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Speaker bios - Storylines National Children's Writers & Illustrators' Hui 2017

Read more about the presenters and panelists (in alphabetical order) below.

Leonie Agnew, Auckland
Chair of Storylines Hui Planning Group

Leonie Agnew, an Auckland primary teacher and former advertising copywriter, won the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award in 2010 with her junior novel Super Finn. This went on to win the 2012 New Zealand Post Junior Fiction award, the Best First Book and the Children’s Choice awards. It was also a finalist for the LIANZA Esther Glen award. Her third novel Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand won the 2015 Esther Glen Medal. That year, with a manuscript entitled The Impossible Boy, she also won the Master of the Inkpot Competition run by prestigious UK children’s publisher David Fickling Books. Leonie has served on the Storylines’ management committee for two years.
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Gavin Bishop, Christchurch
Workshop: Illustrating children's books. 
Panel: Kaumātua Panel

Gavin Bishop (Waikato, Ngāti Pukeko) graduated from Canterbury's School of Fine Arts and was for many years an arts teacher. Since 1981 he has published more than 40 books and exhibited widely in New Zealand and offshore. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for new illustrators was established in 2009. Among his many awards are the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, the Mallinson Rendel Arts Foundation Laureate, the Grand Prix Noma Concurs and more listings in the Russell Clarke, AIM and New Zealand Post awards than any other author. He has written and designed two successful ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Canterbury in 2016.

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Donovan Bixley, Taupo
Workshop: Illustrating children's books.
Panel: The internationally successful

Australian-born but resident in New Zealand since childhood, Donovan Bixley has published more than 90 books sold in 25 countries, winning numerous awards. Accomplished as both an illustrator and writer, also as a singer and instrumentalist, he is a popular speaker and visitor in schools. Besides his children’s books and acclaimed illustrated biographies of Mozart and Shakespeare, he has also illustrated many short stories for educational publishers. His work has been exhibited in New Zealand, Germany and Taiwan, with the New Zealand award-winning Monkey Boy named by the International Youth Library in Munich as one of the top 200 children’s books in the world.

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Fifi Colston, Wellington
Presentation: For authors speaking and presenting in public

Fifi Colston has written and illustrated both fiction and non-fiction for children, but is equally well-known as a columnist, Wearable Art designer and popular television presenter on children’s and breakfast shows. Her non-fiction books demonstrate her skills in design, with her latest two books for children, Wearable Wonders and Ghoulish Getups, shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards, and Wearable Wonders winning the 2014 Elsie Locke Medal for Non-fiction. From the UK but resident in New Zealand since 1968, she has been a judge for the New Zealand Post Book Awards and convener of the Wellington Children’s Book Association.

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Joy Cowley, Featherston
Workshop: The craft of writing picture books
Panel: Kaumātua Panel

Joy Cowley came to international attention in the 1970s as a writer of adult short stories and novels before turning to write for children. Her publications include picture books, novels, short story collections, non-fiction and plays, as well as 800-plus short texts for international literacy programmes. For many years she has travelled widely to promote literacy, particularly in America. Among her many awards and honours are the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for Fiction. In 2005 she was made a  Dame Commander of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children's literature. A founding Trustee of Storylines, she now serves as Patron.

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Tessa Duder, Auckland
Keynote speaker.
Panel: Kaumātua Panel

Tessa Duder trained as a journalist and has published some 45 books since 1982, including the award-winning classics Night Race to Kawau and the Alex quartet, along with anthologies, short stories and non-fiction for both adults and children. Her awards include the University of Waikato Writers’ Fellowship, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book, the Katherine Mansfield fellowship to Menton, France, and an Antarctica artists’ fellowship. She has received an OBE and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato. Also a creative writing mentor and short story judge, she has been a Trustee of the Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust since 2005.

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Kate De Goldi, Wellington
Workshop: The craft of writing fiction for children and young adults

Kate De Goldi is known for her impressive range as an award-winning short story writer, poet and novelist for children and particularly young adults, as well as a tireless advocate, acclaimed public speaker, reviewer, broadcaster and creative writing tutor. Her best-selling 2008 novel The 10 PM Question, New Zealand Post Book Awards Book of the Year, won critical acclaim both in New Zealand and offshore, while the ground-breaking 2016 anthology ANNUAL recalls the annuals beloved of children 50 years ago. Her many honours include several major short story awards, university fellowships, an Arts Foundation Laureate, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and the Michael King Fellowship.
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David Elliot, Dunedin
Workshop: Illustrating for children.
Panel: Kaumātua Panel

David Elliot holds a Fine Arts Diploma from the University of Canterbury and worked for many years as an art teacher both in schools and for adults, but it was time in a zookeeper's cottage in Edinburgh, drawing the animals at nights, which led him to a full-time career in illustration. His picture books, increasingly using his own texts, have won numerous awards and shortlistings, and he has exhibited widely around New Zealand. David’s work has appeared in the American Redwall, Castaway and Apprentice series. He was the inaugural Mallinson Rendel Arts Laureate, and won the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal in 2014. His most recent book Snark is an imaginative extension of two classic Lewis Carroll poems.

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Brian Falkner, Queensland
Keynote speaker.
Panel: The internationally successful

Brian Falkner grew up on Auckland’s North Shore, studied computer science and journalism and held a variety of jobs before publishing his first book in 2003. In 2008, with four novels under his belt, he won a place on the University of Iowa writing programme. His 2009 novel Brainjack was a Storylines Notable Book, also winning the New Zealand Post Children’s Choice award. Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo was shortlisted for the 2016 NSW Premier's Awards, and won the New Zealand Book Awards Young Adult Fiction award. The sequel Battlesaurus: Clash of Empires, is a Storylines Notable Book. Currently living in Queensland, Australia, Brian is published in the US and Canada, and regularly visits schools as a sought-after writing coach.

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Maria Gill, Warkworth
Workshop: Writing non-fiction for children

Maria Gill is a former teacher who since 2005 has specialised in non-fiction for the trade and international education markets. In 2013-14 she co-wrote a Writing for Young Readers MOOC for the Commonwealth Education Trust. For 13 years the coordinator of the Kiwi Write4Kids writers’ group, she is in demand as a visitor to schools, creative writing tutor, reviewer and short story judge. Most of her titles have appeared in New Zealand Post Book Awards shortlists and Storylines Notable Books lists. In 2016 her book Anzac Heroes won both the New Zealand Book Trust Awards for Children and Young Adults for Non-fiction and the Margaret Mahy ‘Book of the Year’ Award.

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Paula Green, Auckland
Workshop: On writing catchy poetry for children

Paula Green, PhD, is a children’s writer, poet, reviewer, judge, teacher and staunch advocate for promoting children’s enjoyment of poetry, maintaining two popular blogs - New Zealand Poetry and New Zealand Poetry Shelf - and regularly touring schools to talk about poetry. She has authored nine poetry collections, several of them for children, and edited several anthologies including the recent Treasury of New Zealand Verse for Children. Her awards include Children’s Choice Award for the 2015 Book Awards, four Storylines Notable listings, the University of Auckland Literary Fellowship, and the MNZM in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list.

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Stacy Gregg, Auckland
Workshop: Writing series fiction for children

Stacy Gregg, of Ngāti Māhuta descent, dreamed as a child of riding horses and being a writer. She owned her first pony at ten, and later enjoyed show-jumping and eventing. As a well-known journalist she wrote for newspapers and fashion magazines before combining her two loves and publishing her first book in her 14-book Pony Club Secrets series, set in New Zealand, in 2007. The Pony Club Rivals series, set in Kentucky, USA, also published by HarperCollins UK, followed. Three stand-alone novels have each won a New Zealand Post Children’s Choice award, and her two latest are both Storylines Notable Books. Stacy travels widely for research, to Spain, the Arabian peninsula and Italy and most recently Russia.

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David Hill, New Plymouth
Keynote speaker.
Workshop: The craft of writing fiction for children
Panel: Kaumātua Panel

David Hill taught high school English for 14 years before becoming a full time and prolific author, playwright, school visitor, and widely-published reviewer and columnist. His novels' many translations include French and Chinese. Awards include the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, the Esther Glen Award (twice), The Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for See Ya, Simon, and the 2016 Book Awards’ Children's Choice (Junior Fiction), while many of his more than 40 novels have been finalists for AIM and New Zealand Post Book Awards and listed as Storylines Notable Books. He was the 2003 Dunedin College of Education children’s writers’ resident, and in 2004 received the New Zealand Order of Merit..

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Mike Hudson, Auckland
Workshop: The craft of writing children's theatre

Mike Hudson is a well-known producer, director and playwright in the New Zealand theatre scene. An Auckland intermediate school teacher, he has more than 20 years’ experience in writing and producing theatre for young people, with his plays often catering for up to 150 young actors. Several plays have been toured throughout New Zealand and have featured in a number of New Zealand arts festivals. Wide Awake (2014) and Could Do Better (2016) were awarded Best Play for the Young by New Zealand Playmarket, while his adaptation of Tom Sawyer (Best Adapted Play 2016) was part of the Auckland Theatre Company's 2016 programme.

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Darryn Joseph, Palmerston North
Panel: On Māori and Pasifika publishing for children & young adults

Darryn Joseph PhD (Ngāti Maniapoto) teaches at Massey University in both te reo and English. Since winning the 2003 Huia Short Story award Te Pakiwaitara i te reo Māori mā ngā Pakeke, he has published more than 24 books for children in Māori: picture books, chapter books and text books. His fantasy graphic novel Hewa won the LIANZA Kura Pounāmu Award in 2010. An avid reader especially of comic books, his latest fiction Te Poi Koiora explores the need to plan ahead for climate change. His non-fiction work about language has appeared in Mana Tāngata, Kawea te Wairua o te Kupu, and his children’s literature in Mātariki Monograph. In 2017 he joined Storylines as a Trustee.

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Janice Marriott, Auckland
Workshop: The author as editor. Panel: Kaumātua Panel

Janice Marriott, novelist, editor, tutor and manuscript assessor, graduated from Victoria University before studying librarianship in San Francisco and working in radio and TV in California and Vancouver. Returning to New Zealand, she worked for many years as audio producer for Learning Media as well as publishing more than 20 children’s fiction and non-fiction titles, winning AIM Supreme and Senior Fiction awards, the New Zealand Post Junior Fiction and Esther Glen prizes, and four Storylines Notable Books listings. She held the Auckland College of Education’s residency in 1994 and the Foxton Residency in 2001. Recent publications include three acclaimed gardening books co-authored with Virginia Pawsey.

Janice Marriott

Kendra Marcus, international literary agent

Kendra Marcus’s Bookstop Literacy Agency includes the very popular Megan McDonald’s ‘Judy Moody’ stories among many other successful books by prominent authors. Founded by Kendra in 1984, the agency represents authors of picture books through to young adult fiction.

Pippa Masson, international literary agent

Pippa Masson is one of five agents working in Sydney with leading international literary agency Curtis Brown, the oldest and largest literary agency in Australia. Its clients include Nick Earls, Libby Gleeson, Markus Zusak, Tom Keneally, Andy Griffiths and several New Zealand authors. Pippa has worked in publishing, principally at Curtis Brown, for more than ten years. She has appeared at many writers’ festivals in Australia, talking about the role and benefits of agents in publishing.
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Kyle Mewburn, Central Otago
Workshop: Great ideas and writing texts for picture book

Kyle Mewburn, Brisbane-born, variously European traveller, journalist, teacher, manager, dishwasher and kibbuztnick, settled in New Zealand in 1990. A full-time and notably prolific writer since 1997, he was the 2005 winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley award for a picture book text (published as Kiss! Kiss! Yuk! Yuk!). To date his 50-plus picture books and junior fiction titles have been published in 27 countries and won multiple awards, including New Zealand Post Picture Book and Children’s Choice prizes, and Storylines Notable Books listings. He held the Otago University children’s writers’ residency in 2011, and was President of the New Zealand Society of Authors from 2013-2017.

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David Riley, Auckland
Workshop: The challenges of self-publishing

Panel: On Māori and Pasifika publishing for children & young adults

David Riley lives in South Auckland and holds an MA in Social Anthropology from Auckland University, focusing on Pacific culture and history. He has worked as a researcher for the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (Canterbury University) and as a freelance writer. A high school English and Drama teacher for nearly 20 years, he began to self-publish non-fiction in 2013, specialising in colourfully illustrated and meticulously researched titles on famous sportsmen in rugby, basketball and boxing. Recent books under his Reading Warrior imprint feature notable Tongan, Samoan and Niuean personalities. His books on Steven Adams and Samoan heroes are Storylines Notable Books.

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Melinda Syzmanik, Auckland
Workshop: Writing 101 for newcomers to writing & publishing

Melinda Syzmanik holds an MSc from the University of Auckland, a BA in English and Diplomas in Business Studies and Children’s Literature. She began publishing in 2006, and has since produced seven picture books, three junior fiction and one young adult title, as well as contributing short stories to the Australian School Magazine and the New Zealand School Journal. Among her awards are the New Zealand Post Children’s Choice, LIANZA Librarians’ Choice, and four Storylines Notable Books listings. She was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Children’s Writer in Residence, and in 2016 was appointed a judge for the 2017 Book Trust Children's and Young Adult Book Awards.

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Vasanti Unka, Auckland
Workshop: Illustration for children's picture books

Vasanti Unka trained as a graphic designer and has worked for many years as art director for children’s books and leading magazines (Herald on Sunday, Cuisine, Canvas and Little Treasures). In 2009 she gained a Masters degree in Design. Her first picture books appeared in 2001, followed by six others, winning a LIANZA Russell Clark award and several Storylines Notable Book awards. The 2011 winner of the PANZ Book Design Award, she went on in 2013 to win the New Zealand Post Picture Book and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year awards with The Boring Book, written, illustrated and designed by her. This title was also named a White Raven and chosen by New Zealand IBBY as an IBBY Honor Book.

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Zak Waipara, Auckland
Panel: On Māori and Pasifika publishing for children & young adults

A former New Zealand Herald graphic artist and AUT Digital Media lecturer, Zak Waipara (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Ruapani, Ngāti Kahungunu) is now HOD of Animation at Animation College in Auckland. He has worked as a designer for Māori Television’s children’s show Miharo, illustrated comics and a range of books, and created animated music videos. In 2007 Zak was commissioned to create the poster for International Children's Book Day 2007, hosted by Storylines as New Zealand Section of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), and distributed to 70 member countries. At AUT he has won postgraduate research awards and been a three-time finalist in the Qantas Media Awards.



Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki and Friends of Storylines Te Pou o Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki together form New Zealand’s only national organisation working year-round to promote New Zealand children’s and young adult literature through activities that include a major national Story Tour to schools, early childhood centres and communities, and awards for writers, illustrators and those who work in the area of New Zealand children’s literature



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