Nick Earls

Nick is a Brisbane-based author who has written for both YA and adult readership. With 25 years of writing and 26 books under his belt, he is currently writing and releasing at regular intervals a series of novellas (The Wisdom Tree). He is a skilled and experienced presenter and appeared at The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in August 2016.

Shivaun Plozza

Shivaun is a recently published author of popular YA novel “Frankie” and was a member of the PenguinTeenAus #YASquad who toured major centres earlier this year promoting YA literature. She also has a background in publishing and editing.

Liz Anelli

Liz draws and explores the world and her own ideas through commissions and exhibitions. Her primary passion is in creating picture storybooks, some of which she writes herself and she has been doing this for 25 years. Since relocating from England in 2012, Liz has illustrated some huge maps for Newcastle City Council, 2 ‘speed drawing’ animations, a Children’s height Chart, a couple of YA covers and 3 picture books.

Kylie Castor

Kylie is a writer, editor and workshop facilitator. Her background is in marketing, communications and events, and she has also freelanced as a consultant to small businesses in Sydney. Kylie is based in Coffs Harbour with her business The Triple Sifted Word Refinery. Recently she was contracted by the Coffs Coast Writers’ Centre to deliver the highly successful community workshop “How to Write a Great Newsletter”. Kylie hosts  One Good Thing Storytelling Circle.

Liz Brennan

A wordsmith by nature and by trade, Liz has had a diverse career working in craft and corporate publishing, corporate communications and currently arts marketing. When she’s not working, Liz loves to create. Inspired by social media, Liz set up a blog several years ago to document her creations. Her blog Sew Busy Lizzy has grown organically and she now pattern tests for independent designers, reviews books for publishing houses and blogs for Mood Fabrics in New York. From her base in Port Macquarie, she’s established a network of friends and professional contacts across the globe.

Jessica O’Callaghan

Jess produces radio and social media for ABC Radio National Drive, and The Party Room podcast. Previously, she worked as Executive producer of Fbi’s All the The Best and producer of the Rereaders podcast. Her writing and radio has appeared on the Meanjin podcast, Fbi’s Backchat, Right Now, Junkee, AWOL and Spook. She lives and works in Melbourne but still calls Port Macquarie home.

Michael Wilkie


Michael is the director of Wilkie Productions, a film production company based in Sydney, Newcastle & Port Macquarie. Michael has been awarded Young Australian Citizen of the Year in 2012, Lowepro Asia Pacific Ambassador, International Loupe Award and was shortlisted in the World Photography organisation – Photographer, amongst others.

Alice Chipkin

Alice is an emerging writer and artist originally from Sydney. She was awarded the 2015 Dwight Prize for English from the University of Melbourne for her thesis on comics and forms of queer autobiography. She is the Schools Program Producer at Express Media and a core staff member in the BLOOM Education Collective. She has presented at Girls Write Up Festivals in both Sydney and Melbourne, The Melbourne Writers Festival and has been published in The Lifted Brow, Carapace Poetry Journal and Archer Magazine. Alice has self-published zines of poetry, photography and comics and is currently working on her debut graphic novel Eyes Too Dry.

Cymbeline Buhler & Carla Billinghurst

Cymbeline and Carla have been collaborating since 2004. Most recently they’ve run sell-out writing workshops for Blue Mountains Library and launched the hugely popular online writing provocations The Dailies. Adapted from their work in theatre, The Dailies offer experiential entry points into writing and editing. Cymbeline Buhler is author of recently published 2 on Winter Melon. She is the founder of Theatre of Friendship, an ongoing peace-building theatre project in Sri Lanka (since 2006) and has been Artistic Director of Western Edge Youth Arts (Melbourne) and Backbone Youth Arts (Brisbane). Carla Billinghurst is an award-winning author; her most recent publication is Halibut, Herring & You. In the UK, she was a founding member of Gog Theatre Co, touring the UK and West Africa and a founding director of the Glastonbury International Dance Festival

Stacey Morgan

Stacey  is a passionate dance educator from Wauchope, NSW. She is the principal of Port Macquarie Performing Arts and also the host of Ask a Dancer, a podcast for aspiring dancers on iTunes. She also co-hosts Miss Bossy Boots – a podcast inspiring leadership for Women in Business, available now for immediate download on iTunes. She would love you to have a listen and get to know her a little better.

Jenna Mynott

 Jenna thrives on creativity, curiosity, and play. She is passionate about the positive impact these activities can have on mental health, wellbeing and academic achievement. Jenna’s background sees an amalgam of over a decade in the corporate sector, intertwined with various education roles including teacher, workshop facilitator, tutor and mentor. She loves finding new and unique ways of connecting young people with knowledge, and helping them discover their passions.

Willhemina Wahlin

Willhemina is a Graphic Design lecturer at CSU in Port Macquarie. She is passionate about the power of visual storytelling, and about education in visual literacy. Since 2009, she has been the Creative Director of PROOF : Media for Social Justice, a non-profit organisation based in New York that uses visual storytelling for social justice & human rights. Recently, she designed a projected exhibition, “The Rescuers” for ArtWalk in Port Macquarie.

The Stella Prize is a major literary award that celebrates Australian women’s writing and an organisation that champions cultural change

The Stella Prize seeks to:

  • recognise and celebrate Australian women writers’ contribution to literature
  • bring more readers to books by women and thus increase their sales
  • provide role models for schoolgirls and emerging female writers
  • reward one writer with a $50,000 prize – money that buys a writer some measure of financial independence and thus time, that most undervalued yet necessary commodity for women, to focus on their writing

The Stella Schools Program was launched in late 2014 and is an exciting program for girls and boys Years 7–12 offering school visits by notable Australian writers and hands-on writing workshops, as well as free educational resources.

The three panelists joining us for LitFest2444 are from left to right: Bec Shaw, Heidi Pett and Lucy Watson.

Osman Faruqi

Osman Faruqi is the News and Politics Editor at Junkee Media. He also co-hosts FBi Radio’s news and current affairs show, Backchat. Before joining Junkee, Osman wrote for The Guardian, ABC, The Australian and SBS, covering politics, current affairs and culture.

Annie Hannan Smith

Annie Hannan Smith emerged from a several year stint in Europe as a worldly writer and seasoned performer of poetry. She has featured at over a hundred poetry events across the continent and has been recruited by a range of other artists, such as musicians, painters and photographers, for collaboration purposes. Her work has been described as “fragility, astonishment, horror and sentiment all twisted in the dripping threads of memory”. She was one of two artists in residence at North London’s art and food venue Kabaret at Karamel. She is now spearheading the concept of immersive theatrical performance in Australia.

Sue Lawson

As a child, Sue Lawson spent her time on the family farm reading, writing, listening to her father and grandfather’s stories and avoiding working with the cattle. These days, when not writing, Sue works part-time for Geelong’s BAY 93.9, and runs author talks and workshops for young people and adults. Sue’s critically acclaimed novel, Freedom Ride has been described as “a brilliant evocation of the racism in Australia of the 1960s…” (Ann Curthoys, original Freedom Rider) and “…an important and entertaining slice of Australian history. 4.5 stars.” ( Books+Publishing). Sue is currently working with Boon Wurrung Elder, Fay Muir on a number of non-fiction projects. Sue’s website is


Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis is an award-winning author for young adults and younger readers. He splits his time between writing, touring Australian schools and working as a journalist.

His debut novel, Loathing Lola was released when he was just 19, and his second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year and Australian Prime Minister’s Literary awards. The Sidekicks is his third novel for young adults. You can read more about Will here