SCBWI TAS member gigs this February

Fullers Reading Chair for Ayssa Bermudez, illustrator of Amelia Chamelia

Alyssa Bermudez, illustrator of Amelia Chamelia by Laura Sieveking, ( Penguin Random House Australia), will have the Fullers Bookshop Reading Chair on Sunday 3 February, from 11 am. CLICK HERE for Bookings.

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Preview launch of Christina Booth’s One Careless Night

February 17, 2019 at the Tasmania Museum & Art Gallery (TMAG),
1 pm start in the entry courtyard.
To be launched by award winning author and illustrator, Donna Rawlins

For more information CLICK HERE.

Launch of Jilda’s Ark by Verity Croker (Harmony Press, USA)

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What a month October has been down here in the heart-shaped island, with not one, but two SCBWI TAS events.

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Sheryl Gwyther Talk

7 October

Seven children’s book creators turned up to ‘Shippies’ Hotel at Battery Point on 7 October to hear Assistant Regional Advisor and Queensland Coordinator, Sheryl Gwyther, present about her dazzling new middle-grade novel, Sweet Adversity (Harper Collins). Sheryl spoke about her long and winding road to publication and how membership of SCBWI opens access to publishers, and supports networking, friendships, knowledge and collegial support nationally and globally.

Sheryl is a long term friend of Tasmania’s creatives and its wild natural environment and she is welcome back any time to continue to inspire our local members.

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Our first SCBWI TAS conference was judged outstanding success by all who attended. With the help of a $5,000 grant from Arts Tasmania, we were able to bring publisher, Clare Hallifax (Omnibus, Scholastic), publishing consultant, Maryann Ballantyne, and literary agent, Alex Adsett to the conference.

Our guest publishers and agent conducted manuscript assessments throughout the conference and on the following day at the Tasmanian Writers Centre.

Susanne Gervay opened the conference and Terry Whitebeach acknowledged Country. Clare Hallifax delivered the keynote address on publishing today. Tony Flowers and Christina Booth spoke about the illustrators’ craft and the challenges of illustrating a narrative.

Alex spoke about what a literary agent does, and 10 top tricks and traps of publishing contracts. Christina then interviewed a panel of talented local illustrators, Alyssa Bermudez, Bronwyn Houston and Aurore McLeod and Tony Flowers. Nicole Gill then chaired a panel of eminent Tasmanian children’s writers that comprised Julie Hunt, Verity Croker, Terry Whitebeach and Carol Ann Martin.

Afternoon sessions included ‘Approaching an agent or publisher’ and ‘A bookseller’s perspective on promoting Tasmanian talent,’ presented by Clive Tilsley, FullersBookshop. Susanne chaired the ‘Working with a publisher’ panel that included writer, Emily Conolon, and publishers. The final session was ‘How SCBWI connects authors and illustrators to the industry

This was the first time SCBWI TAS has attempted a conference and we were delighted by the support of over 40 children’s book creators. The feedback on the publisher and agent information and manuscript assessments has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to many more Tasmanian writers and illustrators getting published as a direct and indirect result of attending this conference and their SCBWI membership.

Thanks to all who made this conference such a blast – Clare Hallifax, Maryann Ballantyne, Alex Adsett, Christina Booth, Marion Stoneman, Terry Whitebeach and the Tasmanian Writers Centre, Warren and Jemima Kinman, Aurore McLeod, and all who brought morning/afternoon tea and helped us at the Moonah Arts Centre and the Tasmanian Writers Centre.


Interview with Dr Terry Whitebeach

Terry Whitebeach

Terry Whitebeach

Dr Terry Whitebeach has published work in a variety of genres, including poetry, young adult novels, radio plays, children’s picture books and biography. She has taught creative writing all over Australia, edited several collections of writing, and helped establish the Indigenous Creative Writing programme at Batchelor Institute, Alice Springs. She has a BA in English Literature and Philosophy, a MA in English Literature and Creative Writing and PhD in History.

Dr Terry Whitebeach has published work in a variety of genres, including poetry, young adult novels, radio plays, children’s picture books and biography. She has taught creative writing all over Australia, edited several collections of writing, and helped establish the Indigenous Creative Writing programme at Batchelor Institute, Alice Springs. She has a BA in English Literature and Philosophy, a MA in English Literature and Creative Writing and PhD in History.

Her most recent book is Trouble Tomorrow (2018), co-authored with Sarafino Enadio and published by Allen and Unwin (2017). Based on Sarafino’s life story, this compelling novel tells an incredible tale of courage, resilience and hope, about a Sudanese boy who survives civil war, a treacherous journey and many years in a refugee camp before finding peace.


I remember very well the time of emerging young adulthood – the feeling of having a foot in two worlds, still constrained by the rules and regulations imposed by adults, but reaching eagerly towards selfhood and control of my own destiny even while chafing under older adults’ authority; having my own hopes and a dreams and possessing a rich inner life that I felt adults around me could barely guess at. I hoped all things, dreamed all things, and was waiting to burst out into my own individual, marvellous life. At the same time I was full of trepidation, riven with conflict because my inner and outer realities did not match. It was a fascinating period of self-discovery, a bid towards autonomy and self-definition, which came with hefty challenges, deep despairs and fears and equally piercing delights.

So it is this period of life that is the chief setting and concern of my novels and collection of poetry for young adults. Each protagonist faces strong physical, emotional and ethical challenges, and the novels trace the journey towards emerging self-actualisation and accountability for choices made. As a writer I feel a strong responsibility not to add to the sum of despair or cynicism in the world, instead, to encourage hope and a sense of possibility and autonomy in young people. Gritty realism and heart-stopping choices there are a-plenty, in the novels and poems, no bland, sentimental or saccharine plots, but encouragement to stay with the trouble; and not succumb to the superficial, nihilistic or doom-ridden credos that are promulgated so pervasively. But above all, I love story and am intrigued to find out what happens to the characters I invent, what they will do next and how they will make their way.


Sarafino and I have collaborated on four books, his memoir, A Little Peace, two bilingual picture books, and a YA novel, Trouble Tomorrow. We met as professional colleagues and our many discussions led to our first collaboration. As an oral historian I have always enjoyed listening to other people’s stories, but Sarafino’s accounts of the civil war in Sudan, his ten years in refugee camps in Kenya, where he had trained as a UN Peace educator, and his subsequent migration to Tasmania were like none I had ever heard. I felt they should be part of our national story.

The stories he told about guarding the family’s crops from marauding birds and animals delighted me so I suggested we also create a picture book showing a way of life that had been swept away by war. Many Sudanese children were born in refugee camps or in Australia and have little knowledge of their homeland, so we thought this might be a good opportunity of showing them a little of their cultural heritage – and introducing Australian born students to Ma’di (Sudanese) language, experience and culture.

The first book, When I was a Boy in Sudan, was based on Sarafino’s life, and we then created a companion volume, When I was a Girl in Sudan, with Sarafino’s mother-in-law, Paskalino Eiyo, about her life as a girl in Loa, South Sudan. Tasmania writers Anne Morgan and Julie Hunt collaborated with us, and Gay McKinnon illustrated the books.

The final book in our collaboration is the YA novel, Trouble Tomorrow, which is loosely based on Sarafino’s experiences. It was prompted by Sarafino’s admission that the children of Ma’di refugees knew little of their parents’; experiences. The war was not something discussed in Sudanese households. It felt important to me that both Madi and non-Madi people in Australia learn about this history.


I have strong feelings about injustice. Have been an activist for freedom, human rights, preservation of the planet and non-violent solutions to conflicts for most of my life. This has led me down some interesting and challenging byways.I am on the PEN writers in prison committee, joining with other writers in sending greetings of solidarity to writers and journalists who are political prisoners and lobbying governments on their behalf. And the ASA I think of as the writers’ union, who lobby for just usage of our cultural property, and for decent return for our work, and who help safeguard our rights as writers, illustrators and creators.

I have only one life, and my main talent is writing – so writing has been one of ways I may address some of the issues that really matter to me. But it is difficult balancing the collaborative work of advocacy and support for social change with the solitary work of the writer.


TIME. Taking the time to write. Snatching, it; that’s what it often feels like. And feeling illegitimate about wanting or taking that time. Like many women, I have been socialised to take care of the needs of others first. I have an uneasy relationship with the balance between acceding to, or denying, many of the multiple calls on my time. And I am not so good with self care. Recently I have suffered serious illnesses and these have further diminished the time and energy available for writing. I don’t expect ever to solve this dilemma, but there still exists in me a naive belief I will be able to fit in everything I wish to do – despite the daily proof that this is not the case. And I guess learning to live with paradoxes and the tension of irreconcilable opposites is just part of the fabric of life.


I write in my ‘office’, which is a caravan up in the paddock on the edge of the bush that backs onto our block. That way I leave the house and go off to work. I look out the window and watch the chooks rootling around, the occasional echidna swaggering past, birds swooping, the wind ruffling the trees. Time just disappears and I exist in a wonderful, eternal ‘now’; until I suddenly realise my back is aching, I’ve been sitting at the computer for hours and I’m dying for a cup of tea.