The National Writers’ Conference

31 May – 1 June

The cornerstone event of the Emerging Writers’ Festival


Across 31 May to 1 June, industry professionals from around Australia will converge on the iconic Melbourne Town Hall for the National Writers’ Conference. The two-day Conference is programmed to inform and inspire writers of all genres and styles.

Ranging from the emerging to the established, writers and panellists offer exciting and varied perspectives on the industry, sharing the ins and outs of their writing lives, deconstructing and discussing the art, the craft and business of being a writer.

The 2014 festival will be supported by five new Emerging Writers’ Festival Ambassadors – Hannah Kent (Burial Rights), Benjamin Law (The Family Law, Gaysia), Krissy Kneen (Affection: A Memoir of Love, Sex & Intimacy), Maxine Beneba Clarke (Foreign Soil) and Felix Nobis (Boy out of the Country) – who will provide mentorship and guidance to new writers in attendance at the festival. This is a unique opportunity to learn from the very best Australian writers.

The festival ambassadors will be joined by a line-up of new and emerging writers bringing contemporary perspectives on the art of writing.

Tickets to The National Writers’ Conference are available now, book today

Downlad the full Writers’ Conference program (PDF)


Date: Saturday 31 May, 10am – 11am
Venue: Swanston Hall, Melbourne Town Hall
Price: FREE with Writers’ Conference Pass or $15 full/$12 concession

Our five Festival Ambassadors share the writing advice they wish they had known when they were starting out – in the form of five rules for writing, each – as an inspiring guide for the next time you sit down to write. It’s 5 x 5 and you will come away with 25 hot tips.

With Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hannah Kent, Krissy Kneen, Benjamin Law and Felix
Nobis. Hosted by Sam Twyford-Moore.

Date: Saturday 31 May, 4pm – 5.30pm
Venue: Swanston Hall, Melbourne Town Hall
Price: FREE with Writers’ Conference Pass or $15 full/$12 concession

Welcome to a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing, editing and publishing.

The black&write! project was established at the State Library of Queensland in 2010 as a
nationwide hub for Indigenous writers and editors with an annual writing fellowship competition and editorial training program. The winners of the writing fellowships work with the project’s Indigenous editors to develop their work for publication.

This powerful event celebrates the publication of the works by Indigenous publishing house Magabala Books, alongside the project’s first digital publication – an anthology of new writing from twenty established and emerging writers from across Australia. Featuring readings by authors Jared Thomas, Tristan Savage, Ellen van Neerven, and Dave Hartley along with video presentations of work by Steven Oliver and Sylvia Nakachi. MC’d by Lisa Maza. Launched by Tom Mosby.

Presented in association with the State Library of Queensland.

Date: Sunday 1 June, 2pm – 3pm
Venue: Swanston Hall, Melbourne Town Hall
Price: FREE with Writers’ Conference Pass or $15 full/$12 concession

Everyone recommends joining a writing group for an opportunity to develop your work-in-progress with likeminded writers, but how does one actually work? These brave writers, from a real life writing group, will workshop their writing live and show you how it can be done.

Meeting fortnightly, over dinner and drinks, this group of four are all widely published and have used each other to support their works in progress. They also use the group to share ideas about writing projects, writing jobs, pitching opportunities and more. Hear how they got started, see them do it live, get inspired and go home and start your own with friends.

Featuring real life writers group members Jo Case, Rochelle Siemienowicz, Rebecca Starford and Estelle Tang.





Park yourself in the spectacular Swanston Hall and hear the emerging and emerged tackle contemporary writing issues.

Saturday 11am

No more lol’ing about, it’s time we started taking the internet generation… srsly. Information overload, social hyper-connectedness, the end of privacy, the virtual world – the paradoxes and absurdities faced by young writers in the digital space is undoubtedly creating incredible new work – why wouldn’t you favourite it? Or should we hit unfollow?

Featuring Nic Low, Holly Childs, Justin Wolfers, Ellen van Neerven. Hosted by Connor Tomas O’Brien.

Saturday 12pm

Poetry is no longer limited to the page, and often seems to thrive outside of its confines. Where can you find a living breathing poetry community and share your work, whether IRL or online? And how can you develop your poetry into something more? An award-winning slam poet, a digitally savvy poetry editor and a verse novelist get together and stand up for stanzas.

Featuring Abe Nouk, Kent MacCarter, Rebecca Jessen. Hosted by Felix Nobis.

Proudly supported by Queensland Writers Centre.

Saturday 2pm

How do we go about representing other people in our writing? If Joan Didion’s claim “Writers are always selling somebody out,” is true, is there any way to soften the blow? In this panel a fiction writer, a memoirist and a journalist come together to talk about the different approaches in profiling people.

With Benjamin Law, Michele Lee, Eli Glasman. Hosted by Alana Schetzer.

Saturday 3pm

What are the limitations and advantages of basing historical fictions on factual events? What responsibilities are in play when using historic public records (particularly of the lives of the marginalised, whose lives might otherwise go undocumented)? These writers discuss how they use facts and memory – collective, personal or otherwise – to create new fictions.

With Eleanor Limprecht, Emily Bitto, Silvia Kwon. Hosted by Anna Westbrook.

Sunday 10am

World building is a common point of discussion in the fantasy and sci-fi genres and most speculative fiction. Are there new ways to imagine other places without falling into the usual clichés? How does a writer start from scratch, and what is the most important stuff to take from this world across to the one of your invention?

With Briohny Doyle, Elisabeth Murray, Tristan Savage. Hosted by Jacqui Dent.

Sunday 11am

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll? Even the combination of the three here is a cliché, so how do you write about such popular and potent topics and make them new? These writers have found there’s plenty of life left in the hard stuff and plenty more to say. A dangerous panel, which threatens to hit the bottle hard, get hot and heavy and burn out rather than fade away.

With Krissy Kneen, Liam Pieper, Adam Curley. Hosted by Lex Hirst.

Sunday 12pm

How do Australian writers fare overseas? What happens when an Australian writer writes a book set in Iceland? What research is needed to set any Australian book overseas, and how does writing about an international setting speak to your own roots? These writers are often out of the country – while they’re here, catch them speaking before they go jetsetting again to the next new location for chapter two.

With Hannah Kent, Ender Baskan and Jo Randerson. Hosted by André Dao.

Sunday 3pm

The memoir boom of the 90s is far from over and writers are constantly being told, “Write what you know.” But how do you write memoir without becoming a narcissist or relaying too much of the self – or is it all about a bit of quality me time. As younger writers are asked to tell their stories, where do they move next? And are there creative new approaches?

With Liam Pieper, Luke Ryan and Lorelei Vashti. Hosted by Benjamin Law.

Sunday 4pm

Over the weekend EWF staff will be going around to find four audience members most keen to get up on stage and share what they write and what they’re going to go home and write after a weekend of inspiring conversation.

Hosted by EWF Director Sam Twyford-Moore.



Step into The Control Room where you are in control of the conversation. We put a writer in a room and let you ask the questions. There is no host. There are only the writers and the audience. They bring the experience, you bring the questions.

Saturday 11am – Jo Randerson (transmedia, stage, page and screen)

Saturday 12pm – Luke Carman and Stephen Pham (developing voices locally)

Saturday 2pm – Luke Ryan and Ni Ketut Sudiani (Australian and Indonesian connections)

Saturday 3pm – Krissy Kneen (novels, short stories, novellas, and film scripts)

Sunday 10am – Hannah Kent (debut novels, historical fiction, and international research)

Sunday 11am – Benjamin Law (comedy, travel, freelancing)

Sunday 12pm – Maxine Beneba Clarke, Dan Bledwich and Jeff Sparrow (mentorships)

Sunday 2pm – Felix Nobis (poet, playwright and actor!)




Join the intimate atmosphere in the Yarra Room and add your voice to the discussions about these writing forms.

Saturday 11am

What’s the best way to capture the essence of a voice? Dialogue, verbatim techniques and interviewing skills will be explored, as these writers do what they do best: talk and listen. Featuring Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Jennifer Down and Livia Albeck-Ripka.

Saturday 12pm

Why are so many young writers caught up with being so serious? These writers talk about navigating the world of seriousness in literary publishing, while making people laff it up. Featuring Michelle Law, Zoe Norton Lodge and Oliver Mol.

Saturday 2pm

What is the relationship between a writer and editor? How do they meet and does the relationship evolve over time? Real life writer and editor duo Maxine Beneba Clarke and Robert Watkins discuss with Bethanie Blanchard their working life together.

Saturday 3pm

Australian nonfiction has been given new life by a young generation of energetic, expert practitioners. How has digital and the longform renaissance played into it? Featuring Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Gillian Terzis and Pepi Ronalds.

Sunday 10am

Is it okay for writers to sit back and only write, or should they be chasing readers? Are we challenging readers to read more widely, diversifying tastes in the meantime? Featuring Adam Ouston, Jason Childs and Elena Gomez.

Sunday 11am

One book is good. Two books… yay! Three books? Get out of town! How do some writers come to be signed for multiple books and how do they go about plotting for so long? With the trilogy of David Henley, Amie Kaufman and Nicholas J. Johnson.

Sunday 12pm

Sports writing is rarely given its dues at writers’ festivals – are we missing some of the best writing out there? Three sporting writers talk from the sidelines about the creative directions writing about sport has taken them. Featuring Tom Lee, Jake Dean and Miriam Sved.

Sunday 2pm

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and talk about pop culture. And I’m all out of bubblegum!” What is it about pop culture that inspires us? These writers are no snobs and take the power of pop as serious as can be. Featuring Patrick Lenton, Julia Tulloh Harper and James Robert Douglas.

Sunday 3pm

There’s nothing like the first time being published, but do things change dramatically after it actually happens? Three writers talk about their first time. Featuring Edwina Preston, Joanne Riccioni and Karen Simpson Nikakis.

Presented in association with NMIT.