Maura is an award-winning Canberra-based author, playwright and filmmaker who creates across art forms for children and adults. Her acclaimed play, Fragments, has been adapted as a hybrid young adult fiction novel and award-winning web series, and is now a feature-length film touring festivals in Australia and overseas. Maura’s latest picture book, What Will You Make Today? (Storytorch Press, June 2023) invites children to explore the many ways they can make a difference in the world. Maura has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has worked as an ethicist, business owner and Editor of Australian Medicine. Maura is working on an exciting new Non Fiction work for young readers to be published in 2024.
Praise for Fragments, the play:
"Fragments…. gives audiences a multi-sensory, embodied experience of what it’s like to be a teenager in distress….. It’s an effective exploration of not quite being able to communicate effectively, and what happens when those around you can’t quite see your reality under fake smiles and photoshopped selfies…..And despite the angst, the script also contains moments of genuine humour, of wit, and of hope. "
Erin Stewart, Review in Arts Hub
Praise for Fragments: Journeys from Isolation to Connection, the book (2nd Edition):
"Fragments offers a raw, authentic glimpse into the lives and struggles of young people. The play and web series are essential experiences for any young person searching for the light at the end of their tunnel, and a literary space where they can exist as more than just a fragment."
Jade Breen, Review in Reading Time, 2023
Di Walker’s second novel Everything We Keep was published by Scholastic Australia in 2021 and shortlisted in the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2021. It is a 60,000 word length story aimed at the 11+ market, and is contemporary fiction with a strong female protagonist. Agatha has been in and out of foster care for several years, having been removed from her parents because they are hoarders. When the story begins she is about to be returned yet again to her parents. The foster carers are a retired nurse and her naval husband, who is currently away on a ship.
Agatha has a growing realisation that if she stays with her parents she will be consumed by the stuff; she sees herself becoming like her mother. As much as she loves them she knows, to survive, she needs to be away from her parents. As the story unfolds she discovers that it is through friendship and courage the struggle to both save herself and love her parents is a possibility.
Helen Edwards' debut novel for middle-grade readers, The Rebels of Mount Buffalo, an historical fiction time-slip adventure featuring Guide Alice Manfield, has been acquired by Riveted Press. She is now working on a number of other stories for this age group.
Edwards is an award-winning health and sustainability writer and advocate, and has been blogging since 2001, after founding an online counselling service for people with diabetes, which she ran for 16 years. There are over 140,000 people following her on social media where her platforms are all about inspiring action for people and planet, with kindness and hope. In particular, focusing on our children's future. She has won a number of awards for her work, including being a South Australian State Finalist for Australian of the Year and Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 2016; the bronze award winner for Sustainability in the 2018 AusMumpreneur awards; and the winner of the ZestFest short story competition in Adelaide in 2018.
Alan Sunderland is married with three sons and lives in Sydney. He is a retired, award winning journalist who now consults and writes and talks about children’s books and journalism. His latest book is The Ten Rules of Reporting.
He won a Walkley Awards for covering an attack on the Iranian Embassy in Canberra in 1992, and for a series of exclusive reports from East Timor. He has also won the prestigious Council of the Deans of Education Award for education journalism three times in two years, which constitutes something of a record. Alan is an entertaining presenter for schools and libraries. See our Speakers section and Alan's web site at www.alansunderland.com for more information.
Alan writes children’s books for 8-12 year olds. His latest novel for young readers, Six Seconds, was pubished in 2021 and is part of the Scholastic My Australian Story Series. Growing up by the beach in Newcastle in 1989 means footy, sandcastle competitions and school. Michael's dad's a journalist and his small world gets bigger as he starts to pay attention to the news. His interest turns into anxiety and obsession as Michael begins to see the world as a dangerous place that is fast collapsing around him. When the Berlin Wall comes down, most see it as a sign of change and freedom but Michael isn't convinced. But when an earthquake hits his home down, Michael discovers that the worst that can happen is not always as bad as your fears.
Wendy Orr is an internationally published and award-winning author of more than thirty books, ranging from picture books to adult ficiton. She was born in Canada, and grew up in France, Canada and USA. After high school she studied occupational therapy in England, married an Australian farmer, and moved to Australia. They had a son and daughter, and are now proud grandparents who live on five acres of bush on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. Wendy's books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.
When Wendy was nine, she wrote a story about an orphan girl living on an island. Many years later, she remembered the feeling of writing that story, and started writing Nim’s Island. In 2008 the book became the first Australian children’s book to become a Hollywood feature film. In 2020, to celebrate 21 years since the publication of the first Nim book, Allen & Unwin have published The Complete Adventures on Nim's Island, including all three Nim stories.
Jayne Lyons is married and a full time working mother, with one daughter. She was born and raised in the UK and has been living in Perth since January 2005. Jayne works for a major Australian corporation offsetting carbon emissions. She has also worked in the developing world and seen first hand the challenges faced by children there. She is passionate about children being given the opportuity to achieve their dreams. Jayne loves talking about books and writing to students and adults of all ages and is available as a speaker.
A second feature film based on her debut novel for young readers, 100% Wolf, titled 200% Wolf, is in production with screenings planned for 2024. The second TV Series, 100% Wolf: The Book of Hath, was premiered on ABC ME and ABC iview in May 2023.
Adult and children’s non-fiction author
Vicki Bennett is an author, artist, filmmaker, writing coach, and corporate trainer. She has written over 10 books and written and co-produced a documentary, Never Forget Australia. Most recently she has written a number of Picture Stroybooks introducing young readers to special stories about WWI and WWII. Vicki's latest children's book, Charlie's War, will be published by Windy Hollow in October 2023. This story is based on true events and is about a young Aboriginal boy, Charlie Bird and two friends who served in WWI. Vicki has been the curator of this narrative from Des Crump, Charlie's great nephew and Charlie's daughter and grand-daughter who support this project. The Promise (2022), was launched at the 80th Anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Milne Bay. It is based on a true story about a Papua New Guinea Nurse who saved the life of an Australian Airman. The bravery of nurse Maiogaru Taulebona was recognised when she was awarded the Royal Australia Air Force Loyalty Medal.
Young Adult Author
Robyn Bavati has taught dance and English and worked as a shiatsu therapist. She is an award winning fiction and short-story writer who grew up in Melbourne and as an adult has lived in both Australia and Israel. She is the author of four novels.
Her latest book, A Weekend with Oscar, was published by Walker books in July 2021. Sixteen-year-old Jamie lives with his mother and younger brother Oscar, who has Down syndrome. Though Jamie is still grieving the death of his father, life starts to look up when he meets Zara, the new girl at school. When their mother goes away for the weekend, Jamie volunteers to look after Oscar. But when the weekend is over and their mother doesn't return, Jamie faces the toughest challenge of his life.
"This is a moving story with many twists and turns. Each character and location is vividly created. Jamie is a sympathetic character, kind and compassionate, very easy for readers to warm to. Oscar is totally believable, not a sugar coated version of someone with a disability.
A Weekend with Oscar is an important, powerful YA novel. Highly recommended."
~ Pauline Hosking, Magpies, Vol. 36, Issue No.4, September 2021.
Children’s Author and Poet
Janine Fraser lives on Phillip Island in Victoria. She loves to travel and meet new people, and listen to their stories. She found the story of Abdullah in Malaysia, and the Sarindi stories in Indonesia.
Janine's latest book, Sarah's two Nativities was published by the Black Dog Books Imprint of Walker Books in September 2019