2017 Wrap Up

low light picture taken of a full auditorium from the stage at Melbourne Writers Festival
Packed MWF session I chaired with Danielle Binks and Diem Nguyen: probably the most fun panel of the year

This year was supposed to be my maternity leave year… how did I do keeping to my goal of not taking on any major projects? Well, let’s say I failed, but I failed well.

Linus was born November 2016, and I did manage to have almost a full 12 months without a major project. I did, however, take the opportunity to be a guest at the International Literature Showcase in Norwich, City of Literature. And then I accidentally (on purpose) fell into the perfect part-time role at the Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) at State Library Victoria.

So why did I knowingly divert from my 2017 goal? Because these two opportunities were worth it. Visiting Norwich and meeting literary programmers, producers and artists from all over the world was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I felt so fortunate to be the only Australian in attendance and learned so much in my week in Norwich. Joining CYL has been a career goal for me for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few workplaces I see doing youth-driven, engaging programming for YA lovers. The chance to deepen my YA knowledge (I’m a huge YA reader) and learn from this experienced team of programmers and producers was one I couldn’t pass up. Not to mention it happens to be the perfect part-time fit for my current life with two children.

These two things are my clear work highlights of 2017. As I wrote about earlier this year, it wasn’t a stellar year for reading. I finished up reading 50 books, which is far less than I’ve managed for quite a while. That’s what having a baby does to your hobbies! I also facilitated some really great panels at Reading Matters, Melbourne Writers’ Festival and the inaugural Feminist Writers Festival: I always feel so lucky to speak with writers whose work I love such as AS King, Lili Wilkinson, Shaun Tan, Penny Modra and Kyo Maclear.

I’m looking forward to 2018. When I joined CYL it was on a short contract until the end of the year but I’m incredibly happy to have extended that until mid 2018. I’m really enjoying the role and working with some great people. It does mean that I am unlikely to get much writing done, but as always producing brings a different kind of work pride and enjoyment. I’d like to read more books next year, too. I think that’s my only firm goal for the year professionally: read more. Always nice to set a goal you enjoy.

City of Literature ILS Trip: Edinburgh

I visited these two fine literary establishments yesterday before leaving Edinburgh. Between the laneway location, cobblestones and dumpster I felt like I could have been in Melbourne. I think the five books I left with (despite my determination not to buy more than one) are a testament to the quality of the stores.

Deadhead Comics had a great display of independent comics, from which I managed to select a pair made by local artists.

Lighthouse Books (formerly Word Power Books) is a really special find, beautifully curated stock with easily the best selection of politics and non-fiction I’ve seen in the U.K.

Had a lovely chat to the owner about our sister cities of literature (she has visited Melbourne and been caught in the Readings trap!) and some of the Australian gems I had noticed on her shelves: Judy Horacek’s Women of Altitude prints on mugs and one of my favourite kids books, Introducing Teddy.

It was a perfect way to end my time in Edinburgh. Off to Glasgow next.

May/June 2014 Update


It’s been an incredibly busy and incredibly good time for me over the past few months. I’ve submitted a book chapter for an amazing project, done an in-conversation event with John Marsden at The Wheeler Centre, hosted a panel on women in writing at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, been asked to join in on the National Young Writers’ Festival fun later this year and been accepted to the European Festivals Association Atelier.

I’m particularly stoked to be going to NYWF this year. My years directing the National Student and Emerging Media Conference (before VSU put an end to it) were some of the most formative for me. They were a baptism of fire in how to program literary/media events and put me in touch with a network of peers that I still work with to this day. I’ve gone back to This is Not Art a few times as an audience member, and a few times to host or facilitate panels for either Cracked or NYWF, but this year it will be even more wonderful to return and help out any way I can as two women I admire greatly — Alex Neill and Jess Alice — are at the helm. I’ve worked with Alex over many years, including one year where she took on the role of Editor at The Pun (the first and only time I’ve ever had a publicist ring me to rave over how wonderful one of our editors was… she’s that awesome) and with Jess over the last few at Express Media. Both are shining examples of artists who also have excellent artistic direction skills. They can admin the shit out of an arts project just as well as they can creatively craft it, and I can’t wait to cheerlead from the sidelines as they create an absolutely spectacular NYWF 2014.

NYWF takes place in early October, meaning it will be a very short time after that I will head off to Poland to participate in the Atelier. In the lead up I will need to write a paper to present, and start to whittle down my wish-list of places nearby I want to visit. One non-negotiable is, of course, dropping in to visit Melbourne’s sister City of Literature, Krakow. They have some particularly wonderful initiatives which I would love to hear more about.

I’m also looking forward to seeing some results flow from the Women in Writing roundtable at EWF. You can check out my blog post about the event, but it is nice to be able to update you and let you know that we are already working towards our first event. The idea came directly from the session we held, and I can’t wait to share more about it with you.

I had a wonderful time doing our in-conversation event with John Marsden at The Wheeler Centre to launch the John Marsden Hachette Prize for Young Australian Writers. John is generous with his advice and enjoyable to talk to about all things writing. Having started reading his books as a teenager it was wonderful to talk to someone I have admired for so many years. The photo above is courtesy of Courteney Hocking, who came along and snapped from the front row.

National Young Writers’ Month has wrapped up, and this year the blog was a resource jam-packed with information and inspiration thanks to our Projects and Awards Intern Aleczander Gamboa. He really went above and beyond the call of duty. During NYWM I had a chat with 2013 Scribe Prize winner Oliver Mol, which you can check out here.

I really did think the second half of this year was going to slow down somewhat, but there are in fact more exciting possibilities on the horizon than ever before. Heading to Poland is obviously high on the list of awesomeness, and I hope I can fill you in on some of the rest soon.