Conference speakers - 2022

Wil Anderson

Wil Anderson could well be Australia's most prolific comedian. Since debuting in 1997 Wil wrote a new show every year (except 2020/2021 because that thing happened). That’s 26 different shows to sell-out audiences all over Australia and the world. Wil’s also a Helpmann award winner, six time MICF People's Choice and 2022 Director’s Choice winner and host of ABC-TV’s Gruen, Question Everything and the smash hit podcast Wilosophy (amongst many others).

Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard is an award-winning comedian, broadcaster, philanthropist and virtue-signaller. He pretended to be cool on the triple j breakfast show for years, then went on to perform stand-up all over the world and front his own naughty late-night show for #theirABC, Tonightly with Tom Ballard. (The program was cancelled because it was too funny). He's also guest hosted Q&A for some reason, and since 2015 he's sat down with everyone from Lyle Shelton to Yassmin Abdel-Magied for his political interview podcast Like I'm A Six-Year-Old. I Millennial will be available December 2022.

Ben Ball

Publishing Director Ben Ball first worked at Scribner in the UK. Since returning to Australia as Publishing Director of Penguin, he has published Peter Carey, Delia Falconer, Anna Funder, Gideon Haigh, Chloe Hooper, Paul Kelly, Nam Le, Judith Lucy, Leigh Sales, Virginia Trioli, Don Watson, Tara June Winch and Tim Winton. He was reunited with Scribner in 2018.

Stephanie Bishop

Stephanie Bishop is an award-winning author and critic who was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist of the Year in 2006. Stephanie has won The Readings Prize, the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, the Christina Stead Prize and longlisted in the Stella Prize. Her novels are The SingingThe Other Side of the World and Man Out Of Time and The Anniversary, will be published in 2023.

Brooke Blurton

Brooke Blurton is a proud Noongar-Yamatji woman and broke records as the first Indigenous and bisexual Bachelorette for Network Ten's reality television franchise. Brooke is a passionate mental health advocate and champion of young people, especially First Nations and queer youth, and all people of colour. Brooke developed her passion for mental health advocacy as a youth worker by reflecting on her own challenging journey and educating young people about essential life skills, including Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid. Brooke is an RUOK Ambassador, supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart via the Uluru Youth Network, and is a champion for LGBTIQ groups. She lives in Melbourne.

Ben Bowen

Wiradjuri man Ben Bowen is the first Aboriginal CEO of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Ben is focusing on collaborating with remote Community members and platforming Community knowledge and skills, to take the organisation to new heights. He believes that we are lifelong learners and is passionate about early childhood education and the power of literacy.

Anna Burkey

Anna Burkey has a passion for books, reading, and education. Hailing from Scotland, where she was on the founding team of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Anna now lives in Melbourne/Naarm.

After several years with State Library Victoria and the Centre for Youth Literature, Anna’s over the moon to be working with the Australian Publishers Association and BooksCreateAustralia to lead Australia Reads.

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy, Benji. She is the author of two previous novels, Song of the Sun God and The Barrier

Cat Colwell

Cat Colwell is the Supply Chain manager for the Australian Publishers Association. She manages TitlePage, the industry’s bibliographic look-up service, and is passionate about improving the industry’s data infrastructure. Previously she coordinated the APA’s international book fair programs, including the launch of the Books From Australia website. Cat has an operations background from children’s toys and as a bookseller, and when not geeking out about data and tech she’ll take any opportunity to lose herself in books, the bush or up a mountain. 

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham is a Melbourne-based author and writing teacher. She is the author of six books including the novels Geography (2004) and Bird (2008). She is a former publisher and editor and is now an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University’s Non/fiction Lab. In 2019 Sophie was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her contributions to literature.

Anna Funder

Anna Funder is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and celebrated writers. Her multi-award-winning novel All That I Amwas an homage to four extraordinary German anti-Hitler activists in exile in London in the 1930s. Stasiland tells true stories of people who heroically resisted the communist dictatorship of East Germany, and of people who worked for the Stasi. A contemporary classic, Stasiland won the 2004 Samuel Johnson Prize for best non-fiction in English. Anna is a former DAAD Fellow in Berlin, Australia Council Fellow, and Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. She lives in Sydney.

Meryl Halls

Meryl has been Managing Director of the BA of the UK & Ireland since April 2018, having helped to drive all key BA initiatives of the last two decades. A Trustee of World Book Day, Board Member of the European & International Booksellers Federation, the British Retail Consortium, the Independent Retailers Confederation and of, she was awarded the FutureBook Person of the Year Award 2020 in recognition of the work done by the BA Group on behalf of booksellers during the COVID crisis.

Pirooz Jafari

Born in Iran, Pirooz Jafari migrated to Australia more than two decades ago as an ambitious photographer. His experience of witnessing violations of human rights of every imaginable kind throughout his childhood, adolescence and young adult life in Iran ignited a passion in him to pursue legal studies and Pirooz graduated as a lawyer in Australia in the summer of 2003. Pirooz has since worked in various community-based organisations and statutory bodies. Forty Nights is his first literary fiction novel.

Tim Jarvis

Tim Jarvis is the new owner of Fullers Bookshop, Hobart. He was the 2018 ABA/Penguin Random House Young Bookseller of the Year, and has been a member of the ABA management committee since 2019.

Olivia Lanchester

Olivia Lanchester is the CEO and company secretary of the Australian Society of Authors.  Previously, she ran the ASA's Contract Assessment Service and is passionate about advising authors and illustrators on their rights and optimising their position. Olivia has also worked as an intellectual property lawyer in private practice and as a freelance editor. Olivia advises authors and illustrators on all aspects of the publishing process, advocates for the protection of authors’ interests and liaises with industry organisations for better industry protocols. She leads the ASA's advocacy on copyright reform, unfair contracts and digital lending rights. Olivia is also a director of the Australian Copyright Council and a member of the board of the International Authors Forum. 

Anna Low

Anna Low is a bookseller with over 25 years experience.  Since 2007, she has been the owner of the Potts Point Bookshop.  Over the years, Anna has been involved in many parts of the industry, she was Miles Franklin Judge (2012-14), Indigenous Literacy Foundation board member (2015-22) and has been on ABA Kids’ Reading Guide selection panel for over 10 years.  In 2016 Anna jointly won the ABA Text Bookseller of the year Award and in 2017 the Potts Point Bookshop was a joint winner of the Independent Retailer of the Year Award. She loves sharing her passion for books and reading. 

Sarah Malik

Sarah Malik is a Walkley Award–winning journalist and writer. She has written for The New York Times and Guardian Australia and the Sydney Review of Books. She has also presented and produced documentary radio programs for ABC Radio National. Her work focuses on asylum, domestic violence, class, race, identity, gender and literary memoir.

Angela Meyer

Angela Meyer has worked as a bookseller, book reviewer and journalist, and editor and publisher, and is the author of A Superior Spectre, the award-winning novella Joan Smokes, and a forthcoming novel Moon Sugar (Transit Lounge, October 2022). In 2021 she completed Climate Reality Leadership training and was inspired to help her industry become greener.

Lawrence Mooney

Lawrence Mooney is a stand-up comedian, radio broadcaster & television host, widely regarded by fans and peers as one of Australia’s funniest. He’s released three stand-up specials to huge acclaim and his brutally honest and hilarious insights have earned him Best Show at the Sydney Comedy Festival and he has received THREE Barry Award Nominations for Best Show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Lawrence will publish his first book Embrace Your Limitations in October 2022.  

Vanessa Radnidge

Vanessa Radnidge is Hachette Australia’s Head of Narrative Non-Fiction and Head of Literary. She has published fiction and non-fiction and is very proud to have worked with Stephanie Bishop, Sarah Schmidt and be part of the team looking after Inga Simpson, as well as Favel Parrett, Mark Brandi, Brooke Davis, Deng Adut and Hilde Hinton, to name just a few.

Bronwyn Reddan

Bronwyn Reddan is a Research Fellow on the ARC linkage project ‘Discovering a “Good Read”: Pathways to Reading for Australian Teens’. Her research examines the social and emotional dimensions of reading cultures, with a particular interest in women’s writing, fairy tales, and social media. 

Holly Ringland

Holly Ringland is the author of the international bestseller, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart which has been translated into 31 languages and is being adapted into a TV series. In 2021, Holly co-hosted an 8-episode ABC TV series, Back to Nature, alongside Aaron Pedersen. After living between Australia and the UK for ten years, Holly has been based in the hinterland of Queensland since 2020, where she wrote The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding, October 2022, in her 'office', a vintage caravan named Frenchie.

Andrew Ritchie

Andrew Ritchie is a Digital marketing strategist with 20 years’ experience across bookselling, publishing, not-for-profit and retail strategies focused on growing reach and engagement with customers. Joining the ABA as a board member in 2021, he’s keen to grow a united voice of booksellers for Australia.

Rachel Robson

I have been a children's bookseller for nearly 20 years but never really grew out of kid's books. My passion for kid's books really began in the UK working at Seven Stories, a fabulously fun Children's Books Museum celebrating and housing the British collection of original illustrations and manuscripts. My favourite part of being a bookseller is keeping kids engaged with reading through events and bookish mischief like bookclubs, rhymetime, storytime and author/illustrator events. I was nominated for bookseller of the year in 2020 and have found my spiritual home at Gleebooks in the dream!

Alex Sarkis

Alex Sarkis was born and raised in Sydney’s West to Lebanese immigrant parents. In her early twenties, she began writing stories of her own. For the past 10 years, it’s been her enduring dream and passion to be a writer and to produce good work that readers will love. Her main source of inspiration has always been the wild and wonderful landscape of her hometown, her family’s heritage, and the pride she feels in being an Australian.

Sarah Schmidt

Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel, See What I Have Done, was an international publishing sensation and won the ABIA Literary Fiction Award and the MUD Literary Award, was shortlisted for an Indie Book Award, Ned Kelly Award, the Strand Critics Award, the Davitt Award and was longlisted for the ABIA Matt Richell Award. Sarah was also longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the International Dublin Literary Award. Sarah’s second novel, Blue Hour will be published in July 2022.

Inga Simpson

Inga Simpson is an award-winning writer and acclaimed nature writer. She has been longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and Stella Prize, shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and Indie Book Award andawarded the Eric Rolls Prize. The author of six critically acclaimed books - Mr WiggNestUnderstoryWhere the Trees WereThe Book of Australian Trees and The Last Woman in the World – Inga’s new novel Willowman will be published later this year.

Dani Solomon

Dani is an avid life-long reader whose love of children's books has never diminished. Dani has worked in the book industry for close to two decades but when she realised her true passion is helping kids discover that one book that turns them into lifelong readers, she moved to specialise in children's literature to allow her to help ensure the world will always be full of people who love to read.

Reem Sweid

Reem Sweid is new to bookselling, having recently opened The Chestnut Tree Bookshop in West Footscray Victoria. Originally from Damascus Syria, Reem spent her formative years living in various countries around the world until finally settling in Melbourne in 2008. She pursued a career in social policy research, exploring issues of multiculturalism, settlement and social cohesion. She received her PhD in Critical Social Policy theory from Deakin University in 2020. Reem believes that social change is best achieved through small grassroots movement and active local community. 

Amy Thunig

Amy Thunig is a Gomeroi education academic and media commentator who recently submitted her doctoral thesis (PhD) in education studies. Amy’s first book, Tell Me Again, will be published by UQP in November. It’s a collection of personal essays exploring her complex intersectional experiences growing up in a household and community where incarceration, drug addiction, and love were all interwoven. 

Louise Stark

Louise Stark left Brisbane for adventures in Europe and landed in publishing in London. She held a variety of sales and marketing roles at Ryland Peters & Small, Faber & Faber and Hodder & Stoughton before returning home as the Sales & Marketing Director of Hodder & Stoughton. Louise then spent an interesting couple of years at Google Play and Bloomsbury before returning to Hachette.  She is currently CEO of Hachette Australia & New Zealand and is passionate about promoting the benefits of reading to all Australians. At an industry level, she is the Convenor of the TPC of the APA with a responsibility for supporting Australia Reads and volunteers on the board of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Gabrielle Wang

Gabrielle Wang is an award-winning author and illustrator born in Melbourne of Chinese heritage. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy. A talented artist and gifted writer of over twenty acclaimed books, Gabrielle is also the Australian Children's Laureate for 2022–2023. Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon is her most recent novel.

Shelley Ware

Shelley Ware is a proud Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu woman. She has worked as a radio and television presenter on both local and national AFL football news shows, particularly as a panel member of NITV’s Marngrook Footy Show and as a weekly guest on The Point discussing AFL issues. She is a member of the Carlton FC RAP and the AFLW All Australian and Rising Star Selection committees. Shelley also works as an educator at Kew Primary School in Melbourne where she has coordinated a Literacy Intervention program and is currently the middle and senior school Art teacher.

Don Watson

Don Watson's bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime MinisterDeath Sentence and The Bush, which won the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier's Literary Award. An acclaimed speechwriter and screenwriter, he is also beloved for his columns and essays on Australian and American politics.

Bianca Whiteley

Bianca started her career in book publishing at Murdoch Books in 1999 and spent seven years in various roles including Inventory Management. She joined Nielsen BookData in 2006, initially helping publishers and retailers make the most of the insights the BookScan service provides. She became Territory Manager in 2019, taking on responsibility for the Australian Nielsen BookData business including its Research and Discovery services. In recent years she completed several long-running projects including establishing Nielsen BookScan’s first Australian & New Zealand e-book sales measurement service and undertaking consumer surveys around book buying and listening behaviour.