Will Kostakis: Key Note Speaker

Will Kostakis is an award-winning author, but his real claims to fame are a Twitter spat with Guy Sebastian, and that time a member of Destiny’s Child said his name. After dabbling in celebrity journalism and reality TV, Will now writes for young adults.

His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just nineteen, and his second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. The Sidekicks is his latest novel for young adults.

As a high school student, Will won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year for a collection of short stories.


Shivaun Plozza

Shivaun Plozza is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Frankie. A darkly-funny tale about a girl’s search for her missing brother, Frankie was a CBCA Notable book, was shortlisted for the Inky awards and won the YA category for the David Awards. Her second novel, Tin Heart, explores a young organ recipient’s complicated ‘happily ever after’. Shivaun’s short fiction, flash fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in anthologies and journals including Where the Shoreline Used to Be, Above Water, Text, ELLE Australia, Vivid and The Victorian Writer. When she’s not writing, Shivaun works as an editor and manuscript assessor.


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Oliver Phommavanh

Oliver Phommavanh loves to make people laugh, whether it’s on the page writing humour for kids or on stage as a stand-up comedian. He also shares his passion for writing with kids, using his experience as a primary school teacher. His books include Thai-riffic!, Punchlines, The Other Christy and his latest book is Super Con-nerd, the sequel to Con-nerd.



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Jess O’Callaghan

Jess is a producer on ABC RN’s investigative journalism program Background Briefing and the program manager of Audiocraft Festival. She has more than ten years’ experience working in commercial, community and public radio and has presented at Sydney Writers’ Festival, Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Audiocraft, Emerging Writers’ Festival and #LitFest2444.


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Leona Hameed

Leona produces It’s Not A Race, ABC RN’s podcast about race, identity and culture and ABC RN’s politics podcast The Party Room. She’s produced stories for All The Best and the Meanjin podcast, written for The Lifted Brow and presented on ‘Hidden Voices of Podcasting’ at the Emerging Writers’ Festival.


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Ollie Brooke

Ollie Brooke is an entrepreneur based in Port Macquarie.  His business ‘Cloud Concepts’ is a website development and software consulting agency servicing dozens of clients all over New South Wales.

With a strong background in software development, Ollie is a firm believer in the power of a systematic approach to both his business products & services and life itself.

Over the years, his keen interest in philosophy and existentialism,coupled with an ever present desire to figure things out, has led him on to create a very successful business which he uses to help him contribute to the wider community through both event sponsorship and public speaking engagements.



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Jenna Mynott

 Jenna thrives on creativity, curiosity and play, and is passionate about the positive impact these activities can have on well-being and academic achievement. Jenna’s background sees an amalgam of over a decade in the corporate and education sectors across roles such as coach, facilitator, and teacher. She loves finding new ways of connecting individuals with knowledge and helping them discover their purpose. Jenna is co-founder of The Posify Group, an organisation dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering individuals and their communities to boost optimism and improve wellbeing.


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.


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Rachel Watts

Rachel Watts is a writer from Perth, Western Australia. She has a Master’s Degree in Media and Communication from Curtin University, with a focus on creative writing. A recovering journalist, she now writes fiction and creative non-fiction. She has been published in Island, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, Tincture Journal and more. Her young adult novella Survival will be released in 2018. You can reach her at On Twitter she is @Watts_writes.


MJ Hearle

M.J. Hearle was born in Port Macquarie, a small coastal town on the Mid-North coast of Australia. Addicted to stories from a young age, it was somewhat inevitable that he turned to dealing them himself. His first novel, Winter’s Shadow, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2011, Winter’s Light followed in 2012, and Claudette in the Shadows in 2013. His new novel, Lüne, is due for release in 2018. M.J. Hearle lives with his wife, Greta, son, Bailey, and daughter, India, in Glebe, Sydney.


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Rob Feldman

Rob Feldman is a Sydney-based comic artist, humourist, and author/illustrator who produces original comic-style books for all ages. His work ranges from the nonsensical and corny to the satirical and thought-provoking. Rob’s comic book titles are published by Comicoz and Mirthworks. He is a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  

As a Books in Homes Role Model and with a background in performing and teaching, Rob is passionate about inspiring a love of reading, writing, and drawing in young audiences through author talks, shows, and comic workshops.  


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Favel Parrett

Favel Parrett is an Australian writer who loves to surf. Her first novel, Past the Shallows, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary award 2012, and she was awarded the Antarctic Arts Fellowship to complete research for her second novel, When the Night Comes.    


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Louise Seymour

Drawing upon various paper art disciplines such as Origami, Papercutting and Paper Scultpure, Louise transforms the humble sheet of paper into bespoke pieces of art for a variety of audiences. She has worked with communities, libraries, galleries and well known craft brands to deliver site specific installations and custom workshops. Through her paper engineering skills Louise has collaborated with various creative agencies to design and deliver site specific work along with live demonstrations to assist in bringing an event to life. Louise’s practice is deep rooted in her former career as a Medical Scientist and she attacks each project with the same precision and detail as her previous laboratory world demanded. Previous clients include Facebook, Instagram, Westfield and National Gallery of Victoria.


James Coquillat
James Coquillat

James Coquillat is a writer, games designer, and translator from Melbourne, Australia. A graduate of the Victorian College of the Art’s Bachelor of Screenwriting course, James specializes in new and interactive media, with a focus on video games, tabletop products, and virtual reality content.  When not staring blearily at a fumbled roll, or fearfully at a final boss, James is furiously writing for projects like League of Geek’s Armello and Chaosium’s Reign of Terror.”


Alice Pung
Alice Pung

Alice Pung is a writer and lawyer who loves teaching. Alice’s books are studied in secondary schools and universities in Australia as well as the United States, and she has taught writing workshops to students from the ages of 8 to 80 in Australia, China and the States.


James Phelan
James Phelan


Dr James Phelan is the award-winning and bestselling author of twenty-seven novels and one work of non-fiction. He has been a full-time author since 2006, and has sold over five million copies world-wide. He wanted to be a novelist but first tried his hand at architecture before turning to writing, spending five years at The Age, and obtaining an MA (Writing) and PhD (YA literature). He has written five geo-political thrillers featuring ex-Australian Navy operative turned investigative reporter Lachlan Fox, as well as the ALONE trilogy of YA post-apocalyptic novels.


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Matt cato


Matt Cato is passionate about multimedia and technology. He has been a high school teacher for 17 years and had the privilege of teaching in the areas of visual arts, design and IT. Matt spent a year teaching in Canada where he had the opportunity to teach film production, animation and graphic design. He is currently the Leader of Learning Technologies at St Joseph’s Regional College, Port Macquarie and oversees the implementation of iPads as tools for student engagement.

‘I love to explore new technologies and how they can be used to enhance student creativity.’


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Erin McCuskey


Erin grew up in a large Irish emigrant family in regional Victoria. Her love for moving images grew from family films created by her father, and the gatherings to view them. She develops transmedia works in creative media specialising in film, photography, spoken and written word. Her current project Luxville is a transmedia fable and tells tales of artists who demand their town develop creativity! Her short films, installations and commissions have screened at White Night Ballarat, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE), Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), Flickerfest, Indiefest, Gertrude St Projection Festival, Ballarat International Foto Biennale.


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Lorin Elizabeth

Lorin is a spoken-word poet, teaching artist and feminist who co-founded the Enough Said poetry slam and is published in Going Down Swinging’s audio anthology. Lorin has toured the USA poetry slam circuit, featured at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and self-published an EP titled Poems.


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Candy Bowers

Candy is an award-winning theatre-maker, playwright, actor, poet, speaker, activist and producer. The co-artistic director of Black Honey Company, Candy has pioneered a fierce sub-genre of multidisciplinary hip-hop theatre that produces work that stills hearts and provokes minds.


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Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne based writer, reviewer and YA fiction specialist. Bec has appeared at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, and on Radio National’s Books and Arts Daily. She has judged a number of literary prizes, including for the Victorian Premier’s Award. Her nonfiction work has been published by Bookseller and Publisher, Australian Book Review, Killings, Westerly and a number of education publications. She has had fiction published by Seizure and the Review of Australian Fiction. Bec is currently the Manager of the Stella Schools Program and completing a Masters of Creative Writing at Melbourne University.


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Fiona Solley

Fiona Solley is an illustrator, designer, sewing enthusiast and teacher who sees colours, shapes and textures all around her. This has led to making patterns and creating stories through her illustrations. By combining delicate watercolours, bold colours and graphics and hand drawn illustrations, her work tells a unique story.

Fiona has worked in many different educational settings, teaching secondary school students and adults to draw, paint and design. She loves to create to connect people through teaching and her art.


Michael Wilkie

Michael Wilkie knows all about film production. He was 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. Michael is returning to #LitFest2444 this year. His 2017 workshop was very popular and sold out very quickly.