and poetry, her most recent collection, Vishvarupa, shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. She is editor of the online literary magazine Mascara and co-editor of the anthology Contemporary Asian Australian Poets. Her prizes include the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Award, the Val Vallis Award, the Inverawe Prize and she was shortlisted in the Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Letter to Pessoa is her debut collection of short fiction.


Julie Koh has written two short story collections: Capital Misfits (Spineless Wonders, 2015) and Portable Curiosities (UQP, 2016). Her short stories have appeared in The Best Australian Stories 2014 and 2015, The Australian, The Sleepers Almanac, The Lifted Brow, Seizure, The Canary Press, Kyoto Journal, The Fish Anthology and Fixi Novo’s HEAT. She is the editor of BooksActually’s Gold Standard 2016 (Math Paper Press).



Ramon Loyola is the author of three books of poetry published through MoshPit: not poems, just words (2014), I Look For You In Other Truths (2014) and The Heaving Pavement: Epistles on an Anxious Life (2015). His short story, “Words That Don’t Mean Anything”, was published as a single pocketbook by In Short Publishing Company in 2015. His latest work, Swells In Tiny Rooms, is a chapbook of poetry published by Blank Rune Press in August 2016. He is also the co-editor of creative arts journal Verity La’s Discoursing Diaspora project.


Sheila Pham is a writer and producer, and has worked on numerous projects over the past decade promoting under-represented voices. Her writing has been published in various anthologies, websites and publications, including Southerly, New Philosopher, Overland, Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue and Peril. In 2015 she was awarded a CAL WestWords Western Sydney Emerging Writer Fellowship. She recently worked at the ABC in various digital and broadcast roles, and is currently a project manager at Sydney Story Factory.


Sara Saleh is an Arab-Australian human rights law and refugee advocate, grassroots activist and creative artist with a decade-long career working with NGOs like Amnesty International Australia, to performing her poetry locally and internationally. A 2015 Australian Poetry Slam NSW State Finalist, Sara is currently working on her social enterprise, ReBOOKS, dedicated to improving refugee literacy, and is a Board Member of WestWords and of GetUp! Her first poetry collection, Wasting the Milk in the Summer, was released August 2016.

Weird Sydney & Program Launch – 21 July 2016

Help NSW Writers’ Centre launch the July-December course program with a reboot of Weird Sydney at the fabulous new Double Bay Library. Explore the lesser known aspects of Sydney, Australia’s largest city. While we may be an internationally renowned tourist destination and cultural hub, Sydney is also home to an overlapping series of bizarre urban planning mishaps, dubious oral histories, and crazy archival projects.

Vanessa Berry talks about lesser-known oddities of Sydney’s Inner West, Michael Wayne explores the secret histories of decrepit commercial properties, Chris Mikul presents tales from his landmark zine series Bizarrism, and Sydney curator Peter Doyle dusts off some oddities from his collection of antique police photos and Australian pulp comics of the early 20th century. Expect door prizes and plenty of local weirdness.

Presented by Woollahra Libraries and the NSW Writers Centre.


Vanessa Berry is the author of two nonfiction books and the popular blog Mirror Sydney, which investigates lesser known stories, places, and experiences in Sydney’s city and suburbs.





Chris Mikul is a Sydney-based writer whose books include The Cult Files, Tales of the Macabre and Ordinary, TV Poems and The Eccentropedia. He also publishes the long-running zine Bizarrism and Biblio-Curiosa, devoted to unusual fiction. Two compilations of material from Bizarrism will be published by Headpress in the UK in 2016.




Peter Doyle is an Australian author, musician, and visual artist. He lives in Newtown, New South Wales, and works for Macquarie University where he teaches Print Media Production and as a part-time curator of Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum. He is the author of City of Shadows, a collection of police photographs taken in Sydney from 1912-1948.




Michael Wayne is a filmmaker and writer of Past Lives of the Near Future, a blog which examines the many historical clues scattered all over Sydney. His documentary about the obsession of collecting is due out at the end of the year.



Talking Writing: Lebanon – 21 April 2016

Join us for an evening of discussion about Lebanon, as we delve into its influence as a place and a culture. We’ll explore what it’s like to visit a place so inextricable from your identity for the first time, as well as what it’s like to fictionalise your heritage from afar. Writer and human rights/refugee advocate Sara Saleh will be in conversation with novelist Leila Yusaf Chung, SWEATSHOP director and author Michael Mohammed Ahmad; and editor and personal essayist Sheree Joseph.


Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the director of SWEATSHOP: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and author of The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014). He is currently completing a doctorate of creative arts at the Western Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre.




Leila Yusaf Chung is the author of Chasing Shadows, a novel set in Lebanon and the Middle East. She was a speaker at Sydney and Adelaide Writers festivals and appeared on various radio talks. Leila has also published opinion pieces in The Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald.

For the past twenty years Leila has worked in NGO posts in Sydney associated with women’s health, migrants and refugees.

Leila is currently working on her second novel.

Sheree Joseph is a writer, editor and digital content specialist. She is the Managing Editor at The Vocal, a new experimental publishing initiative from Fairfax aimed at millennials. In her spare time, she writes longer personal essays on her blog Tiny Thought Revolution and Medium. She speaks five languages, meaning she can ask “where is the cheese?” throughout most of the world.



Sara Saleh is an Arab-Australian human rights law and refugee advocate, grassroots activist and creative artist with a decade-long career working with NGOs like Amnesty International Australia, to performing her poetry locally and internationally.

Sara regularly speaks and writes on human rights, refugees, Palestine and the politics of language and identity, has been published across national media and featured on ABC the Drum.

A 2015 Australian Poetry Slam NSW State Finalist, Sara is currently working on her social enterprise, ReBOOKS, dedicated to improving refugee literacy, and is a Board Member of WestWords, and of GetUp!.



Talking Writing: Sport – 31 March 2016

Is sport culture? How does what we write about sport change the game? What are the issues being tackled in sport writing today?

Our first Talking Writing for 2016 is all about sport and what we write about it. Featuring sport biographer and Inside Sport editor Graem Sims in conversation with writer and sport historian Erin Riley,  Zela editor and advocate for women in sport Danielle Warby, and cricket historian Ric Sissions.


Erin Riley is a sports writer and historian from Sydney. She has written extensively about gender and sport in Australia. Frustrated with Australian sports media’s focus on match results and this week’s gossip, her writing is focused on understanding the role sport and sport institutions play in Australian life. Her work has appeared in outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Guardian and SBS Zela.



Graem Sims has been a journalist and editor on a number of Australia’s leading magazines for more than 30 years. He has been editor of Inside Sport for the last ten years, and its deputy editor from the magazine’s inception in 1991. He was the Magazine Publishers’ Association of Australia (MPAA) Feature Writer Of the Year in 2002 for his writing in Inside Sport. He has written one book, Why Die?, a biography of renowned Australian athletics coach Percy Cerutty (2003).


Ric Sissons runs a small graphic design business in Sydney. For many years he worked in book publishing. Ric also writes cricket books. His second book, The PlayersA Social History of the Professional Cricketer won the English Cricket Society Silver Jubilee Award. His two most recent books are The Terror: Charlie Turner, Australia’s Greatest Bowler and Reggie: Five years of fame, the story of Reginald Duff.



Danielle Warby is an advocate for women in sport and has been working to promote women’s sport since 2006. Collaborating with elite athletes, sports organisations and the media, she’s built up the largest women’s sport network in the country. Danielle is currently the editor of Zela, SBS’s website dedicated to women in sport.



*Header images courtesy of NAPARAZZI, Yasser Alghofily, and Steve Baty (CC some rights reserved). Images have been altered.


Talking Writing: Weird Sydney – 19 November 2015

Sydney is the largest city in Australia, an internationally renowned tourist destination and a cultural hub of Australia. It is also home to overlapping series of bizarre urban planning mishaps, dubious oral histories, and crazy archival projects.

Join us at the NSW Writers’ Centre on Thursday 19 November for Weird Sydney, our last Talking Writing event of the year. Vanessa Berry talks about lesser-known oddities of Sydney’s Inner West, Michael Wayne explores the secret histories of decrepit commercial properties, Chris Mikul presents tales from his landmark zine series Bizarrism, and Sydney curator Peter Doyle dusts off some oddities from his collection of antique police photos and Australian pulp comics of the early 20th century. Sure to enthral, horrify and fascinate even the most jaded of thrillseekers.


Vanessa Berry is the author of two nonfiction books and the popular blog Mirror Sydney, which investigates lesser known stories, places, and experiences in Sydney’s city and suburbs.




Chris Mikul is a Sydney-based writer whose books include The Cult Files, Tales of the Macabre and Ordinary, TV Poems and The Eccentropedia. He also publishes the long-running zine Bizarrism and Biblio-Curiosa, devoted to unusual fiction. Two compilations of material from Bizarrism will be published by Headpress in the UK in 2016.



Peter Doyle is an Australian author, musician, and visual artist. He lives in Newtown, New South Wales, and works for Macquarie University where he teaches Print Media Production and as a part-time curator of Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum



Michael Wayne is a filmmaker and writer of Past Lives of the Near Future, a blog which examines the many historical clues scattered all over Sydney. His documentary about the obsession of collecting is due out at the end of the year.



Talking Writing: Refugee Stories – 22 October 2015

Refugees from many parts of the world have made new homes in Australia, contributing to our cultural and literary life. Come along to the NSW Writers’ Centre to hear some of the stories that have come out of that experience. Safdar Ahmed shares his experience of visiting detainees at Villawood detention centre and encouraging them to express their plight through creativity. Emerging Assyrian-Australian writer Monikka Eliah speaks of her writing about the self and intimate human experience. Originally from Somalia, Hani Abdile talks about the experience of putting together a community newsletter while incarcerated on Christmas Island, only for the newsletter to be banned by authorities. Nasrin Mahoutchi talks about the writing workshops she runs in Western Sydney for women, newly arrived migrants and refugees. Panel chair Sheila Pham will discuss how her writing captures her parents’ experiences as refugees as well as being a member of the Vietnamese diaspora.


Safdar Ahmed is a Sydney-based artist and academic. He is the author of Reform and Modernity in Islam and the web-comic Villawood: Notes from an immigration detention centre. He works mostly in the mediums of drawing and comics, and is a founding member of The Refugee Art Project.




Monikka Eliah is an emerging Assyrian-Australian writer. She recently graduated from the University of New South Wales with an Arts degree, majoring in English. Her writing largely focuses on the self and intimate human experiences. She is currently a member of the SWEATSHOP Writers Collective.




Hani Abdile is an emerging Somalian-Australian writer who spent time in detention on Christmas Island. She is involved with Behind The Wire, an oral history project documenting the experience of people in mandatory detention over the past 23 years.





Nasrin Mahoutchi has worked as an art and writing facilitator at various organisations and NGOs. She is a recipient of funding from the Australia Council for the Arts to facilitate writing workshops in Western Sydney for women and newly arrived migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds. Nasrin has used text from different languages to create an installation titled Invisible Map, which has been shown in Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and received international attention. Nasrin writes in Farsi and English.



Sheila Ngoc Pham is a writer and communications professional. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications including Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings, Peril magazine and The Big Issue. She has written and performed on stage and radio, and was part of Performance 4a’s Stories Then and Now which had seasons at Carriageworks, Casula Powerhouse and OzAsia Festival. Sheila is a CAL WestWords Western Sydney Emerging Writer Fellow for 2015.


My Literary Hero is Problematic / Program Launch – 18 June 2015

Shamelessly lifted from a similarly-titled event at last year’s National Young Writers’ Festival, which in turn was shamelessly lifted from a popular Tumblr blog, My Literary Hero is Problematic is a series of presentations on the dark foibles of all your favourite writers. Come and enjoy the delicious shame of liking a writer who has acted poorly in their personal life. With performances by Candice Fox, Emily Maguire, Oliver Mol and Gabrielle Tozer. Hosted by NYWF co-director Lex Hirst.

This event, in partnership with the NYWF, will also mark the launch of the NSW Writers’ Centre July-December 2015 Course Program. Check out our diverse range of courses, workshops, festivals and seminars, and while you’re there you can get a peek at this year’s NYWF program.

On Water


Water has a special place in Australian literature. It both isolates us from the rest of the world and provides us with a large part of our cultural life – the beach, the surf, and the swimming pool. The dangers of the deep are an ongoing fascination, and in turn, the dangers we pose to that environment have become more and more concerning.

Pip Newling, Ian Hoskins and Kirsty Eagar join us for a discussion chaired by Lex Hirst on Thursday 16 April, 6:30-8:00pm, to discuss surfie horror novels, racism in rural swimming pools and the history of Sydney Harbour and the NSW coast.

Ian HoskinsSydney Harbour: a history won the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Literary Prize for History. Coast: a history of the NSW edge was published in 2013 and won the 2014 NSW Premier’s History Prize for Regional and Community History.




Kirsty Eagar studied economics and worked at the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of England before changing careers, wanting a life where she could surf every day. Her debut novel, Raw Blue, explores the aftermath of sexual assault, and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult fiction. Her second novel, Saltwater Vampires, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Awards. Her latest work, Night Beach, has been described as ‘Gothic meets oceanic’, and was shortlisted for several major literary awards. Kirsty lives with her family in a small town known as Sydney’s northern beaches.


Pip Newling‘s first book of memoir, Knockabout Girl, was published in 2007. She keeps a blog at to keep track of articles, thoughts, and writings. She is also the author of The Swimming Pool Diaries, an ongoing series about public swimming pools.



Lex Hirst is an editor at Random House Australia, currently specialising in digital-first romance books. She is Co-director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, helps run Factory Talks at the Sydney Story Factory, does occasional interviews for Final Draft, the book show on 2SER, and generally reads as much as she can.



Who is Alice Campion?

The collaborative novel is a strange and rare beast. From detective yarn The Floating Admiral to publishing hoax Naked Came the Stranger, there is a history of writing groups coming together to create these Frankenbooks, which sometimes go on to become cult classics.

The most recent example is that of Inner West-based book club The BookSluts. After lamenting the lack of funds available to the group for a trip to Russia, they decided to work together to ‘write a best seller’. The result is The Painted Sky, a romance novel authored under the pseudonym Alice Campion and published by Random House. The actual authors are book club members Jenny Crocker, Madeline Oliver, Denise Tart, Jane St Vincent Welch and Jane Richards, all of whom will be joining us at the NSW Writers’ Centre for our next Talking Writing event, along with Random House publisher Beverly Cousins.

How does one approach a collaboration of this kind? How did a book club manage to convince a major publisher to print their work? And who exactly is Alice Campion?

Talking Writing: Lyrics on the Lawn

Sometimes writers perform and sometimes performers write. Explore a few of the many forms this dynamic can take in our first Talking Writing event for the year on Thursday 19 February. The event is entitled Lyrics on the Lawn and will take the form of a series of performances held in the evening on the beautiful grounds of the NSW Writers’ Centre.

Featuring Zohab Zee Khan (current Australian Slam Poetry Champion), Nardi Simpson (writer, member of  band The Stiff Gins), Dave Drayton (2014 Blake Poetry Prize winner), and Belinda Campbell (musician and writer).


Talking Writing: Comics at Dusk

Join us for an exhibition opening and illustrated readings in the gardens of the NSW Writers’ Centre on Thursday 27 November. NSWWC Projects Officer Leigh Rigozzi has curated an exhibition of Australian comic art throughout the Writers’ Centre which will be followed by a series of illustrated readings in the gardens at dusk.
Artists in the exhibition include Pat Grant, Jonathan McBurnie, Chris Gooch, Richard Carroll, Fionn McCabe, Ben Juers, Mandy Ord, Simon Hanselmann, Lizzie Nagy, Michael Fikaris, Nicky Minus, Katie Parrish, Glenn Smith, Greg Sharp, and Josh Santospirito.
Readings were performed by Pat Grant, Nicky Minus, Greg Sharp, Fionn McCabe and Kodie Bedford.

Talking Writing: Stories of Sydney

SWEATSHOP is the Western Sydney Literacy Movement, a group devoted to empowering Western Sydney communities through literacy and critical thinking. It mentors, supports and employs Western Sydney artists to work with communities and create literature and art specific to their experiences and identities.

On Thursday 16 October, SWEATSHOP will be bringing their unique brand of storytelling to the NSW Writers’ Centre for an evening of readings and discussion from their book Stories of Sydney, a collaboration with Seizure journal. Featuring Michael Mohammed Ahmad (The Tribe), Luke Carman (An Elegant Young Man), Maryam Azam, and Amanda Yeo, this event will be an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Sydney’s best new writers.


Talking Writing: Brooke Davis – 25 September

Our Talking Writing event for September features bestselling debut author Brooke Davis and some of the team from Hachette, the publishers of her heart-warming novel. Lost & Found is a ‘highly entertaining road trip and much, much more’ (The West Australian), ‘heartbreaking and funny and brilliant’ (Herald Sun), and ‘a lovely, whimsical story’ (Good Reading).

After seven-year old Millie Bird realises that all creatures are mortal, she begins to put together her own ‘Book of Dead Things’. After the death of her father, she meets two lost souls called Agatha and Carl. They start to break the rules to discover what living is all about.

Brooke Davis’ first novel has sparked a huge amount of buzz in Australia and overseas. Join us for a discussion between Brooke, her publisher Vanessa Radnidge, and Alice Wood of Hachette’s marketing team on the themes of her novel and the making of a bestseller. Hosted by NSW Writers’ Centre board chair Linda Funnell.

Antarctica – 24 July

He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.’

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Antarctica is an enduring source of inspiration for writers and artists, with its bleak, alien landscapes and its utter remoteness from the developed world. This Thursday 24 July, the NSW Writers’ Centre presents the latest in our ‘Talking Writing’ series, featuring a discussion between authors who have used Antarctica as the setting for their work. The evening runs from 6:30pm-8pm and wine and cheese will be served.

We will be joined by crime writer L.A. Larkin, author of Antarctica-based thriller Thirst. She will talk about bringing words to life in an alien environment. Travel writer David McGonigal will talk about his book Antarctica – The Complete Story, as well as his more than 100 visits to the frozen continent. Also joining us will be painter, photographer, architect, and author Alasdair McGregor, who will discuss his photography and various books on Antarctica.

Members of the NSW Writers’ Centre can attend this event for free. If you would like to attend, please RSVP here. If you are not a member, you can purchase a ticket for $10 here.


Crime-thriller author, L.A. Larkin, has been likened to Michael Crichton and John Grisham. Her debut novel, The Genesis Flaw, was nominated for four crime fiction awards. Thirst was one of the best crime fiction books of 2012 (Readings) and has been nominated for a Davitt and a Ned Kelly Award. The author goes to extremes to research her stories: to write Thirst she went to Antarctica, learned about Polar survival, explosives, and how to sew up a wound. Larkin writes fast-paced, high-stakes stories that tap into the fears of our time. She lives in Sydney and is currently working on a crime fiction series, as well as her next thriller.

David McGonigal’s enduring enthusiasm for Antarctica has led to a long list of achievements. He is the co-author of the definitive Antarctica – the Complete Story and the smaller Antarctica – The Blue Continent as well as the more-recent Antarctica – Secrets of the Southern Continent. He has contributed articles on Antarctica and the Arctic to newspapers and magazines around the world and his photographs have been exhibited worldwide. He has visited Antarctica every year since 1995 and has participated in more than 100 polar voyages, leading many of them.

Painter, photographer and architect, Alasdair McGregor is the author of a number of books including: The Kimberley: Horizons of Stone, Australia’s Wild Islands (both with Quentin Chester), Mawson’s Huts: An Antarctic Expedition Journal, Frank Hurley: A Photographer’s Life and Grand Obsessions: The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Grand Obsessions won the 2011 National Biography Award. He was artist and photographer for three AAP Mawson’s Huts Foundation expeditions to Antarctica, and in 2000 was curator (for the Australian High Commission to Canada) of ‘ . . . that sweep of splendour’: A Century of Australians in Antarctica, a travelling exhibition featuring the photography of Frank Hurley. Alasdair is also the editor of Antarctica: Collected Writings. His latest book, A Forger’s Progress: The Life of Francis Greenway, will be published in November. Alasdair McGregor lives in Sydney.

July – December Program Launch

Join us at Berkelouw Paddington on Thursday 12 June, from 6:30pm-8:30pm, for the launch of the NSW Writers’ Centre July-December Course Program and a lively Genre Debate.

Some of our favourite writers and NSWWC tutors will square off over their respective genres.

David Henley and Malla Nunn will debate social commentary in sci-fi and crime – which genre does it better? Miles Merrill and Fiona Wright will debate: is poetry on the page more powerful than poetry on the stage? Find out as you help us celebrate the launch of our new program.

Drinks will be provided by our wine sponsor Bibliotheque and there will be a great selection of lucky door prizes, including books by some of our debaters and a poetry prize pack courtesy of Giramondo Publishing.

Making A Killing: Australian Crime Writing


Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.
- Shakespeare

Join us on Tuesday 29 April for the latest night in our Talking Writing event series.

We’ll hear from four accomplished crime writers on the night. Wendy James is the author of six books and won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Fiction. Former detective turned fiction writer P.M. Newton has met many people on the worst days of their lives, and has just released her latest novel, Beams Falling, to great acclaim. The former Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Police, Clive Small, has written several works of true crime, including the soon to be released Milat. Peter Doyle has written both fiction and non-fiction, and was the curator behind the wildly successful Justice & Police Museum’s ‘Crimes of Passion’ and ‘City of Shadows’ exhibitions.

We’ll cover a range of topics, including what a law enforcement background can bring to writing, how to grapple with horrific behaviours of criminals real or imagined, and what Australian crime has that makes it stand out from the pack.

Talking Writing and Drawing Stories

Illustration by Bailey Sharp

Join us on Thursday 13 February for the first Talking Writing of 2014. We’ll be discussing graphic novels, comics and illustrated narratives with Chewie Chan, Comics Consultant for Kinokuniya Bookstore, Stephen Ford, Promotions and Community Manager at Kings Comics, and Bailey Sharp, a cartoonist from Atlanta, Georgia. Wine and cheese will be served from 6.30pm, with the discussion kicking off promptly at 6.45.

W. Chew ‘Chewie’ Chan has storyboarded movies like the Academy Award winning Happy Feet and Superman Returns and drawn such comic books and characters like Iron Man, The Phantom and Cthulhu Tales. As graphic novels supervisor at Dr D Studios, Chewie worked on director George Miller’s (Mad Max, Babe) first ever Graphic Novel and was the comics consultant on Warner Bros’ highly anticipated but ultimately aborted Justice League: Mortal. Chewie is the Comics Consultant for the Kinokuniya Bookstores, lectures at the UTS Master of Animation and writes for Books+Publishing Magazine.

Bailey Sharp is a cartoonist from Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies, she is currently in Sydney studying animation at UTS. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Lifted Brow and Seizure, as well as in the Irene comic anthologies. She is currently directing a music video for the band Dog Trumpet and co-editing Psychotherapy, an American and Australian comics anthology.

Stephen Ford has been working in varying aspects of the Australian direct market comic book retail industry for nearly 28 years, with specialty stores including Comic Kingdom, The Phantom Zone, KINGS Comics and Comics Etc.  In the late 1990s he was Promotions Manager for OzCon, Australia’s Premier Comic Book Convention, which helped broaden awareness of comics to the general public. He is currently the marketing and promotions manager at KINGS Comics, Sydney’s largest comic book specialty store and continues to be a strong advocate the potential and diversity of comics & graphic novels as an engagement medium, especially for younger readers.

Monsters Under the Bed: Baddies & Villains in Kids & YA Fiction

Join us on Thursday 24 October at 6.30pm for a Talking Writing panel on monsters, baddies and villains in kids and YA fiction.

Were you ever too scared to sleep after reading something petrifying as a child? Perhaps it was the wicked Banksia Men who unsettled you, or the thought of being tangled up in Shelob’s web that made you quake. Monsters feature heavily in books for children and young adults, be they folkloric classics like the goblin and the redcap, or more modern inventions like Miss Trunchbull and Dolores Umbridge.

Join Kate Forsyth, Matt Finch and Nyssa Harkness for a discussion about baddies, monsters and villains in kids and YA fiction. How scary is too scary? Why do we need monsters and baddies in books for kids anyway? What’s up with sexy baddies and sympathetic villains?

Kate Forsyth is the internationally bestselling author of more than twenty books, including The Witches of Eileanan and Rhiannon’s Ride series for adults, and The Puzzle Ring, The Gypsy Crown, and The Starthorn Tree for children. Her books have been published in 13 different countries, including Japan, Poland, Spain and Turkey, and she is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology.

Matt Finch is a British writer who has taught and told stories for people of all ages in locations including the mountains of Peru, the streets of Brooklyn, and Shakespeare’s birthplace. His wayward career stretches from creating live action zombie roleplay adventures to curating a burlesque festival for Australasia’s largest public library system.

Nyssa Harkness is a Masters of Research student at Macquarie University who specialises in genre fiction, gaming and the creative society.  She is currently researching the role of the romantic zombie in Young Adult fictions.

From Banjo P to Slam MCs: The Poetics of Australian Rap

Join us on Thursday 26 September at 6.30pm for a Talking Writing panel on the poetics of rap and the craft of rhyme in Australia.

This event will explore how rappers, rhymers, poets and slammers use words and make meaning within their genre. We will be joined by three speakers who each bring a wealth of experience and a passion for rhyme.

Tim Levinson, also known as Urthboy, manages the influential Sydney record label Elefant Traks, fronts local hip hop group The Herd, and recently appeared at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian rapper, writer and poet from Queanbeyan who has won the Australian Poetry Slam and has appeared at the influential TEDx Sydney conference.

Miles Merrill is the creative director of Word Travels, and the man responsible for introducing poetry slams to Australia. He has toured the world as a writer and performer, and hails from Chicago.


Talking Writing: Seeing Stories – Thursday 22 August 2013

Join us on Thursday 22 August at 6.30pm for a Talking Writing panel on the stories to be found – and made up – from found photographs, historical snapshots and collected visual media.

This event will explore the visual and its place in creating fictions, building memories and mapping histories. We will be joined by writer and storyteller Clare Testoni, who has created fictional tales in response to photographs housed in the collections of the State Library of NSW, and Marrickville Library‘s Local Studies Officer Michael Adams who uses visual media to assist patrons researching personal histories and writing memoirs.

The panel will be chaired by Macquarie University History Lecturer, Nick Irving, whose PhD in Australian History has provided fertile ground for storytelling through photographs of the anti-war movement.

As a special feature for the evening, photographer Brendon Kearns will display a range of found photographs (such as the above) that he has collected from deceased estate sales and antique shops. What stories are yet to be written about those faces? And what histories may they shine light onto?

Talking Writing & Storytelling – Guest Programmed by Now Hear This: Thursday 25 July 2013

Join us on Thursday 25 July for a special Talking Writing panel on Storytelling, guest programmed by Now Hear This.

Storytelling.  Once thought of as a dying art, it seems we can’t get enough of it at the moment in Sydney.  Live storytelling events pull full rooms of enthusiastic storytellers & listeners.  What is it about storytelling that gives us so much joy?  Stories can now be told in endless forms: books, film, art, animation, radio, immersive multimedia experiences and more. But the simple art of telling a cracking tale, live and unscripted, continues to delight and entertain us. Why is this so? We’ll explore all this and more at the next Talking Writing evening.  Come along with your questions and join in the discussion.

With special guest panelists:

Sheila Pham
Sheila Pham’s articles and personal essays have appeared in a wide range of websites and magazines, including The Big Issue Australia and Kill Your Darlings. Her radio play ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to New Delhi’ was performed and broadcast at the Sydney Fringe Festival 2012. She’s a producer of Now Hear This Storytelling Slam in Sydney and was a storyteller in Performance 4a’s production ‘Stories Then and Now’, which ran at Carriageworks as an umbrella event of the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013.

Ben Jenkins
Ben Jenkins is a writer and comedian. As well as his own blog, Ben is a contributor to The Vine and The Daily Life. He has worked for The Chaser on The Hamster Wheel and The Checkout. Ben co-founded comedy outfit, Project 52, which has produced over 250 comedy shows since 2008. Ben is a regular in Sydney’s comedy scene and has created shows for the Sydney Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Ben is co-creator of the live storytelling event, Story Club.

Belinda Lopez
Belinda Lopez is Executive Producer for ‘All the Best’ on FBi Radio. She’s a Sydney native, but arrived at ‘All the Best’ via Asia, South America and finally Europe, where she was an award-winning staff producer on ‘The State We’re In’, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide. She keeps herself busy with documentaries, writing, storytelling and journalism. Her downtime is spent —ideally— outdoors, not crouching over a computer screen.

Modern Memoir : Tuesday 18 June 2013

The June Talking Writing event was an in-conversation event between memoir writer Jo Case and bloggers Zoey Martin and Eden Riley. Case’s memoir Boomer and Me is her story of motherhood and her son’s Asperger’s. Martin’s blog is her story told through words and pictures. She is also the editorial director at The Shake which shares the stories, thoughts and insights of a collection of Australian bloggers. Riley’s blog is her story, told in the way only she can. She interviewed the Prime Minister earlier this year on her blog, and her blog about I Am Mummyblogger went viral.

Riley took out the title for the 2012 Best Australian Blogs Competition and Martin was a finalist in the 2013 competition.

Come along and find out the many options for writing your life story, and the many ways of sharing it.

Jo and Zoey will also talk about how to manage the challenges all life writers face.

  • How to master the tricky act of writing about other people in your life?
  • How much honesty is too much?
  • How do you balance sharing your story with delighting your readers?
  • How do you craft compelling narratives and characters from real life? How much poetic license is permissable?
  • Can you turn a blog into a memoir? How are the rules different?
  • Do the same writing rules apply to blogs and memoir?
  • What can memoir writing and blogging learn from each other?
  • How do you tackle emotional and complex issues in your story?

Narratives and storytelling in video games: Tuesday 16 April 2013

One of the guests, Nick Hudson, blogged about the event here.

Jump into the world of writing for video games and explore the challenges, the opportunities, and the big concepts contemporary games are tackling. Come and explore some of the innovative storytelling techniques and ethical issues games grapple with.

Video games are a billion dollar industry, and are played by millions of people all over the world. But you don’t need to be a gamer, or have even played a video game before. This event is for the game-curious, lovers of ideas and conversations who are keen to explore the vibrant, whirring world of stories in video games. We’ll be exploring the following questions, and many more:

  • What stories are best told as video games? What are the challenges of writing for video games? How does a story actually go from a writer’s head to being played by millions?
  • How does interactivity work in video games? How much control does the player actually have? How does interactivity change the way a story is told, and experienced?
  • How do video games explore philosophical concepts? What role do video games play in a wider cultural conversation and context?
  • How essential is violence to video games? How do you create high-stakes games without violence? Is a breakthrough, blockbuster game possible without violence?
  • How does playing video games effect the way we approach stories, and the world? Do we have different approaches to moral decisions in games than we do in real life? What are the storytelling potentials of experiencing a text that causes you to decide using two slightly moral codes?

This event is an in-conversation style panel Darren Wells and Daniel Wilks, facilitated by NSWWC team member Rose Powell. Darren has been a games journalist for over a decade and is currently the editor of Xbox Magazine. Daniel is the editor of Hyper Magazine, Australia’s longest-running independently owned videogames magazine.


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