Melbourne Writers Festival



I’m excited this year to have been invited back to MWF to chair some panels. There are so many great sessions in both the schools and general programs, so when I’m not chairing, I’ll be getting my book on at something. Hope to see you, if not at one of the following, around the festival somewhere!

Tuesday 26th August

11.15  ACMI Cinema 2 “Cover Versions”

Let’s be honest, sometimes we do judge a book by it’s cover. Tony Palmer and Bruno Herfst take us through the design process, with some insider tips on how to design your own cover.

12.30  ACMI Cinema 1 “Love In the First Degree”

Fiona Wood and Will Kostakis have successfully captured the highs and lows of love in their books Wildlife and The First Third. I chat to them about love in its many forms, why it’s so exciting to read and write about, and keeping it real.

Wednesday 27th August

11.15  ACMI The Cube “Girl’s Books/ Boy’s Books”  

In this Stella Prize supported session Kirsty Murray, Myke Bartlett and I will be getting down to the nitty gritty of why we still get fed lines like ‘books for girls’ or ‘books for boys’. Is there and should be such a thing? Bring your reading habits to the conversation.

Thursday 28th August

10.00  Deakin Edge “Changing Places”

Reading can act as a security blanket when everything around us is changing. In Jen Storer’s Crystal Bay and Ellie Marney’s Every series, the characters undergo major upheaval in their lives. How do we cope with life’s challenges through books like these?

Radio National

So blog, it’s been a while since we’ve talked. I visited Italy! And my tiny baby is big enough to run around the house. Mayhem!

Anyway, 2014 has seen me join the Radio National Crew every couple of months to chat about YA. I’m pretty excited to be doing this, not only because it means that I get to talk about books and address my fear of hearing my own voice all at the same time.

So if you care to have a listen check out the podcasts under my links. And I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of the books I discuss!

More feedback!

People this year have been so lovely, making my visits to schools and libraries particularly enjoyable. A recent trip up to Geelong (I wish I’d had more time so I could have spent the day, as it was lovely and sunny on the drive up and the beach looked especially appealing) saw me speak to the SLAV branch up there and I received this lovely feedback via Booked Out.

In recent years our literary has been an informal drinks function and this format has proved to be very successful. In 2012 instead of having an author promote their books, our committee decided to celebrate Australia’s National Year of Reading by inviting Bec to talk about the latest trends in young adolescent fiction. Feedback from the event has again been overwhelmingly positive!

Bec was so easy to listen to and the time literally flew. She clearly demonstrated her knowledge and enthusiasm for YA literature.

It was such a lovely evening up there and even nicer to come home to something like this!

Book Week

August is the month of Book Week, and most writers or speakers on the schools circuit will know that its the busiest time of year, when you spend more time in your car staring helplessly at the map and praying you’ll arrive on time/not forget anything/not look like a total idiot in front of a room full of teenagers than writing, working or anything else.

Last year my August was fairly quiet, as I was still fairly new to the whole speaker thing. This year I’d like to think that I’ve got it down more. I’ve got a range of presentations and a little kit I take along, and I’m fairly sure that the room full of teenagers was laughing at my joke not my hair.

Anyway, this year has been quite busy with appearances, with the Penguin PD earlier in the year and other scatterings of meetings and talks throughout, and August was certainly flat out. Thanks to the schools who hosted me, I had an absolutely lovely time, and it was wonderful to hear people’s lovely feedback over at Booked Out (which I’ve reposted here in full).

My sincere thanks to all who helped in the selection and arrangements for Bec to join us on Friday for PD. I found the information about the genre of Young Adult Fiction and Reluctant Readers succinct, helpful and very relevant to the classroom issues I face in Year 10 in particular.

Further her wealth of knowledge about books to read in certain genres and as ways to understand the crossovers in Young Adult fiction was a welcome road map to an area which is developing so quickly. I left with at least two dozen titles to go away and read which could help me either advise or engage in reading discussions with students.

It is such a blessing to have not one but two PD sessions which hit the mark and leave you feeling like your time was well spent and you really are ‘Professionally Developed’ because of the experience.

Many thanks to all, including Bec for the valuable presentations on Friday.

Bronwen Auty, teacher, Padua College


Bec spoke to the Year 9 students. She was natural, speaking as though she was having a chat with a group of friends. Her talk was full of pertinent advice related to her own experiences as a reader and reviewer and the students appreciated that. Their feedback about her the next day was very positive “I thought Bec spoke really well. She included a lot of humour. Nothing she said got boring. I found myself always engaged when she spoke. She included a lot of great advice for people who are passionate about writing. ” Steph  

-Jan Wilson, librarian, St Leonards


So I mentioned earlier this week that I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in the Kill Your Darlings Young Adult Challenge. This is pretty great for the following reasons.

  • Kill Your Darlings is great
  • Young Adult Fiction (particularly Australian YA fiction) is great
  • The book I got to champion is more than great

As you may have guessed, the book that I’m going to be championing is Came Back to Show You I Could Fly by Robin Klein, author of some of my other childhood faves such as People Might Hear You, Boss of the Pool and of course, Hating Alison Ashley (most recently mauled on film by certain Aussie popstars). I’ll save all my raving for the post (due to be published on Killings next week) but needless to say, I’m a BIG fan.

If you’re around on Tuesday morning, you can also hear myself, Andrew McDonald and Kate O’Donnell talk about the championship and our chosen titles on Radio National.

This is sure to be a feisty battle for the championship title, with some great contributors and very worthy titles. And the best part is that you have the chance to pick your favourite, or champion another book if there’s one you loved that didn’t make it to the list! There’s also three great book prize packs up for the grabs, just in case you need even more incentive to take part.

So what are you still here for? Get yourself over to Killings and join the conversation!

PS. Reviews coming over the weekend.

Penguin PD

I’ll be appearing at an upcoming Penguin PD at the Wheeler Centre on the 21st of March. More details will no doubt appear soon on their website but it looks set to be a good day, with authors Robert Newton and Alison Lloyd also appearing and several education consultants (including myself) talking about various bookish things.

I’ll be gabbing about dystopian fiction – one of my favourite things, so if you’re a secondary teacher in Victoria keep and eye out for details on this event.