Sydney Writers Festival – 14 May

Once again I’ll be back at the beautiful Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, this time to discuss Speculating Futures and Bending Genres with Steven Amsterdam and Kim Westwood as part of the Sydney Writers Festival. I think it will be a very interesting discussion as I feel, and from what I’ve read of Amsterdam’s and Westwood’s work, I doubt they’d disagree, that speculative fiction speaks very strongly to the present, to the concerns that we all feel right now. As William Burroughs said, ‘when you cut into the present the future leaks out.’


Program details here

City News – report on Barbara Jefferis Award, Thursday March 22

Independent Sydney newspaper City News has run a story about the Barbara Jefferis Award by Georgia Fullerton, quoting me and Anna Funder.

I said “I think they’ve been quite bold in listing my book, especially as I’m the only debut writer on the list. I have no idea why a book with ideas and imagination should not also be recognised as possessing literary craft but I can only hope that prejudice is beginning to fade”.

City News

Glamorous IWD Stella Prize Event

Do women write differently than men? Do we judge writing by women differently? Why do these questions matter right now for readers and writers? Where: The Carrington Hotel Ballroom Katoomba When: 6–7:30 pm, Thursday March 8. Cost: FREE. All welcome.

Celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8 with a feast of words and ideas from acclaimed authors Kirsten Tranter, Tara Moss and Claire Corbett, with blogger Elizabeth Lhuede, in a discussion sponsored by The Stella Prize, a new annual award for women’s writing.

Where: The Carrington Hotel Ballroom, 15-47 Katoomba Rd, Katoomba

Shortlisting for the Barbara Jefferis Prize

It is thrilling to wake up to find myself on the shortlist for the $35,000 Barbara Jefferis Prize!

It’s even more exciting to find myself in the company of some of Australia’s finest writers: Gail Jones, Gillian Mears, Georgia Blain, Anna Funder and Frank Moorhouse.

The Jefferis is a very interesting and worthwhile prize. It’s worth a look at its genesis and history here:


As you can see, the criteria focus on literary merit. The award is often thought to be a prize for women writers. It is not; men are equally eligible. It’s telling though that not that many Australian male writers focus on female characters in this way.

Literary editor of The Australian, Stephen Romei, asked in his blog “So, since the award was established, 28 writers have made the short-list, 26 of them women. That’s the sort of slant that has got the Miles Franklin in trouble in recent years. That’s why I say that the Barbara Jefferis Award is perceived as the preserve of female writers. Now, there could be several reasons for this. Perhaps publishers, who submit the books for consideration, overwhelmingly favour their female writers for this particular prize. I’m not sure and I]d be grateful for any insights you may have. I may well be missing something; it wouldn’t be the first time.”

It does seem to me that the answer is in plain sight – think of the books by male writers that have won literary prizes and attention in the last few years eg Bereft, That Deadman Dance, Rocks in the Belly, When Colts Ran etc. These focus on male characters; nothing wrong with that but does not meet criteria of award. Writer Emily Maguire noted on Twitter recently that when she teaches children, the girls write 50/50 female and male characters and the boys write 100% male characters. Seems to me that doesn’t change as much as it might when the boys grow up!

Selection Criteria

  1. Literary merit: by which we mean the applicant’s writing ability, focusing on style, appropriateness of form, skilled use of language, clarity of expression and sustained development of themes or ideas.

  2. Its success in depicting women and/or girls in a positive way or in a way that otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society. Shortlisted titles will be those whose narratives are significantly driven by or concerned with these matters.

Galactic Chat Interview

In which Sean the Bookonaut and I discuss the future of Australia, the Stella Prize and who I’d like to play Peri and Zeke in a movie of When We Have Wings and many other topics.


Listen here.