The Prime Minister's 2017 Literary Award Recipients


Ryan O'Neill, Anthony Lawrence, Wendy Orr & Peter Cochrane moderated by Sue Whiting

Saturday 25 August 2018
2.30PM – 3.30PM
Conference Room
National Library of Australia

What is it like to win a prestigious literary award? What difference does it make to your career, if any? What matters most, the recognition of your work or being able to pay the bills so you can keep writing?  Meet outstanding authors who have won these awards: Ryan O' Neill: Their Brilliant Careers; Wendy Orr: Dragonfly Song; Anthony Lawrence: Headwaters; Peter Cochrane: Colonial Ambition: Foundations of Australian. The 2017 recipients are moderated by Sue Whiting who is herself an award-wining children's and young adult author.

Ryan O'Neill was born in Scotland, and has lived and worked in Lithuania, Rwanda and China before settling in NSW, Australia. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Meanjin, Westerly, New Australian Stories, Sleepers Almanac and Best Australian Stories. He is also a fiction editor for Etchings. Ryan's short story collection, The Weight of a Human Heart, is published in Australia by Black Inc, in the UK by Old Street Publishing, in Israel by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir and in the US by St Martin's Press. He was the coveted winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2017 for his fiction novel Their Brilliant Careers.

Anthony Lawrence has published 16books of poems and a novel. His most recent collection, 101 Poems is a selection from previous books and Headwaters won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2017. His individual poems and books have won many of Australia’s most prestigious awards, including the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal, the Blake Poetry Prize, the NSW Premier’s Award, the Queensland Premier’s Award, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize and the Newcastle Poetry Prize. A collection of prose poems, The Side the Weather Does Not Love is forthcoming in 2018. He is a Senior Lecturer at Griffith university, where he teaches Creating Writing and Writing Poetry. He lives on Moreton Bay, Queensland.

Wendy Orr grew up in Canada, France, USA and UK before moving to Australia when she was 21. She was a compulsive reader from an early age and wrote stories throughout her childhood. In 1993 she resigned from her position as an occupational therapist to become a full-time writer, and an hour later heard that her novel Leaving It to You had been shortlisted in the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards. Ark in the Park won the award two years later, followed by an Honour Book Award and overseas success for Peeling the Onion. Wendy was a joint winner in the Children’s Fiction section of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Peter Cochrane is a widely published historian and writer based in Sydney and his best known for his book Colonial Ambition: Foundations of Australian Democracy, which won the inaugural Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the Age Book of the Year 2007. His first venture into fiction was the novella Governor Bligh and the Short Man. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. 

Sue Whiting lives and works in a sleepy coastal village near Sydney, where she spends her days dreaming up adventures for her characters and trying to write them down. Sue has written numerous books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to YA, including the bestselling The Firefighters, and the award-winning  A Swim in the Sea. Her picture book  Platypus, illustrated by Mark Jackson, was a CBCA 2016 Notable Book. A former primary school teacher with a special interest in literacy education and children’s literature, Sue is a highly experienced speaker who loves sharing her passion for story and storytelling, reading and writing with people of all ages. She also works as a freelance editor, writing coach and mentor. Sue was also a judge for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.