The 2016 Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival Committee

Brian Purcell – Chair

Brian has been active in the literary community for nearly 30 years. As Secretary, President and first Public Officer of the Poets Union, he helped to establish it as a truly national body. He followed this with five-year stints at the Australian Society of Authors and producing audio books at the Royal Blind Society. During this time he was the singer/lyricist with Sydney cult band Distant Locust. In 1991 while touring in Europe they signed with Italian label Contempo International and released the critically acclaimed CD Chemical Wedding Feast and in 1995 Fearful Pleasure. In 2002, Brian graduated with a Master of Writing at Sydney’s UTS, concentrating on the novel.

Brian then worked for the Australia Council for the Arts, initially for the Music Board and later as Program Officer for the Literature Board. Since 2003, he has worked on manuscript assessments, and in early 2008 established Renaissance Manuscript Service in Bellingen on NSW’s mid-north coast.

In 2009, he began the process to establish the Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival, now in its sixth year. For five years, he was a panellist on the Regional Arts Fund, specialising in literature.
More than fifty of his poems have been published – most recently in Meanjin – and overseas. He has edited anthologies such as Poets on Wheels, and is the author of the ASA’s paper Writing for the Poetry Market and a book of poems/lyrics, Lovely Infestation.


Irina Dunn – Program Director

Irina is the Director of the Australian Writers’ Network, with 11,700+ subscribers, and is a well-known manuscript assessor, editor and literary agent. Previously, she was NSW Writers’ Centre Executive Director for 15 years, Manager of the Australian Writers’ Guild Authorship Collecting Society and Booktopia Managing Editor, and represented NSW as an independent Senator in the late 1980s.

She wrote The Writer’s Guide: a companion to writing for pleasure or publication (Allen & Unwin), and co-authored A Natural Legacy: Ecology in Australia (Pergamon Press), which won the Royal Australian Zoological Society Prize for best text.


Roby Aiken


Lydia Bezeruk

Lydia Bezeruk spent 20 years managing Australia’s overseas aid operations in various parts of the world and has now retired to Bellingen to grow vegetables and catch up on her reading.


Vicki Bridgestock
Libby Feez


Annette Marfording

Annette has been a published writer for more than 25 years. Her creative writing teachers include leading Australian authors such as Kristina Olsson, Cate Kennedy, Steven Carroll, Michael Robotham, Bryce Courtenay, and many more. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. She was a fiction book reviewer for The Law Society Journal for ten years and is now reviewing books for both The Newtown Review of Books and the Rochford Street Review (both online).

She is working on the manuscript for her first novel.

She was Program Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival until 2015 and has been chairing author conversations and panels at the festival every year. She created and broadcasts a regular program on Australian writers and their work on radio 2bbb FM. Her book Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors features 21 in-depth conversations with Australian authors on their books, central themes in their body of work, writing methods, central tips for aspiring writers and more. They include leading and emerging Australian authors such as Robert Dessaix, David Malouf, Kristina Olsson, Cate Kennedy, Robert Drewe, Michael Robotham, Georgia Blain, Debra Adelaide, Jon Bauer, Chris Womersley, Larissa Behrendt and Kate Howarth.


Janet Richardson

Despite a BSc (Biol.) and qualifications in Environmental Management, JANET RICHARDSON was side-tracked into a different career path soon after graduating. She initially worked as Dick Smith’s Special Projects Manager then bought a travel business.

In the 1980s, Janet was appalled by mass tourism’s exploitative nature so she founded Tread Lightly, the world’s first ecotourism magazine which highlighted responsible travel products as an alternative to mass tourism. Ecotourism & Nature-based Holidays (Choice Books) followed. The book became a “must read” for travellers with a conscience.
Janet was President of the Ecotourism Association of Australia and for many years served on boards and committees, gave talks and wrote articles on the benefits of using ecotourism as a conservation tool. From the late 1990s, Janet lectured on responsible travel subjects at UWS and wrote a column for Tourism & Hospitality Review, a national travel trade magazine.

As a pilot, Janet has flown around most of Australia and when flying coastal at low altitude from Coffs Harbour to Sydney, she thought it was only a matter of time before some pretty villages under her wings faced developers. She wrote The Lemongrass Project (2014), her debut novel about a proposed development that divides communities on the mid-north coast.


Sebastian Syder
Ros Ward