In December last year I received an invitation from Wendy J Dunn. It started like this:
Late in 2016, the British newspapers’ “History Book of the Year” lists caused consternation amongst many writers who write history. In these lists, the Telegraph listed nineteen works written by men and only three by women, the Independent listed 8 works by men and two by women and the Times 8 works out of 9 authored by by men. This aroused a global twitter protest, with the hashtag #Historybooksbywomen being shared by those who know that women who write history – either that of non-fiction or fiction – are unsung stars and a force to be reckoned with.
Wendy went on to invite local women history writers – fiction and non-fiction – to participate in a month-long Women’s History event at Eltham Library. Now being an eager beaver, I shot a note back straight away, explaining that I’d had success with historical short stories and that my first full length publication, The Tides Between, would be published by Odyssey Books in October 2017. I then sat back and watched others respond – real writers (see the biographies below) with impressive qualifications and significant publications under their belts and, as the list grew, I felt less sanguine about my chances of being included.
Imagine my delight therefore, to be asked to participate in an initial panel discussion on Sunday 5 March and to speak in more depth at a meet the author event on Saturday 18 March. Like, wow! Two pre-publication author events, just like that.
I’ve included the full program below and put my name in bold because, of course, it’s all about me. 🙂 But seriously, the line up looks amazing. If you are free in March why not booking into one of the sessions?
Women’s History Month – March 2017
Join a celebration of Women writers of history with this opportunity to meet local writers in a series of Readings and Panels.
Sunday 5 March 1.15pm – 4.30pm
1.15-2.45 – Panel Discussion: why women write history. Chair: Catherine Padmore
Panel: Kelly Gardner, Barbara Gaskell Denvil, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, Kate Mildenhall, Glenice Whitting, Kathryn Gauci.
2.45-3.15 – Afternoon tea and launch of Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s new historical novel The deception of consequences
3.15-4.30 – Historical fiction Readings and book discussions.
Kathryn Gauci, Barbara Gaskell Denvil and Wendy J. Dunn
Saturday 11 March 12.30pm – 4.30pm
12.30-2.00 – Readings and Discussion from their works
Katie Holmes, Janis Sheldrick, Christina Twomey, Liz Conor
2.30-4.30 – What draws women to write about the past?
Chair: Wendy J. Dunn
Panel: Liz Conor, Katie Holmes, Christina Twomey
Saturday 18 March 12.30pm – 4.30pm
12.30-2.00 – Meet the Authors
Elise McCune, Wendy J. Dunn
2.30-4.30 – Meet the Authors
Rachel Rossignol, Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Saturday 25 March 12.30pm – 4.30pm
12.30-3.00 – The powerful and different ways that non fiction and fiction tell the stories of the past, and why women are so good at telling these stories.
Chair: Eloise Faichney
Panel: Professor Josie Arnold, Barbara Gaskell Denvil,, Kelly Gardiner, Glenice Whitting
Dr.Josie Arnold is Professor of Writing. She developed the MA (Writing) online course and the PhD by Artefact & Exegesis for creative practitioners. She is the author of over 45 books in many genres and academic articles about theories such as writing, feminism and Indigenous inclusion in the curriculum. She is currently working on producing a PhD training hub for postgraduate work on creative, traditional, contemporary or scientific areas of knowledge and an Indigenous Knowledge Hub to contribute to teaching and learning and the decolonization of scholarly ways of knowing.
Dr Liz Conor is an ARC Future Fellow in History at La Trobe University. She is the author of Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women [UWAP, 2016] and The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s [IndianaUP, 2004]. Liz is editor of the Aboriginal History Journal, a columnist at New Matilda, and freelance essays have appeared in The Age, The Conversation, The Drum, Crikey.com, and Arena and her blog has been archived by the National Library of Australia. She is former editor of Metro Magazine and Australian Screen Education and has published extensively on colonial and modern visual and print history. Liz is a community campaigner, founding and convening the Coalition Against Sexual Violence Propaganda (1990) on media portrayal of sexual violence, the Stick with Wik (1997) campaign on native title, the Mother’s of Intervention (2000) campaign on maternity leave, and the guerilla theatre troupe The John Howard Ladies’ Auxiliary Fanclub (with Zelda Da, 1996) and most recently the Climate Guardians (with Deborah Hart).
Elizabeth Jane Corbett
When Elizabeth Jane isn’t writing, she works as a librarian, teaches Welsh at the Celtic Club in Melbourne, writes reviews and articles for the Historical Novels Society and blogs at elizabethjanecorbett.com. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another short story, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall early draft of her first novel, The Tides Between, was short listed for a manuscript development award. It will be published in by Odyssey Books in October 2107. Elizabeth has an active social media presence, is an experienced public speaker and is in her element discussing books and ideas.
Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Barbara Gaskell Denvil is the author of five published historical novels – Satin Cinnabar, a crime adventure tale actually commencing on the Bosworth battlefield, Sumerford’s Autumn, an adventure mystery with strong romantic overtones, set in the early years of the Tudor reign, Blessop’s Wife, (published in Australia as The King’s Shadow), a crime/romance set in England during 1482-3 in those turbulent years around the death of King Edward IV, The Flame Eater, a romantic crime novel also set in 1482/3, and a time-slip novel Fair Weather, a highly adventurous mystery set during the reign of King John. Barbara is also an author of fantasy – both fantasy and historical fiction take us into new worlds and Barbara’s books do exactly this – being multi-layered, and rich in both characterisation and atmosphere.
Wendy J. Dunn
Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds.
Eloise Faichney is an emerging writer and editor from Melbourne. She is a PhD candidate in creative writing at Monash University and Co-Senior editor of Other Terrain and Backstory literary journals. Her work has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia, SMUT zine, Stormcloud Poets Anthology and others.
Kelly Gardiner writes historical fiction for readers of all ages. Her latest novel is 1917: Australia’s Great War. Kelly’s previous books include the young adult novels Act of Faith and The Sultan’s Eyes, both of which were shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and Goddess, a novel for adults based on the life of the seventeenth century French swordswoman, cross-dresser and opera singer, Mademoiselle de Maupin. She teaches writing at La Trobe University, and digital literacy at the State Library of Victoria. Kelly is also the co-host of Unladylike, a podcast about women and writing.
Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Art College. After graduating, she spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne. Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio for over fifteen years, which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel. Set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens, it is a gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair based on historic events spanning the period from The Greek War of Independence in 1821 to the Nazi occupation of Athens in 1941. It has recently been picked up by a Greek publisher and is available in Greek. Currently, it is being considered for publication in Turkish and Romanian. Her second novel, Conspiracy of Lies, a drama set in France during WWII will be published during the first half of 2017.
Katie Holmes is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Inland at La Trobe University. Her research spans Australian gender and environmental history and she has written about women’s diaries, gardens, gender and war and environmental history. Her books include: Spaces in Her Day: Australian women’s diaries from the 1920s & 1930s; Reading the Garden: the settlement of Australia (with Susan K Martin & Kylie Mirmohamadi) and Between the Leaves: stories of Australian women, writing and gardens. She is currently co-authoring a history of the Mallee lands of Southern Australia.
Rachel Le Rossignol
Rachel Le Rossignol has been writing since the age of 8 (early works are safely hidden away). She holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014 whilst another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila and Sydney in 2016/17. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2012-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train. The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle (to be released in 2017), began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, a moment when anything is possible…
Elise McCune is an Australian, Melbourne-based writer. Born in New South Wales, Elise moved to Perth, where she raised her two children. She worked for many years in the Western Australian Museum and in this time she travelled to Egypt where she visited Cairo and Alexandria. It was during this visit that she first became interested in researching the stories of Australian WW1 soldiers who fought in the Middle East. Elise writes dual narrative stories set in two time periods and while her first novel Castle of Dreams (Allen & Unwin 2016) has one narrative set against a backdrop of the Pacific War in WW2 her work in progress has one narrative set in WW1. The memory of her time spent in Egypt and the research she has done on Australian soldiers fighting in the Middle East during WW1 will be woven through her story.
Kate Mildenhall is the author of Skylarking, published by Black Inc. in 2016. She is a writer and teacher. She has taught in schools, at RMIT University and State Library Victoria, and has volunteered with Teachers Across Borders, delivering professional development to Khmer teachers in Cambodia. Skylarking is her debut novel, and is based on the true story of Kate and Harriet, best friends growing up on a remote Australian Cape in the 1880s, and the tragic event that befalls them. Skylarking was named in Readings bookstore’s Top Ten Fiction Books of 2016 and longlisted for Debut Fiction in The Indie Book Awards 2017.
Kate lives in Hurstbridge, Victoria, and is currently working on a new novel.
Dr Catherine Padmore was awarded her PhD in creative writing in 2002, and she has taught literary studies and creative writing at La Trobe since 2005. Her first novel, Sibyl’s Cave (Allen and Unwin, 2004) was shortlisted for The Australian/Vogel Award and commended in the first book category of The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (South-East Asia and South Pacific region). Catherine has been awarded two retreat fellowships at Varuna, the Writers’ House, and in 2014 she was short-listed for their Publisher Introduction Program. She has novels-in-progress about Amy Dudley and Levina Teerlinc. Her short creative works have been published in Island, The Journal of Australian Writers and Writing, The Big Issue, The Australian, Dotlit, Antithesis and in the anthology Reflecting on Melbourne (Poetica Christi, 2009). Catherine’s scholarly work has been published in Australian Literary Studies, TEXT, JASAL, Life Writing and Lateral, with chapters in Telling Stories: Australian Life and Literature 1935-2012 (MUP, 2013) and Expanding the Canon of Early Modern Women’s Writing (CSP, 2010).
Janis Sheldrick is an independent scholar who initially studied philosophy and began historical research for a biography with the support of Deakin University through a PhD in Literary Studies by Creative Thesis. Nature’s Line: George Goyder, surveyor, environmentalist, visionary was shortlisted in 2014 for the Ernest Scott Prize (for an original contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or colonisation) and the University of Queensland non-fiction book award.
Professor Christina Twomey is Head of History in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies. She is the author of three books, A History of Australia (2011, co-authored with Mark Peel), Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners: Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War II (2007) and Deserted and Destitute: Motherhood, Wife Desertion and Colonial Welfare (2002). Christina has also published widely on the cultural history of war, with a focus on issues of imprisonment, captivity, witnessing, the photography of atrocity, gender and memory.