At first glance the novels of Michael Burrows, Holden Sheppard and Jennifer Down may not appear to have much in common. Their work addresses the horrors and heroism of war (Burrows), the challenges of growing up gay in country Australia (Sheppard) and addiction and child abuse (Down). While the content may vary, what unites these writers is a willingness to boldly tackle fierce topics and confronting content. They are writers who pull no punches. This session is moderated by Christine Layton.
Jennifer Down is a writer and editor. Her debut novel, Our Magic Hour, was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The story collection Pulse Points won the 2018 Readings Prize and the 2018 Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Literary Awards. She was named a Sydney Morning Herald Novelist of the Year in 2017 and 2018. Bodies of Light, her second novel, won the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award. She lives in Naarm/Melbourne.
Michael Burrows was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. As a middle child in the creative chaos of six children, all of whom grew up to have some kind of artistic streak, he never stood a chance. After travelling to London to work at the 2012 Olympics and backpacking through Europe for a year, the great British weather persuaded him to settle in the UK. Michael completed his MA in 2017 at City, University of London, where he wrote the first draft of his novel. Where the Line Breaks is his first novel and was shortlisted for the 2019 Fogarty Literary Award.
Holden Sheppard is an award-winning Young Adult author born and bred in Geraldton, Western Australia. His debut novel Invisible Boys won numerous accolades including the 2018 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award and the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Prize for an Emerging Writer. Holden’s second novel The Brink was published by Text Publishing in August this year. Holden is a misfit: a gym junkie who has played Pokémon competitively, a sensitive geek who loves aggressive punk rock, and a bogan who learned to speak French.
Christine Layton presents one of ABC Radio Perth’s four flagship programs, statewide Afternoons. From Mornings at ABC Great Southern in Albany to broadcasting across the country on National Drive, Christine has interviewed every day Australians, high profile politicians, elite athletes and performers such as Dame Emma Thompson, Tim Minchin and Jimmy Barnes. At the start of the pandemic, Christine recognised the need for unfiltered conversations around mental health and created Australia’s first regular segment ‘Inside Out’ with Tash Broomhall from Blooming Minds (finalist at the WA Mental Health Awards 2019, 2020). An award-winning lindy hop performer and former teacher, Christine is a mother to Bonnie, wife to Ian and ambassador for Endometriosis Australia and The Bell Tower.