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If you can’t find something to read from this list, there’s no hope for you. This annual round-up of books can’t possibly contain all the wonderful titles published by Australian women writers this year but it’s a great place to see what you might have missed this year and rectify it by putting it on the 2019 tbr pile.

It’s Sydney’s turn to revel in the fun of the Feminist Writers Festival. With another wonderful program on offer, now is the time to secure your tickets and join a lineup including Larissa Behrendt, Brooke Boney, Eva Cox, Erin Gough, Ruby Hamad, Anita Heiss, Zoya Patel, Shirleene Robinson, Siv Parker, Rebecca Shaw, Tracey Spicer and Anne Summers.

Check out the full list of events on their website.

It’s no surprise that we are massive fans of the Feminist Writers Festival. Their events are a great opportunity for feminist writers to network, skill share and discuss some of the most pressing issues in our current climate. This program for the 2018 Melbourne event looks like another not-to-be-missed event. Snap up tickets quickly as these usually sell out fast.

Alexis Wright was tonight at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney announced the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize. She receives $50,000 prize money for her collective biography Tracker.

Congratulations to Alexis.

From an exciting longlist, these are the five titles still in contention to be awarded the 2018 Stella Prize:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (Shokoofeh Azar, Wild Dingo Press)
Terra Nullius (Claire G Coleman, Hachette)
The Life to Come (Michelle de Kretser, A&U)
An Uncertain Grace (Krissy Kneen, Text)
The Fish Girl (Mirandi Riwoe, Seizure)
Tracker (Alexis Wright, Giramondo)

Yet again, the Stella Prize longlist announcement has illustrated the breadth of literary fiction being created by Australian women.

The longlist titles are:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (Shokoofeh Azar, Wild Dingo Press)
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work (Bernadette Brennan, Text)
Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness (Kate Cole-Adams, Text)
Terra Nullius (Claire G Coleman, Hachette)
The Life to Come (Michelle de Kretser, A&U)
This Water: Five Tales (Beverley Farmer, Giramondo)
The Green Bell: A Memoir of Love, Madness and Poetry (Paula Keogh, Affirm)
An Uncertain Grace (Krissy Kneen, Text)
The Choke (Sofie Laguna, A&U)
Martin Sharp: His Life and Times (Joyce Morgan, A&U)
The Fish Girl (Mirandi Riwoe, Seizure)
Tracker (Alexis Wright, Giramondo)

Interestingly the judges’ report contained the following paragraph

Many of the books entered look to the future and to the past in order to deepen our understanding of the present. The books submitted reflect the importance of imagination in all of our lives. It is also apparent that writers are increasingly conscious of whose story they are telling and who has a right to tell that story, and how to do so respectfully.

It’s heartening to see attention being paid to this issue.

How many of this list of 100 books by women writers published this year have you read? Readings have doubled their usual 50 title list, so impressed were they by the books on offer in 2017.

The International Literature Showcase in Norwich City of Literature is taking place in June 2017. The showcase is an opportunity to discover new writers and organisations, encounter new approaches to literature and take part in industry discussions.

WILAA founder Lefa Singleton Norton has been invited as an international delegate and will be using funding from the Melbourne City of Literature Travel Fund to attend. This is an exciting opportunity to connect with women writers all over the world and in particular the United Kingdom. We know that women face unique challenges in the literary sphere, and this will be an opportunity to meet and discuss how we might work together to overcome these.

There are plenty of opportunities to join in the International Literary Showcase from afar as some events are available on livestream and discussions take place on Slack. Expect more updates from the ILS soon.

Congratulations to Heather Rose, who has won the 2017 Stella Prize for her novel The Museum of Modern Love. 

Heather’s full acceptance speech can be read over at the Stella website now. Our favourite tidbit?

“Encouraging and applauding the success of women might become an elegant and subversive act of cultural freedom”

In exciting news, a new festival focused on feminist writers has been launched. Suffice to say WILAA are looking forward to the event in August.

The Feminist Writers Festival (FWF) has been established to support and promote feminist writers in Australia by hosting a biannual feminist writers festival. The FWF builds on existing themes and voices around feminism and women’s writing by offering a space for critical engagement and practical support for all feminist writers and readers.


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Women in Literary Arts Australia aims to foster community and promote women in literature of all forms. We formed in mid 2015, and in 2016 will produce the results from our first Survey of Australian Writers, and undertake the first Events Count. The Survey of Australian Writers will create a snapshot of how women writers feel about their opportunities and work. The Events Count, which will be expanded in following years, will provide a statistical analysis of how women are represented on the stages of literary events and festivals in Australia.


We are seeking a volunteer to act as Online Editor for our soon-to-be-launched WILAA blog and newsletter. The aim of the blog and newsletter is to promote opportunities and events for women writers to our community, and to highlight the work of women writers around Australia. You will join a volunteer team of women contributing to WILAA in a part-time capacity.


We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” and we welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people. We particularly welcome applications from Indigenous Australians, writers of colour, writers with a disability or other women from diverse backgrounds. Applications from all over Australia are encouraged as this position will operate predominantly online, with communication via Skype and email possible.


Please see the position description below and email Lefa Singleton Norton on with your applications by 5pm, Monday 25 July.

Women in Literary Arts Australia – Volunteer Online Editor Position Description

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During the Emerging Writers’ Festival in 2014, a roundtable was held with women writers from all over Australia. We were disheartened that many discussions about gender and publishing were still asking if there was sexism in our industry. Statistics show us that there is, so why, we wondered, was the question still being asked? We wanted to start with the premise that women face discrimination in many aspects of the literary world, and ask what could be done about it.


In the very short window of time we had to gather and speak, we came up with a manifesto. It had real, tangible suggestions for ways that the underrepresentation of women in literature could be addressed. You can read it in full here. At the end of the session it was clear there were many ways that women could be supported. Since then, we’ve made some of those things happen. We hosted a panel at The Wheeler Centre in November last year which discussed the gendered covers of books. The Emerging Writers’ Festival committed to an entire day of programming for women during EWF 2015, including a stream specifically for young women writers. A growing group of women writers joined a private online space to discuss their experiences in the industry, and to network and support each other. These joined the ranks of already wonderful initiatives for women writers, such as the Stella Prize and the Australian Women Writers Challenge.


It soon became apparent, though, that while there were many ways to tackle the challenges of women writers, there was no one place they could go to for information and support. Many organisations or initiatives dealt exclusively with one aspect of the challenges facing women, and didn’t have the capacity to tackle other areas. And thus WILAA was born.


It is our intention to be a hub of information for women writers. To draw attention to the opportunities that exist for them, and to advocate for their needs where those needs are not being met. To begin, we’re taking a survey of women writers to ask about their experiences. We have committed to one big project for 2015: to undertake a count of women at literary festivals around Australia. We know women are underrepresented on the media, but what about on stage? We hope to grow beyond this, though. And we’d love to hear from you if you have ideas on what we should tackle next. Take our survey, send us an email, leave us a comment. We look forward to hearing from you.

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If you missed WILAA founder Lefa Singleton Norton being interviewed on Triple R’s Multi-Storied you can now listen to the interview below:

WILAA evolved from a women in writing industry roundtable held at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in 2014. In just a few short hours of discussion, the writers present offered a wide array of challenges, suggestions and practical ideas to help address the unique challenges women face within the industry. These were collated into a manifesto which was presented to the wider festival community on the final night. A year on, where are we at with the points in the manifesto? This post over on the EWF blog is an update.

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It’s our pleasure to introduce you to the women who will be working to shape what WILAA will become.


Eloise Brook

Eloise is a writer, advocate and academic who has written for The Guardian, The Conversation, Overland and Archer Magazine.  She is on the board of directors for the Gender Centre and has a particular interest in improving the way trans-people are reported on in the Australian media and portrayed in Australian drama.  Eloise is an experienced script writer for theatre and television. She has also lectured in creative writing, PR and Media Writing at Victoria University.

Currently, Eloise is a researcher at Western Sydney University, expanding the much needed conversation on transgender children.

Kate Callingham

Kate has been the General Manager of the Emerging Writers’ Festival since 2013. Prior to this she has worked at Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melbourne Art Foundation. Passionate about sustainable business models in the arts sector, Kate is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration.

Lisa Dempster

Lisa is the Artistic Director/CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival. She was the Director/CEO of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (2010–2012), and founder of its innovative online programming arm, EWFdigital (now Digital Writers Festival). In 2012 Lisa undertook an Asialink residency, working in programming at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Indonesia. Before becoming an arts manager, Lisa was a writer, editor and the publisher at Vignette Press.

Eugenia Flynn

Eugenia Flynn is a writer, social commentator, freelance producer and arts worker. She is the Centre Coordinator for the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development at the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts & Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at The University of Melbourne. 

As a freelance producer and arts worker, Eugenia has facilitated the 2012 RISE Festival for RISE Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees as well as been Assistant Curator on Blak Dot Gallery’s Both Sides of the Street exhibition, where she facilitated and hosted a conversation on solidarity between First Nations Australians and non-Indigenous people of colour. 

Eugenia runs the blog Black Thoughts Live Here and her thoughts on the politics of race, identity, gender and culture have been published in CrikeyThe Guardian Australia, The Conversation, Peril, VICE, HYSTERIA (UK) and The Victorian Writer. She identifies as Aboriginal (Tiwi and Larrakiah), Chinese Malaysian and Muslim, working within her multiple communities to create change through writing, art, politics and community development.

Andrea Hanke

Andrea Hanke is editor-in-chief of Australian book industry publication Books+Publishing. She has been working in the book industry as an editor, journalist and bookseller for 10 years.

Lian Low

Lian is a writer, editor and spoken word artist. She is currently Chair for Asian-Australian arts and culture magazine Peril, previously editor-in-chief (2010-2014) and prose editor (2009-2014).  In March 2015, Lian collaborated on the performance text for the sold out premiere of Do you speak Chinese?  held at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne.  She recently completed a residency at the Wheeler Centre as a Hot Desk Fellow, and was a featured writer in The Wheeler Centre’s Next Big Thing: Hot Desk Edition (September) series.  Lian returns to the Melaka Art and Performance Festival for the third time this year, and her travel is supported by Melbourne’s UNESCO City of Literature Office Travel Fund initiative. 

Amy Middleton

Amy is a Melbourne-based journalist, writer and founding editor of Archer Magazine, an award-winning print publication featuring diverse attitudes to sexuality and gender. She has written and edited for publications including Australian Geographic, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Junkee, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow, The Big Issue, Cosmos and The Bulletin. She has a radio show on 3CR community radio in Melbourne, and she was named among Gay News Network’s Top 25 People to Watch in 2015. In her spare time, she plays AFL and collects interesting editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Kirsty Murray

Kirsty is an award-winning author of nineteen books for children and young adults, including eleven novels. She has been a Creative Fellow of the State Library of Victoria, an Asialink Literature Resident in India, and a guest speaker at many international writers’ festivals. Kirsty is also an Ambassador for the Stella Prize in School’s Program and co-editor of the ground-breaking Indian-Australian anthology of feminist speculative fiction Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.

Marisa Pintado

Marisa is the commissioning editor of children’s and YA fiction at Hardie Grant Egmont in Melbourne. Over the last ten years she has worked with a variety of emerging, commercially successful and award-winning writers, and recently spent a year in London where she was seconded to Egmont UK’s children’s fiction team.

In 2011 she founded the Ampersand Prize for YA and middle-grade debut novels, which has rapidly gained recognition as a leading award for unpublished writers. Before she was a children’s books editor, Marisa spent a year as the YA fiction reviewer for the Canberra Times and worked with the Public Libraries Unit at the State Library of Victoria. 

Roselina Press

Roselina Press is the Editor-in-Chief of Right Now, a human rights media organisation. She is a Master of International Relations graduate, and is also completing a Master of Human Rights Law. She co-edited Right Now’s inaugural anthology, titled Poetic Justice: Contemporary Australian Voices on Equality and Human Rights, which was a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2014 Literature Award. She has written for ReutersThe Guardian and the United Nations Department of Public Information.


Lefa Singleton Norton

Lefa is the founder of WILAA. She is a writer, editor and producer from Melbourne. Lefa is the co-editor of Green Agenda, a project of the Green Institute, and was the Creative Producer at Express Media (2011-2014). Her writing can be found in the book anthologies The Emerging Writer and The Noobz, and in publications including SBS Comment & Analysis, The Big Issue, and Overland.

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Committee Secretary
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600


RE: Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts and the appropriateness of the establishment of a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts



Women in Literary Arts Australia (WILAA) is deeply worried by the decisions made about Federal arts funding in the 2015 Budget.


As a recently launched initiative aimed at supporting women in all fields of literary arts, we are a fledgling organisation that has come about due to the concern that women writers face discrimination and barriers to participation within our industries. Our work is just beginning, and we are operating on the goodwill of volunteers and our own financial backing. We receive no government, philanthropic or private sector funding.


Women are paid less than their male counterparts in all areas of the creative arts, in line with the national wage gap. To further restrict funding to the sector will disproportionately impact women in our industries.


In the complex web of interconnections between small to medium arts organisations, individual artists and major arts organisations, funding cuts in one area do not occur in a vacuum. When funding is decreased for small organisations and individuals, loss of the valuable contributions they make to the broader industry will be sorely felt, not just in the short term when projects and programs are cut, but in the long term when the dearth of practitioners and innovation are felt at the major arts organisations. A focus on funding excellence at the expense of development risks not having a next generation of writers, artists and arts managers to create excellent work.


Writers, like other artists, require investments of time and labour to become good at their craft. Small to medium arts organisations are key to their development. Without writers’ groups, festivals, online magazines, workshops, literary journals, zines, development programs and projects which meet the needs of these writers, we risk losing much of the breadth and variety of work which currently exists. Not only will fewer works be created, but fewer readers will be engaged with Australian literature.


As the statistics of the Stella Count have proven, women’s literature is afforded less coverage and discussion in the public realm. Further cuts to the arts will mean a further reduction in visibility for the artistic works of women. The loss of these unique capacity-building, training, development and research initiatives could see us risk the next generations of cultural workers and Australia’s reputation for cultural ambition and excellence.


Opportunities for women, indigenous, disability and other marginalised community groups will inevitably be reduced under Brandid’s proposed cuts. With a significant wage gap for women already impacting their ability to contribute financial and social capital to the development of their art, we will see more women forced to withdraw from the sector. The changes will create an additional barrier to entry and access for diverse practitioners and organisations and move more funding to major organisations, which are already criticised for a lack of diversity (of form, story, artists, participants and audiences).


We support the Australia Council as an independent arm’s length statutory body free from political influence. The Australia Council has provided a mechanism for independent arts funding for more than 40 years, with grants being fully accountable and applicants being assessed by qualified industry peers. This rigorous process has ensured decisions are made by experts in a particular art form and independent of political and other potential pressures.


On behalf of our community, participants and audiences, we seek a reversal of the cuts to the Australia Council and an assurance that visit this federal arts funding will continue to be administered through an accountable, arms-length, peer-reviewed processes.





Lefa Singleton Norton

Founder of WILAA

July 2015

When we say ‘women in literary arts’, who exactly do we mean? When we were searching for the right name for our initiative, we wanted to convey that we’re open to all women working with words, stories and communication.

Literary arts is canadian viagra a term we landed on because it seemed more encompassing of those women who might not identify as ‘writers’ or part of the publishing industry. We had in mind comic book artists, songwriters, zinesters, playwrights, comedians; artists that often fall through the cracks of traditional organisations and groups. WILAA is an umbrella organisation, and we want women of all artforms relating to storytelling and words to feel as if we have something to offer them.


We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” and we welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people.

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Investigating what women writers need, and how we might assist them to get it.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do the covers of books by female authors say? Headless torsos, giant lips, 50 shades of pink and pastel … why are the covers of books by women usually feminine, even when the content is not?

Authors, marketers and publishers will join us to uncover the covers, in all their gendered glory. They’ll tell the inside story, debunk some common myths – and award a literary razzie to some of the worst offenders.

With Krissy Kneen, Mary Masters, Bhakthi Puvanenthiran and host Lefa Singleton Norton.