Presenters and Guests

Robyn Cadwallader

Robyn lives among vineyards in the country outside Canberra, where good people, alpacas, chooks, dogs and a host of birdlife keep her company. After years teaching creative writing and English literature at Flinders University, she has moved on to focus on her first love — writing. Robyn has published a non-fiction book about virginity and female agency in the Middle Ages (2008), a poetry collection, I painted unafraid (2010), and, in response to the government’s horrific and punitive treatment of asylum seekers, edited a collection of essays addressing their policies: We Are Better Than This (2015). Her first novel, The Anchoress (2015), was published in Australia, UK, US and France and received with critical acclaim. It won a Canberra Critics Award and ACT Book of the Year People’s Choice Award; it was shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards and the Adelaide Festival Literary Awards, longlisted for the ABIA Awards and Highly Commended in the ACT Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Book of Colours (2018) also won a Canberra Critics Award, and will be released in the UK (April 2019) and the US (November 2019). Robyn is also the reviews editor for the online literary journal, Verity La.

Kerri Dickman-Selby

Kerri’s experience spans 28 years in public accounting in Canberra, more than half in her own accounting practice. For Kerri it’s not the ‘official’ side of her work that matters most: liaising with the tax office, ensuring individual and business compliance, serving on committees and panels to regulate, manage and improve the industry, although all of that is, of course, professionally rewarding. For her what really matters is the difference she is able to make in people’s lives. For some, that’s removing fear and uncertainty and worry. For others it’s removing hassle and stress and irritation and letting them get on with what they see as the ‘fun stuff’ in their businesses. Sometimes it’s about improving their numbers to create work-life balance, or boosting their family’s lifestyle or helping them realise business dreams. Whatever the positive outcome, she loves being a part of it! Outside of work she has two teenage sons, one of whom is finishing film school this year. Kerri and her partner are film buffs (though no soppy chick flicks for her!) She is also half way to a black belt in martial arts, and enjoys photography and scrapbooking.

Sara Dowse

Sara Dowse is a prizewinning writer, artist and feminist who in the 1970s headed the inaugural Office of Women’s Affairs in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.  She is sometimes referred to as Australia’s first ‘femocrat’.

Her first novel, West Block, draws on her experiences in the Australian public service. Four other novels followed: Silver City (1984), Schemetime (1990), Sapphires (1994) and Digging (1996). She has been a regular reviewer and contributor to a range of publications, most recently to the online journal Inside Story.  In 1989 she began an extensive women’s oral history archive for the National Library, consisting of interviews of participants in the second wave of Australia’s feminist movement. 

It was when Dowse was working in Prime Minister’s that she learned of her grandfather’s sister, reputedly a Soviet apparatchik, an associate of Leon Trotsky’s.  This was a woman she had never heard of before, and the stories about her proved, after much research, to have many of the essentials wrong.  Her recent novel, As The Lonely Fly, set for the most part in 1920s Palestine, is based on her great aunt’s life.  Basically it’s about the road not taken, what might have become a binational state, foreshadowing the tragic consequence of rejecting that option.

As one of the book’s many admirers has written:  ‘No recent novel has been at once as searing in its critique of political illusions but adamant about the permanence of political ideals, a form of witness all the more resonant because Dowse never forgets her characters are suffering and vulnerable and desiring creatures.’  


Ginger Gorman

Ginger Gorman is an award winning print and radio journalist based in the Australian Capital Territory.

She has a cache of producing, presenting, reporting and multi-platform skills and is an adept writer, public speaker, and mentor in journalism.

During her media career Ginger has worked for ABC Local Radio, ABC Emergency, Triple J, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Fairfax Community Newspapers. Her freelance work has been published in print and online in, The Guardian, The Age, Daily Life, Mamamia and Her Canberra.

In 2006 Ginger was the first ABC employee to win the prestigious World Press Institute Fellowship, based in the United States.

Sam Hawke

Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Sam eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Sam now resides in Canberra, Australia raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. Her debut epic fantasy, City of Lies, came out in 2018 with the sequel, Hollow Empire, due for release in 2019.

Tracey Lee

Tracey grew up in the regional city of Launceston in Tasmania, the beautiful island state in Southern Australia. After graduating from university, she started a very rewarding teaching career, which has spanned thirty-two years. She has been married to her husband, Greg, for twenty-six years and is the mother of two adult children, Ellen and Patrick. While living in Hobart, she was a founding member of a writing group called the Aphorism Club. The writers published an anthology of their work in 1999. The group and the work they explored during those years remains an important part of her development as a fiction writer. In 2005, Tracey completed a master’s in creative writing at the University of Canberra. Both her teaching and writing are influenced by an appreciation of what motivates human behaviour, what maintains equilibrium, and how we cope with the disturbances that threaten that balance. Tracey predominantly writes adult fiction that reflects on ordinary people responding to extraordinary events. In 2015, Tracey and Greg moved from Canberra to the south coast of New South Wales. The milder weather and beautiful beach environment have been most conducive to fulfilling a life’s ambition to publish further work. Tracey’s debut novel What Remains and its follow on Wither will be launched at this year’s CWWF.


Zoya Patel

Zoya Patel is a writer and editor based in Canberra. She is the Founding Editor of independent feminist journal, Feminartsy, through which she publishes the work of writers from across Australia, hosts monthly feminist reading nights, and co-hosts the Read Like a Feminist bookclub. Zoya writes fiction, non-fiction and memoir, and has had her work published in a range of publications including Junkee, Women’s Agenda,, Right Now, The Canberra Times and more. Her memoir No Country Woman was published in August 2018.

Gillian Polack 

Dr Gillian Polack is a writer, editor, scholar and teacher. Two of her novels (Ms Cellophane/Life through Cellophane and The Wizardry of Jewish Women) and her 2016 research monograph were shortlisted for awards. She has edited two anthologies (one of which, Baggage, was also shortlisted for an award). While seventeen of her short stories have bene published, this is her first collection.  One of her stories won an award and four others were listed as recommended reading on international years’ best lists. Gillian was awarded the Best Achievement Ditmar in 2010.

Gillian has taught writing, history and cultural awareness/understanding at the ANU, at various Writers’ Centres and to members of other professional writers’ organisations.

She has a PhD in Creative Writing, one in Medieval History and an array of academic publications. Until recently, she researched how writers think of history and how they use it in their fiction, and now she’s working on how other aspects of culture are encoded into novels.

She has received two writing fellowships at Varuna, several arts grants, and is in demand at SF conventions because she brings chocolate and because of her food history passion. She is one of only two Australian members of Book View Café and is also a member of The History Girls. She currently lives in Canberra, Australia, which explains everything.

Susan Steggall

Susan Steggall is a writer and an art historian with a PhD in Creative Writing allied to a Master and a Bachelor Degree in Art History and Theory. Publications include: Alpine Beach: a Family Adventure (1999); two novels, Forget Me Not (2006) and It Happened Tomorrow (2013), plus art-related articles, exhibition and book reviews, and book chapters. She has edited anthologies for the Society of Women Writers NSW Inc and was editor of the ISAA Review (the journal of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia Inc) from 2010 to 2015. She has taught courses in Approaches to Australian Art, Writing Art and Design, Audiences for Art at UNSW Art & Design. Susan finds that writing fiction with a pinch or two of art and its history added to flavour the narrative is an enduring and enjoyable challenge.

Alpine Beach: a family adventure,and its French version Sydney-en-Chablais: aventure savoyarde d’une famille australienne,recount the ten years, from September 1978, that the Steggall family (John, Susan, son Zeke and daughter Zali) left Australia to live in the Alps of south-eastern France, so beginning an extraordinarily successful relationship with wintersport competition and a lifelong love affair with Haute-Savoie, its people and places. Susan continues to visit the region regularly, in all seasons. That decade spent living in someone else’s language (French) has added to the richness of her life’s experiences. Because she has her heart, her home, in two countries she enjoys writing about these very different places.

Katie Taylor

K.J.Taylor was born in 1986, and currently holds the status of “mostly alive”. She signed her first publishing contract with Scholastic when she was just 18, having lied about her age, and since then has published sixteen other novels in multiple countries, with two foreign language translations. She once made a complete fool of herself in front of George R R Martin, and has a frighteningly large collection of rare movie soundtracks in her wardrobe.

Karen Viggers

Karen Viggers is the author of three novels: The Stranding, The Lightkeeper’s Wife and The Grass Castle with a fourth about to be released. She writes contemporary realist fiction set in Australian landscapes, and her work explores connection with the bush, grief and loss, healing in nature, death, family, marriage and friendship. Her books tackle contentious issues including choices at the end of life, whale rescue, kangaroo culling, scientific research on animals and logging of native forests.  Karen is a wildlife veterinarian who has worked and traveled in many remote parts of Australia, from Antarctica to the Kimberley. Her novels are known for their evocative portrayal of Australian people and landscapes.

Karen’s books have been translated into French, Italian, Norwegian, Slovenian and Spanish. Her work has enjoyed great success in France, selling more than 800,000 copies to date. The Lightkeeper’s Wife (La Memoire de embruns) was on the French National Bestseller list for more than 42 weeks, going as high as No. 3, and in 2016 this book won the Les Petits Mots des Libraires Prix Litteraire for a Discovery Novel (Roman Decouverte) and was also  short-listed for the Livre de Poche Readers Prize. The Stranding (La Maison des hautes falaises) and The Grass Castle (Le Murmure du vent) have also been released in France by Editions Les Escales and le Livre de Poche. Karen was a Bundanon Trust Artist-In-Residence in 2018.

Biff Ward

Biff Ward is the author of the literary memoir, In My Mother’s Hands, which was short-listed for the NSW and the WA Premier’s Prize Prize for non-fiction 2015- 2016 and long-listed for The Stella Prize 2015.  In 1984, her ground-breaking book, Father-Daughter Rape, one of the first in the world about child sexual abuse, was published in the UK and the US. It went on into several editions and was widely used as a text in the field.

In 2018, Biff won the Griffith Review novella competition with In 1974. She has been published in various anthologies. Her new memoir, The Third Chopstick, about the Vietnam War, will be published soon.

Kaaron Warren

Kaaron Warren is an Australian author of horror, science fiction, and fantasy short stories and novels. She is the author of the short story collections Through Splintered Walls, The Grinding House, and Dead Sea Fruit. Her short stories have won Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Aurealis Awards.