Alan Close has been writing for over forty years, during which time he has published fiction, poetry, short stories and creative non-fiction. He has written widely in the national print media, including a column on men and relationships for Good Weekend magazine.
His most recent book is Before You Met Me: A Memoir Of One Man’s Troubled Search For Love. He edited the anthology Men Love Sex, which remains a benchmark of men writing about love, sex and relationships. He lives in Mullumbimby and earns a living working on other people’s manuscripts and as a writing mentor and teacher, both face to face and online.
One of Australia’s premier performance poets David Hallett has been writing and performing since the 1970s. Winner of the 2019 Reciter of the Year Award and twice winner of the Poetry Olympics at the Sydney Writers Festival, David has taken his poetry from outback schools and festivals to the Sydney Opera House to the beat cafes of New York.
Coming from a background in theatre, street theatre, radio and music David produced his first poetry show in 1978, and he has hosted two of Australia’s longest running spoken word events for 30 years: Lismore’s Live Poets and Byron Bay’s Writers at the Rails. David has published five collections of poetry, and Out of the Blue, published in 2020, is his first collection of performance poems in ten years.
David’s imageful poetry jumps from page to stage, from comedic to satiric, to deadly serious social commentary on the spin of politics, media, climate chaos, love, shopping and our maddening digital world.
Matthew Evans is a food writer, farmer, television broadcaster and chef. Based in Southern Tasmania, Matthew lives and works on Fat Pig Farm, a mixed holding where he tends a garden, makes cider, fattens the namesake pigs and tries to entice milk from two full cream dairy cows for his onsite restaurant.
Matthew’s personal farming journey has been the focus of six series of Gourmet Farmer on SBS, and he’s presented two documentaries, For The Love of Meat, and What’s The Catch. Matthew is the author of over a dozen books on food, including the authoritative ethical meat manifesto On Eating Meat, and his latest cookbook The Commons.
He’s an advocate for open, fair, accountable food and farming systems, and has pushed for honest labelling so we can all enjoy sustainable seafood.
His most recent book SOIL is a hymn to the remarkable, and underappreciated bit of Earth that gifts us life. It’s a swashbuckling tale of soil that arms us all with the knowledge and respect to care about its health.
A. C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Founder and Principal of New College of the Humanities at Northeastern University, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. He is the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian, the Times, and Prospect magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3 and the World Service, for which he did the annual ‘Exchanges at the Frontier’ series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2014 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of Humanists UK, Patron of the Defence Humanists, Honorary Associate of the Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying. His latest book is For the Good of the World.
Jennifer Byrne is a senior journalist and broadcaster who has worked in all arms of the media: print, radio and television.
Having done her cadetship at the Age and worked on UK’s Fleet Street, she was a founding reporter with Channel Nine’s Sunday programme and spent some 12 years traveling the world for 60 Minutes and as anchor for Foreign Correspondent. She was publishing director of Reed Books, morning presenter on ABC radio, won national awards as interviewer and columnist for the Bulletin and, in May 2006, returned to TV to create the country’s first televised Book Club, which ran on the ABC for 11 years until December 2019.
Alongside books, Jennifer’s favourite pastime – far too serious to be called a hobby – has since the age of two been the playing of games. Including quizzes, cards, board games, and crosswords (physical and electronic). To be invited to become the first Australian host of Mastermind – a show she grew up watching, of course – is the realisation of a dream she didn’t know she had. Jennifer hosted series two of Mastermind plus Celebrity Mastermind in 2020.
Dr. Bronwyn Bancroft is a proud Bundjalung woman and artist. Bronwyn started creating from the age of 7, growing up in Tenterfield, Northern NSW. Her professional career as an artist began following her graduation from the Canberra School of Arts in 1980.
Bronwyn’s career has included both national and international exhibitions. Her work has been acquired by all major Australian galleries and collections.
Bronwyn’s contribution to Indigenous literature has been immense and has included the publication of 43 books. Bronwyn recently collaborated with her daughter, Ella Bancroft, on a book for children titled “Sun and Moon”.
Bronwyn is a Founding Member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. She has been the Co-operative’s volunteer senior strategist since 2009. Bronwyn also offers her extensive expertise as a Director of AIME, Australian Society of Authors, and the Commonwealth Bank Indigenous Advisory Council.
Bronwyn has a Diploma of Visual Arts from Canberra School of Art , 2 Masters degrees (Studio Practice and Visual Art) and a PhD from the University of Sydney.
Bronwyn received the University of Sydney’s Alison Bush Graduate Medal for her contribution to the Indigenous Community and is currently a recipient of the NSW Aboriginal Creative Fellowship at the State Library of NSW.
Jeff Sparrow is a writer, editor, broadcaster and Walkley award-winning journalist.
He is a columnist for The Guardian Australia, a former Breakfaster at Melbourne’s 3RRR, and a past editor of Overland literary journal. His most recent books are Crimes Against Nature: Capitalism and Global Heating (2021), Fascists Among Us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre, Trigger Warnings: Political Correctness and the Rise of the Right (2018) and No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson (2017). Jeff is the author of Killing: Misadventures in Violence (2009) and Communism: A Love Story (2007). He is the co-author, with Jill Sparrow, of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History (2001) and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within (2004) and the co-editor, with Anthony Loewenstein, of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left (2012).
He lectures at the Centre for Advancing Journalism in the University of Melbourne.
Professor Julianne Schultz AM FAHA is the publisher and founding editor of Griffith Review and Professor of Media and Culture in of the Griffith University Centre for Social and Cultural Research. She is a non executive director of The Conversation and chairs its Editorial Advisory Board.
She is an acclaimed author of several books, including Reviving the Fourth Estate (Cambridge) and Steel City Blues (Penguin), and the librettos to the award-winning operas Black River and Going Into Shadows.
She became a Member of the Order of Australia for services to journalism and the community in 2009 and an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities the following year. She is a thought leader on media and culture and an accomplished public speaker and facilitator.
She has served on the board of directors of the ABC, Grattan Institute and Copyright Agency, and chaired the Australian Film TV and Radio School, Queensland Design Council and National Cultural Policy Reference Group and is a member of advisory boards with a particular focus on education, journalism, innovation and culture.
Her new book, Idea of Australia: The Search for the Soul of the Nation (Allen & Unwin) will be published in January 2021.
Comedian, Author, Journalist, MC, Keynote Speaker, Humour Therapist & Educator: Mandy Nolan is a true renaissance woman and in the 2022 Federal election as Greens Candidate for Richmond she broke Antony Green’s model…and missed out by a whisker.
Nolan kicked off her comedy career supporting her heroes Whoopi Goldberg and Ertha Kitt and recently spied Ruby Wax laughing in the front row of her country hall gig. Wax later congratulated Nolan on being ‘hysterically funny.’
Moving to Byron Bay in the mid 90’s Nolan pioneered a thriving comedy scene growing seven regular comedy rooms and two comedy festivals in the region. Building industry from the ground up, Mandy has taught over 2000 people stand up comedy…including the Emmy Award winning Hannah Gadsby!
Her love of innovation saw her create Stand UP for Dementia a peer reviewed humour therapy for people with Dementia, the subject of her TEDx talk. She has also created comedy programs for people with lived experience of mental illness, people with disabilities and children. She currently presents Authentic You with Dr George Catsi – a Masterclass that hones narrative and powerful presentation for people wanting to improve their speaking.
As a comedian, along with Ellen Briggs she is one half of the national touring show Women Like Us. Garnering 5 star reviews at Adelaide Fringe Festival, a spot at Melbourne Town Hall for the International Melbourne Comedy Festival Upfront Gala the comedy team released their memoir collaboration of the same name: Women Like Us and continue to break new ground with their well loved show.
Mandy’s popular weekly column ‘Soapbox’ showcases polarising opinion pieces which are often the catalyst of conversation and debate, shining a fresh perspective on topical issues.
Mandy is also the host of International Award winning podcast The Split – produced by Mamamia – she is also one of their most in demand writers. She also writes opinion for The Sydney Morning Herald.
She has published 5 books and had Sydney Morning Herald’s Bruce Elder declare her ‘the country’s sharpest and wittiest comedic columnist’.
Oh, and by the way, Nolan is also the mother of 5 children, who she credits as the true source of her creativity. ‘When I had kids, everything else looked easy!’
Phillipa McGuinness is the author of Skin Deep: the inside story of our outer selves (Vintage 2022). Her previous book, The Year Everything Changed: 2001, published by Vintage in 2018, was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards and the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. She edited Copyfight, published by NewSouth in 2015. Phillipa has written for The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Inside Story and The Weekend Australian Magazine. A long-time non-fiction book publisher, she is currently editor of Openbook, the magazine of the State Library of NSW. She lives in Sydney.
Kate McClymont is an investigative journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. She is a nine-time winner of journalism’s most prestigious award, the Walkley, including the Gold Walkley for her coverage of the Bulldogs salary cap rorts.
She was named the 2012 NSW Journalist of the year for her investigations into the fraudulent activities of Michael Williamson, the head of the Health Services Union and the business activities of former NSW Labor minister, Eddie Obeid.
McClymont is also the recipient of numerous other awards including eight Kennedy Awards, the Australian Shareholders’ Association award for excellence in financial reporting (1992), The NSW’s Law Society’s Golden Quill award for excellence in legal reporting (1990 and 1992), Australian Racing Writer of the Year (1995), Australian Sports Commission Media Award (2002). She also won the 2012 George Munster Award for Independent Journalism.
With her colleague Linton Besser, she has published He Who Must Be Obeid, which chronicles corruption in NSW.
Her second book Dead Man Walking detailed the murder of Michael McGurk and other murky dealings of colourful Sydney business identities.
In 2020 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to the print media and to investigative journalism.
Zanni Louise has been writing stories since she was little, growing up in country NSW. She now lives with her family of four in the Byron Bay hinterland.
Author of over twenty-five kids’ books, including bestselling picture book series Human- Kind (Five Mile) and Errol (Scholastic), Zanni has been long-listed for CBCA Awards and short-listed for the Australian Book Design Awards, Australian Book Design Awards and Speech Pathology Award. Persistence (Five Mile) was highly commended in the Australian Education Publishing Awards and Human-Kind was voted best picture book series by Bookstagang. Archie and the Bear (Little Hare) was chosen for the International White Ravens catalogue. Zanni’s books are published in over twenty foreign territories.
Zanni runs a picture book course online with Anna Pignataro each year. She also teaches picture books and chapter books at the Australian Writers Centre, offers private mentoring, and travels to schools and festivals across Australia, helping creatives achieve their writing dreams.
Zanni’s literary works are represented by LK Literary Agency and her speaking and workshops can be booked through Speakers Ink. She is proud to be an author ambassador for Room To Read, an organisation helping to educate children.
Debbie Lee is Senior Manager, Content Acquisition and Business Development, Ingram Content Group. Formerly an Academic Publisher, she now assists publishers of all shapes and sizes, from indie authors, to small presses and multinationals, with their print on demand, ebook and global distribution needs.
Zacharey Jane is a writer, teacher and artist. In her career she has been a singer, go go dancer, hansom cab driver, nanny, barista, scuba diver, horse trainer, film technician, scenic artist, interior stylist and fashionista, among other occupations.
She is tour manager and MC for Writers on the Road, the Byron Writers Festival regional tour. Zacharey is the author of two works of fiction and sundry short stories and articles.
Chloe Hooper’s first novel A Child’s Book of True Crime was shortlisted for the UK’s Orange Prize and she has since written two acclaimed works of non-fiction about contemporary Australia. The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island won the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian Premier’s Awards. The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire details a deliberately lit fire on Victoria’s Black Saturday, and, as Jeff Sparrow wrote, “demonstrates why literature still matters”. Bedtime Story is her most recent book.
Jess is a Walkley-award winning investigative journalist who’s been reporting on domestic abuse for several years. Prior to this, she was a Middle East correspondent, and worked as both a producer and reporter for various programs across the ABC, including AM, PM, The World Today, and Background Briefing.
In 2019, she published her first book, See What You Made Me Do, about the phenomenon of domestic abuse in Australia. It was awarded the 2020 Stella Prize, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the Walkley Book Award and the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and has been adapted into a television series for SBS.
In 2021, she collaborated with the Victorian Women’s Trust to produce a podcast series on coercive control called The Trap, and published a Quarterly Essay called ‘The Reckoning: How #MeToo is Changing Australia’.
She is currently a specialist gendered violence reporter for PRIMER, and is working on a forthcoming 3-part series on Consent for SBS.
As a director Damon wrote, directed and performed vocals for the 2011 winning Tropfest short film, ANIMAL BEATBOX. THAT SUGAR FILM was Damon’s first feature length film as a director and won Best Documentary at the Australian AACTA awards and became the highest grossing Australian documentary of all time at the cinema. THAT SUGAR BOOK is his first published book and was published in 9 languages.
Damon’s next film, 2040, is an innovative feature documentary that explores what the future would look like by the year 2040 if we embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet. It was released in April 2019 and now sits in the top 4 highest grossing documentaries of all time in Australia at the cinema. Regenerating Australia is his most recent project which launched in March 2022, with a national tour of Australia. The film is accompanied with an impact campaign that includes a significant financial fund to develop and scale community solutions
Damon is a sought-after speaker and spoke at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York. Damon has also addressed numerous Governments around the world and spoken at organisations such as GOOGLE, BP, PWC, ANZ, ZURICH, ATLASSIAN, UTAH CLEAN ENERGY, MASTERCARD, CREDIT SUISSE, CBA, HESTA and many more. He was a nomination for NSW for Australian of the Year in 2020.m, in 2015. It went on to become the highest-grossing Australian documentary of all time across Australia and New Zealand.
The film has also picked up a host of awards around the world, including the AACTA award (the ‘Aussie Oscars’) for Best Documentary. The accompanying book, That Sugar Book, became a bestseller and has since been published in more than 15 countries and eight languages around the world; it was followed by That Sugar Guide in 2016.
Sara El Sayed is a writer based in Meanjin (Brisbane). Her work appears in Growing Up African in Australia (Black Inc.) and Arab-Australian-Other (Pan Macmillan), among other places. In 2020 she received a Queensland Writers Fellowship and was shortlisted for the 2020 Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. Her debut memoir Muddy People is the story of her family, having migrated from Alexandria, Egypt in the early 2000s to south-east Queensland. Muddy People explores what it means for Soos to grow up Arab-Muslim while living in a white-dominant community, and how the messiness of family shapes who she is.
Phil Brown is the Arts Editor of The Courier-Mail and has a popular column in the lifestyle magazine Brisbane News. He has written for a range of national and international newspapers and magazines and has published his poetry widely in the mainstream press and literary journals.
He is the author of two books of verse – Plastic Parables (Metro Community Press) and An Accident in the Evening (Interactive Press). His book of humorous travel stories, Travels with My Angst (UQP, 2004) was short-listed for the Arts Queensland Steele Rudd Award at the 2005 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Any Guru Will Do (UQP 2006) was the second in his memoir series.
From 1963 to 1970 he lived in Hong Kong where his father ran a construction company. His latest book, The Kowloon Kid (Transit Lounge) is a memoir of his family’s life in China and Hong Kong since the 1930s.