International best-seller recalls childhood holidays in Warrnambool

James Phelan

Melbourne-based writer James Phelan creates thrillers that are devoured by teens and adults worldwide – think Lachlan Fox, Jed Walker, the Thirteen series, and many more. But did you know he has a family connection to Warrnambool and Port Fairy?

James may have grown up in Parkville, within a lion’s roar of the Melbourne Zoo, but his school holidays were spent at Quamby and Tower Hill. Until his mid-teens, he earned his pocket money by helping his grandmother, Shirley Phelan, in the restaurant, newsagency and accommodation businesses she ran with business partners Terri and Russell Kramm.

With a stellar international reputation as a writer of thoughtful fast-paced thrillers, James’ time is now divided between producing his next best-seller and fulfilling a hectic round of speaking engagements at festivals and schools at home and abroad. Including Port Fairy!

James Phelan will be one of the feature speakers at the 2016 Ex Libris Port Fairy Festival of Words, being held over the weekend of 9 to 11 September. In a session titled ‘Writing to Thrill’, he will talk about the challenges of writing for both adults and younger readers.

He will also participate in a panel discussion with two other highly acclaimed Melbourne writers, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. In a session chaired by local journalist and writer Matthew Neal, the trio will be discussing their work in relation to this year’s festival theme, ‘Winds of Change’.

According to local librarians, James has a huge following in the local area. With these two appearances at the Ex Libris Festival, his many fans will have a double chance to meet their hero. Bring along your personal best James Phelan book to be signed, and who knows? You might even get the opportunity for a chat to your all-time favourite thriller writer.

The full festival program is available online, and print copies can be found in local libraries, information centres and some stores. Don’t wait, book your ticket now!

Writing to Thrill
James Phelan talks about his work as a thriller writer for both adults and young adults.
Blarney Books. - $15
Book Now with

2.15-3.15 pm
Panel discussion
Graeme SimsionAnne Buist and James Phelan discuss the festival theme “Winds of Change” with host Matthew Neal.
Lecture Hall - $15
Book Now with