List of presenters for Ex Libris 2016:



Career: Anne Buist is Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne. Medea’s Curse (2015) is her fourth novel, its dark undercurrents about mothers who kill informed by work with police protective services. Dangerous to Know (March 2016) also features offbeat forensic psychiatrist Natalie King and localities along the Great Ocean Road. Anne and her husband, novelist Graeme Simsion, are co-writing Left Right, a love story set on the Camino de Santiago and due in 2017.  

Here: In a joint session, Anne and husband Graeme Simsion offer their insights into how to balance marriage and parallel writing careers. They also join a panel discussion on the festival theme, Winds of Change.



Career: Kate Burridge is Professor of Linguistics at Monash University. Kate has authored/edited 23 books on different aspects of language, including the Pennsylvania German spoken by North American Amish and Mennonite communities, the notion of language taboos and the structure and history of English. She regularly presents language segments on ABC Radio, and has appeared on ABC TV’s Can We Help? and The Einstein Factor.

Here: Kate reveals the origins of the F word, offers a minced oath and digs the dirt on words that are dirty in one country, but benign in another. Her Antique Oaths Roadshow gives you the chance to ask an expert about words that intrigue or puzzle you, offensive or otherwise. Kate will also be judging our Cussing Competition.



Career:  Steven's first novel, The Zookeeper’s War, published in 2007, is set in Berlin during WWII and the novel he is working on now is also a WWII story.

The Zookeeper’s War won the inaugural Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2008, then worth $100,000. The novel has been published in the UK and Ireland and translated into Spanish and Portuguese. His novel-in- progress has recently received an offer of publication from a major Australian publisher.

Born in Sydney in 1966 and raised in Armidale and Guyra in rural New South Wales,  Steven has lived in a number of Australian states and cities, chiefly Canberra (1987-1997) and Melbourne (1999-2010). He has travelled widely in Europe, particularly in Italy, and in 2011 spent four months in Indonesia, courtesy of an Asialink Arts Residency.

Currently he lives with his partner and son in Port Fairy in the south-west of Victoria.  Steven studied Professional Writing at the University of Canberra and Australian Literature at the Australian Defence Force Academy (as a civilian). He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. Barman, life model, taxi driver, public servant, university tutor and book reviewer are some of the jobs with which he has supported his writing.

Here:  Author, Steven Conte, has stepped in to take the place of Kate Llewelyn at this year’s festival. His talk entitled “The Greatest Storied War – World War II as Literary Inspiration”, will take place at 9.45-10.45 on Saturday morning at Blarney Books.  In this talk he asks why the Second World War has spawned more literature than any other war and continues to do so.



Career: Chris has extensive experience as a chef, having worked at many prestigious restaurants in southwest Victoria including the Royal Mail at Dunkeld, Portofino and the Merrijig Inn in Port Fairy, Basalt in Killarney and currently at Proudfoots Boathouse in Warrnambool. He has a particular interest in using local and native ingredients.

Here: Chris serves up lunch from recipes in John Newton’s book, The Oldest Foods on Earth, then explains how to use bush foods and where to source them. The book contains 19 recipes from Australia’s top chefs including Maggie Beer, Peter Gilmore and Kylie Kwong.



Career: Julie Hunt creates stories for children of all ages.  Her picture book, The Coat (illustrated by Ron Books), won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award in 2013 and her novel, Song for a Scarlet Runner (2013), won the inaugural Readings Children’s Book Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. Her graphic novel, KidGlovz, illustrated by Dale Newman, came out in 2015 and she is working on a sequel. 

Here: Julie shares insights into her craft as a writer of children’s books. She also presents a unique workshop on creating characters for children’s fiction. This is designed for both adults and children 10+. Kids can leave after an hour. We are hoping for a bit of imaginative cross fertilisation and some fantastic new animal species!



Kate Llewellyn Session Cancelled
Well known Australian poet, writer and gardener has sadly had to pull out of this year's festival due to ill health. Tickets will be refunded or transferred. Please contact if you have bought a ticket.



Career: Neridah McMullin lives in Melbourne, but is a country girl at heart. She grew up on a farm near Hamilton spending summer holidays in Port Fairy where she now has a holiday house. She loves Australian history, sports stories and true stories. An author of four picture books and two chapter books for children, Neridah is also an award winning short story writer and poet.

Here: Neridah launches her children’s book, Fabish: The horse that braved a bushfire, with a reading of the book and entertaining activities for kids.




Career: Journalist, film reviewer, musician, songwriter, and soon to be international author, Matt Neal is a man of many words and many styles. Born and raised in South West Victoria, he’s been writing for The Warrnambool Standard for 15 years. His first book Bay Of Martyrs, a crime thriller set in South West Victoria, has been co-written with Scottish “tartan noir” novelist Tony Black and is due out in the UK next year.

Here: Matt will chair the panel discussion with Graeme Simsion, Anne Buist and James Phelan on festival theme ‘Winds of Change’.




Career: John Newton is a writer, journalist, novelist and teacher.  His recent books are The Roots of Civilisation: Plants that changed the world and A Savage History: Whaling in the Pacific and Southern Oceans. His most recent is The Oldest Foods on Earth: A history of Australian native food, with recipes (2016). John has won many awards for his writing, including a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Technology Sydney.

Here: John shares his passion for the foods that nourished Aboriginal peoples for over 50,000 years, home grown superfoods and native plants and animals that are better for the land than European ones.



Career: Euan (aka The Pirate) is at home on land and sea. He has captained various vessels though, despite appearances, not a pirate ship. A champion penny farthing rider, he now works as a writer and cycling journalist, so no reasonable offer is refused. 

Here: Euan powers his penny farthing with poetry. His repertoire is varied, but Banjo Paterson’s Mulga Bill is likely to be featured with the regularity of a giant rotating wheel.




Career: James is the award-winning author of twenty-seven novels and one work of non-fiction. From his teens he wanted to be a novelist. He spent five years with The Age, while obtaining an MA (Writing) and PhD (Young Adult Literature).  He has been a full-time novelist since 2006, selling over a million books worldwide.  His books for young adults include the Lachlan James series, the Last Thirteen series, the Alone trilogy and the Jed Walker series.

Here: James reveals some of the secrets involved in creating action-filled thrillers for both adults and young adults.



Career: Ailsa Piper is a writer, director, teacher, blogger, actor (in a past life she was Ruth Wilkinson in Neighbours) and walker.  In 2000 she was co-winner of the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award. Ailsa’s first book, Sinning Across Spain (2012), recounts her 1300 km walk from Granada to Santiago de Compostela and on to Finisterre, during which she shoulders the sins of friends in a contemporary pilgrimage. Ailsa’s next book, due in 2017, features the correspondence between herself and Monsignor Tony Doherty
which began when the priest read Sinning.

Here: For the festival’s opening night Ailsa performs a unique theatre interpretation of her exhausting and exhilarating walk. She also appears in discussion with John Watt, whose book examines the structure and strictures of the Catholic Church.



Career: Former criminal lawyer Jock Serong’s first novel, Quota (set in a town remarkably like Port Fairy), won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel.  His just-released second novel, The Rules of Backyard Cricket, is also crime fiction.  It touches on sibling rivalry, the cult of the Australian sports star, masculinity versus humanity, car boot escapology and a smattering of cricket.  Jock also writes feature articles for Surfing World and is literary editor for Slow Living. Jock is married with four children and lives in Port Fairy.

Here: Jock talks about his most recent book (and probably many other things) and also discusses writing with Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist.



Career: Graeme Simsion has written novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and non-fiction. The Rosie Project was an award winning screenplay before being adapted into a novel.  It won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (unpublished manuscript), 2014 ABIA Best General Fiction Book, and Australian Book of the Year for 2014, and has sold around the world, with a movie in the offing.  The 2014 sequel, The Rosie Effect, also became a bestseller.  His new book is The Best of Adam Sharp being launched this month.

Here: Graeme and wife Anne Buist discuss the strategies they use in combining novel writing and marriage, and how their work evolves. The couple also join a panel Discussion on the festival theme, ‘Winds of Change’.



Career: John Watt’s early education was in WA Catholic schools and the local seminary, followed by studies in Arts and a PhD in philosophy.  He taught in high schools and at Monash and Murdoch universities, publishing three books and many journal articles.  He co-authored a non-fiction work, The Whitefella Problem, with his late wife, Wendy. Now retired, he is engaged in writing fiction, musical projects, and the extended family.  Crooked Vows, launched in June 2016, is his first novel.

Here: In conversation with writer and actor, Ailsa Piper, John discusses his new book and the issues it raises about the Catholic Church.