BRWF 2019 Schools Program

Sponsored by:

The BRWF 2019 Schools Program has been an integral component of the Bellingen Readers & Writers festival from the beginning. In recent years over 600 students attending schools throughout the Coffs Coast and Bellingen areas have benefited from the festival’s visiting authors and poets.

The Schools Program is part of the festival’s commitment to promoting literacy and inspiring a passion for reading, literature and cultural production among the youth of our region.

We continue to encourage schools to join together to offer an author visit as a shared experience between neighbouring schools. It both shares the cost and makes for a fun day!

For further details and bookings please contact:
Schools’ Co-ordinator: Lynn Phillips
Phone: 0430 146 100


Aleesah Darlison

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published and award-winning children’s author. She has written 45 books for children including picture books, chapter books and novels and has won numerous awards. Aleesah travels throughout Australia and internationally delivering talks and workshops to children and adults at preschools, schools and libraries. Her creative writing workshops suit class-sized groups of 30 or so primary and secondary students, although she adjusts the sessions as required.

Awesome Animal Stories: Students give their imaginations a workout brainstorming amazing animal characters then writing a short story featuring their new creations.

Making Picture Books: Provides an insight into how picture books are made and students are then led through exercises to write and illustrate their own book.

Fabulous Fantasy Fun: Participants are given a character creation exercise with their brave hero or heroine staring in their own adventures.

Ideas Are All Around Us: Using various techniques and fun exercises, students tap into their memory and imagination to develop a number of story ideas.

Sizzling Story Starters: Using a number of props and prompts, Aleesah works with students as they create some irresistible story openings.

Let’s Talk About Dialogue: Using verbal, interactive group exercises and written individual tasks, Aleesah shows children how to create and compose dialogue.

Dazzling Description: Students learn how to use five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste to write descriptive passages.

Narrative Writing: Students learn the key areas to consider when writing narrative and the 5Ws of What, Why, Who, When, Where and How of writing and are guided through exercises to create their own short narratives.


Anna Fienberg

Anna Fienberg

Anna is the author of many popular and award-winning books for children of all ages. A storyteller with a special talent for fantasy and things magical, her work includes the Tashi series, which has been translated into 16 languages, Minton Goes!Horrendo’s Curse, Wicked’s Way, The Complete Adventures of Figaro and Rumba and 2018’s Monsters. She has also written a book for adults, Escape (2009).

Anna grew up in a house filled with books. Her mother was a teacher librarian who relished stories as much as chocolates. ‘On Sunday mornings we’d all lie in bed with our books, lost in magical wardrobes, witches’ spells, genies’ magic… What we were going to read next was just as important in our family as what was for lunch!’ says Anna.

She started writing stories when she was eight, but never imagined being an author. She studied psychology, fascinated by the dark world of dreams, but gave up counselling after an unfortunate incident with an enraged man and a chair (he missed!), began writing and scored the best job in the world. ‘Working for School Magazine was a treat,’ Anna says. ‘I couldn’t believe you could get paid for sitting back comfortably in your chair, cappuccino in hand, reading over a thousand books a year. Heaven!’ Of course, as an editor she also had to write reviews and articles, stories and plays. One of those stories for School Magazine later became her first book.

‘Tashi began as a conversation with my mother. She was telling me how, when she was a child, she used to tell whoppers. Creative fibs. Tall stories. And the kids would crowd around, dying to hear the latest tale. We began talking about a character like her—a character who told fantastic stories—and over many cups of tea we cooked up Tashi.’


Katrina McKelvey

Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author and a former primary school teacher. Her first picture book was Dandelions (EK Books, 2015). This year more picture books will be published, No Baths Week is due to be published in April and Up To Something in May with yet more books on the horizon for 2020. A past President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia NSW, Newcastle Sub-branch, Katrina is an advisor for the Schools Program of the Newcastle Writers Festival and facilitates the Hunter Writers Centre Children’s Writing Group.

In one of her workshops, children are inspired to continue Katrina’s illustrated picture book Up To Something. In the story, Billie and his dad have built a billycart together to enter the local Billy Cart Derby. But this is where the story ends and the workshop begins—what happens during the race? What chaos do they have to overcome to become the derby champions? Narrative structure, tension, action, pacing, character development and narrative resolution are featured during this workshop. In another story No Baths Week, Ben and his dog Bandit decide to have a week of no baths. Mum plays along but insists they must get clean somehow each day. Disaster, mess and adventure leads them back to enjoying baths. But, what daily disasters happen along the way and how are they resolved? Narrative structure, conflict, character development and resolution are featured during this workshop with the children sharing their stories with the group.




Lachlan Philpott

Lachlan Philpott

Lachlan is a graduate of the University of NSW in theatre and English; Sydney University in education; NIDA’s Playwright’s Studio; and directing at the Victorian College of the Arts. His plays have been produced in Australia, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the USA.

He is a long-term collaborator with director and academic Dr Alyson Campbell whom has worked on many of his plays and directed premieres of his works Bison, Catapult and The Trouble with Harry. Together they work under the banner of their company wreckedAllprods.

As a playwright, Lachlan is proud to have worked with many Australian and international theatre companies and organisations, and he does extensive work as a teacher, mentor and dramaturg at theatre companies, schools and tertiary institutions around the world.

In 2013 he was awarded an Australia Council Cultural Leadership grant to study new play development models. This grant included residencies at the Playwrights’ Centre and the Lark Play Development Center in the USA. In 2016 he was awarded a six-month residency in Paris at the Keesing Studio through the Australia Council.

As the inaugural Australian Professional Playwright Fulbright Scholar, Lachlan travelled to the USA in late 2014 to work with the American Conservatory Theatre San Francisco, the Lark Play Development Centre, New York and Kansas State University.

Lachlan is currently developing new theatre work with the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco; Barking Gecko, Perth; Merrigong Theatre, Wollongong; the National Theatre of Croatia Rijeka and Alyson Campbell; the NSW Arts Unit; Michael Sieders Productions; and UK based director Emma Calendar. He is also developing film work with Vanguard Productions and Dirty Films.

Lachlan was chair of the Australian Writer’s Guild Playwrights’ Committee between 2012 and 2016.


Oliver Phommavanh

Oliver loves to make people laugh, whether it’s on the page writing humour for kids or on stage as a stand-up comedian. He also shares his passion for writing with children, using his experience as a primary school teacher. Oliver’s books are packed with laughs, but also carry a lot of heart and authentic characters living in a multicultural Australia.

As a comedian, Oliver has appeared on stage and on national TV and radio. He has also appeared in numerous anthologies such as Growing Up Asian in Australia; Funny Buggers; and Trust Me Too.

Oliver is a fresh, positive voice for cultural diversity in children’s literature and has appeared in countless writers, arts and comedy festivals across Australia. He has also travelled overseas, appearing at many international writers’ festivals. In 2018, he continued to travel around Asia, with the Singapore Writers Festival’s Words Go Round program; Sharjah Children Reading Festival; and NEEV Literature Festival in Bangalore, India. This year, Oliver will return to India for the Disha Literature Festival.

Oliver’s first book Thai-riffic! was published in 2010 and has made an impact on the literature scene, winning the hearts of many kids and adults alike. It has been on the shortlist for the Young Australia Best Book Awards (YABBAs) and Kids Own Australia’s Literature Awards (KOALAs) for five years straight, earning a place in the KOALA Hall of Fame. It has been adapted for stage and made its premiere at Sydney’s Seymour Centre theatre and Monkey Baa Theatre in 2017.

Oliver followed Thai-riffic! up with Con-nerd, which has also resonated with readers, shortlisted in both the YABBAs and KOALAs for the last three years running. It was also included in the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge. In 2012, Oliver released Punchlines and Thai-no-mite. In 2015, Oliver brought out a book for the Stuff Happens series called Ethan. He followed that up with The Other Christy in 2016 and Super Con-nerd in 2017.

His latest new book, Natural Born Loser came out last August to rave reviews. He is also featured in a collection of short stories called Total Quack Up (raising funds for Dymocks Children Charities).

Oliver is proud to be a Room To Read Author Ambassador, a non-profit organisation that brings literature to kids around the world. He is also an ambassador for the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge.

Oliver Phommavanh


Shivaun Plozza

Shivaun Plozza

Shivaun Plozza is an award-winning children’s and YA writer. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Frankie was a CBCA Notable Book shortlisted for the Inky Awards. It was Highly Commended at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and won the YA category of the Davitt Awards. Her second novel, Tin Heart was released in March 2018 and was recently long-listed for the 2019 Indie Book Awards and Highly Commended at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Both her novels have been sold in multiple countries overseas. Her short story The Point is part of the YA fiction anthology Where the Shoreline Used to Be and recently her footy-themed children’s story The Challenge was part of Speccy-tacular AFL Stories.


When she’s not writing Shivaun works as an editor and manuscript assessor and tutor for Writers Victoria and has been a guest lecturer at The University of Melbourne and RMIT. Shivaun regularly visits schools to conduct workshops and author talks and has been a guest author at many writers’ festivals, including North Texas Teen Book Festival, Reading Matters, CBCA Victoria State Conference, Port Macquarie LitFest 2444 and Somerset Celebration of Literature. Her school tours have taken her all over the country including Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne as well as plenty of regional centres including Geelong, Bourke, Nyngan, Coffs Harbour and Portland.


As a former school teacher, Shivaun is a vibrant and confident presenter and tailors her workshops to differing levels of ability and many are designed to tie in with the curriculum. Her highly-interactive workshops and dynamic presentations include topics on drawing inspiration from personal experience, understanding the anatomy of a scene, creating engaging and authentic characters, developing unique imagery, dialogue and story structure.

Supported by:

Waterfall Way Associates