Mandy Foot’s obsession with drawing animals began when she was two, with chalk, on her grandparents’ pavement. Now as a best-selling children’s book illustrator and author of over 20 books, her canvas has evolved and her studio is shared with her joined-at-the-hip Border Collies. An Ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia, Mandy shares her passion of literacy and drawing via workshops with thousands of school students every year.
Robert Moore lives in Adelaide and is a published author of several children’s books and fiction as well as numerous poems, articles and short stories. He won the inaugural Feast Short Story Competition and was awarded a special commendation by AsthmaSA for his play Breathe Easy which was written and workshopped in conjunction with the children and staff from Para Hills Primary School.
Benjamin Johnston works as a mild-mannered architect by day but roams imaginary streets as a masked vigilante-illustrator by night. Add to this that he is also a husband and dad of two girls… and he is really looking forward to the day he might actually have enough time for everything he wants to get done. Drawing and illustrating for children have always been his passion. He is the illustrator and co-creator of the successful STEM-inspired Engibears series.
Steve Heron’s passion is to write quality kids’ books that will touch and tickle kids’ hearts and foster hope. Steve’s first series of picture books that focus on social issues were released in 2007. His first middle-grade novel Maximus was published by Serenity Press in 2018. Steve completed a Diploma of Children’s Writing and Publishing in 2015 and in 2016 received an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the social and emotional wellbeing of children. Ling Li’s Lantern is Steve’s first stand-alone picture book.
Margaret Hickey is an award-winning author and playwright from North East Victoria.
Hickey’s work has been shortlisted and won prizes in many awards, including the AAWP/ASSF Short Story Award and the Grace Marion Award. Margaret holds a PhD in Creative writing and teaches English at La Trobe University.
Margaret’s short story collection, Rural Dreams, was published by MidnightSun in October 2020.
For decades Marian Matta wrote whatever was called for, from medical articles and historical research to film scripts, but she began concentrating on the short story format in 2006 after being inspired by Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain.
Her stories have subsequently appeared in several anthologies, but Life, Bound is her first solo collection. A grandmother, history tragic, internet junkie and circus student, she lives in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges with her husband, and is pleased to call Heath Ledger her muse. Optimism is her watchword.
Marian’s collection of short stories, Life, Bound, was published by MidnightSun in October 2020.
Hannah Sommerville creates enchanting watercolour, pen and pencil drawings in her studio on the South Coast of NSW. The daughter of a ceramicist, Hannah earned a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts and Graphic Design) at the University of Wollongong in 2006. Hannah began illustrating after the arrival of her young children from whom she draws inspiration. Hannah is a storyteller, who enjoys creating picture books that capture the imagination, tenderness and playfulness that surround children and family life. Her picture book Digby & Claude, written by Emma Allen, made the CBCA 2019 Notables list.
Mike Dumbleton is an award-winning picture book writer with nine ‘Notable Books’ selected by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. His book, Muddled-up Farm, was the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year, 2004, and Cat was a CBCA Honour Book, 2008. Mike has also received a Federal Minister’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Improving Literacy for his work as an educator and a writer over an extended period of time. In his spare time, Mike enjoys reading, travelling, trying to keep fit, listening to jazz and watching sport.
Dominic Carew is a lawyer and writer from Sydney. He has practised law in Sydney, London, Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands in leading global law firms and financial institutions. He has an MA in Creative Writing from UTS, for which he received an Outstanding Student Award. Dominic has won or been shortlisted for many major short story awards, including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
No Neat Endings is Dominic’s first collection of stories.
Nean McKenzie is a children’s writer and optometrist who lives in western Melbourne with her husband and two teenage children. Originally from Bendigo, Nean lived in New Zealand, Europe and North East Africa before returning to Victoria. She lives with her family and a cat called Lemonade who purrs, even when nervous.
Nean’s first novel Cryptosight came out in 2019. She was awarded a Maurice Saxby mentorship for this story in 2017. Her second published book Xenoflight is a companion novel to Cryptosight, set in the same world but with different characters. Nean has a diploma in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT and writes regular children’s book reviews for Buzzwords Books magazine. Continue reading Nean McKenzie
Following a law degree and qualifying as a chartered accountant, Beverley McWilliams worked in corporate tax before running her own consultancy business. But she decided life was too short for facts and figures, and she ditched the rat race to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Now Beverley happily spends her days surrounded by books: writing, reading, pondering and eating way too much chocolate.
Beverley publishes work in children’s magazines and particularly enjoys writing historical non-fiction. Beverley’s debut picture book Born to Fly was published by MidnightSun mid-2019.
Beverley lives in Adelaide with her husband, four children and a menagerie of pets, who provide endless inspiration.
Amber Moffat is a writer and visual artist based in Western Australia. She believes that being able to share stories is the most magnificent thing about being human. Amber is originally from New Zealand and still has strong ties to her hometown of Dunedin. She is an experienced teacher and a fierce advocate for arts education.
At the end of 2015 Amber was awarded an Emerging Writers’ Mentorship by the Australian Society of Authors. The judges said of her work, “This picture book text was absolutely wonderful – lyrical, evocative, poetic, and quite unusual. It had a really unique voice, and the imagery was very striking.”
Amber was the recipient of a Paper Bird Fellowship in 2018, and she completed the final artwork for her debut picture book, I Would Dangle the Moon, during her residency at Fremantle’s Paper Bird Books and Arts.
Rachel Hennessy is the award-winning author of two novels of contemporary fiction: The Quakers (Wakefield Press, 2008) and The Heaven I Swallowed (Wakefield Press, 2013). Her first novel, about a group of obsessive teenagers, was described by John Birmingham as ‘un-put-down-able’ and was the winner of the Adelaide Festival’s Best Unpublished Manuscript Award. Her second novel was Runner Up in the Australian/Vogel Award, long-listed for the Nita B Kibble Award and described by Australian Aboriginal Studies as ‘an important book’. Rachel lives in Melbourne with her partner and their two young daughters.
After completing her BA and PhD in literature at UWA, Fiona Burrows is now focusing on her first love, children’s picture books. She has had work published in journals including the Australian Poetry Journal, Writ Review and Westerly, exhibited in local galleries, and won awards and commendations including the Town of Mosman Park’s Open Art Prize, the CYA Writing and Illustrating Competition, and the ASA’s Ray Koppe Young Writers’ Residency.
Samantha Tidy is a writer of children’s, young adult and adult fiction. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and is the author of Cappuccino Diva, The Blue Polar Bear and The Flying Dream. Her most recent novel for adults, The Happiness Jar, won the ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Fiction, among several other award nominations.
Samantha’s picture book, The Day We Built the Bridge, was published by MidnightSun in February 2019.