Toni Risson

The world expert on Fantales, False Teeth and Freddo Frog!

Toni Risson’s writing career began when UQP published two children’s novels during her undergraduate degree at UQ. Following the award of the University of Queensland Gold Medal for Outstanding Scholarship, Toni then went on to complete a doctorate that examined the role of confectionery in Australian childhood. Storyteller, cultural historian and mother of four, including twins, Toni has since penned everything from a children’s picture book about mermaids to a short story about an eight-year-old axe-murderer.

Not only is she the recognised authority on lollies but Toni also wrote the first book about Australia’s Greek cafe phenomenon. A Fellowship at the State Library of Queensland resulted in her second book on this subject and, subsequently, an invitation to curate an exhibition for the Library. Brisbane’s Greek Cafes: A Million Malted Milks was a finalist in the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards and Meet me at the Paragon (2019-2020) was one of the library’s most popular exhibitions.

Toni’s work in popular culture has led to appearances on Landline7.30 Report, and Weekend Sunrise, ABC podcast recordings, countless live radio interviews, and articles in newspapers like the Courier Mail and Sydney Morning Herald.

An art teacher in another life, Toni is an active member of her local arts community. She won the 2021 Ipswich City Council Australia Day Cultural Award.

Toni is President of Women Writers Qld.

Follow Toni’s blog here: https://tonirisson.com.au

 

Bernadette McCabe

Bernadette was born in Beaudesert, now part of the Scenic Rim Regional Council, in 1957 and enjoyed an idyllic childhood living on the family farm at Round Mountain, near where Cannon Creek joins the Logan River.

She was educated at St Mary’s School Beaudesert and the local State High School, completing Senior in 1973. Afterwards, she accepted a position in the local branch of the Commonwealth Bank where she worked for almost ten years before her family grew.  She and her husband, Mark, married in 1979 and have four daughters and four grandsons.

Bernadette has been a regular contributor to her local paper since childhood and enjoyed success in several writing competitions, including the Bi-centennial Commonwealth Youth Week ‘Message of Loyalty’ Prize in the Beaudesert Shire.

After leaving her bank employment to focus on family, Bernadette made time for a tertiary education. She undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Humanities) at Griffith University and graduated with First Class Honours in 1995, soon after returning to employment in the Australian Public Service. She worked for Defence, Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission, Australian Taxation Office, and Department of Veterans’ Affairs in various research, policy, advisory and management roles until her retirement at age 60.

Bernadette is a member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland) and is a keen researcher of local history. She has had historical pieces published, including in the Queensland Review; and more recently, in Scenic Rim Writers’ Piccabeen Press publication, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem. She is also a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and looks forward to further developing her creative writing skills in retirement. Other interests include travelling, re-learning French, playing word games, restoring vintage furniture, and following the stock market.

 

Julie Vellacott

Julie has been writing all her life. It’s still her favourite occupation. She loves learning and has studied all forms of writing and has conducted workshops at home in Australia and during overseas postings. Her work has been published in various collections of short stories. She writes articles, recipes and opinion pieces for various magazines and has worked as an editor for several publishers. She writes short stories and poetry and is working on a cookbook and a novel.

Julie lives in Boonah in the beautiful Scenic Rim and often visits Brisbane to attend concerts, theatre and galleries. She has been actively involved with the local cultural foundation and helped organise the annual Boonah Writers Festival. She is retired from her most recent work as cultural centre manager.

Food, cooking and writing have been important in her life for leisure and work. She is also a keen reader, traveller, gardener and wildlife watcher.

Some of her writing can be seen on her website www.whiskingupstories.com.au and https://www.facebook.com/whiskingupstories

 

Alexandra J Cornwell (Williams)

Born and schooled in south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim, Alexandra’s first publish poem as a primary school student, “Peacock Behind Bars” was reproduced in a 1979 edition of The Courier Mail.

Alexandra attended high school as a boarder at Somerville House (Brisbane Girls High School) as South Brisbane was being transformed for Expo ’88.

With vague ideas of becoming a teacher, she studied at the University of Queensland (St.Lucia) 1987-1990, majoring in Psychology, English (Australian Literature) and completing Honours in Geographical Sciences.

As an undergraduate she was awarded the Queensland University Ford Memorial Poetry Medal (1989) for “Mr. Blue (or Boy and a Balloon)” and was an active contributor to a series of student poetry anthologies:

  • Union College Poets 1987 (with an introduction by Bruce Dawe launched at Union College on 29 October 1987);
  • Union College Poets 1988; and
  • Union College Poets 1989 (foreword by Tony Thwaites)

After graduating Alexandra moved across the country to Perth, Western Australia for two years. She’d already had her first poem “Hug” published by The Freemantle Arts Review in late 1990, followed by “The Woman’s Song” in the same publication in 1991.

Returning to the NSW north coast in 1993 she commenced a career as a Strategic Town Planner in various local governments, moving a growing family comprising two children and a dog between the north coast and south-western Sydney and Coffs Harbour on the mid north Coast. Returning to Brunswick Heads in 2011 provided an opportunity to volunteer at the Byron Writers Festival (BWF) which she has been enthusiastically supporting since 2012.

In 2017 Alexandra relocated to southern Brisbane where she is working on home renovations and landscaping the front garden between bouts of birdwatching, photography, volunteering at Bluesfest and BWF, walking and travelling with her partner (and apprentice poet) Colin B Gossip.

She feels that her creative muse has returned and is expanding from the occasional piece of poetry (published on her facebook page: Alexandra J Cornwell – poet) into microfiction, short stories, travel blogs and digital photography featured on her occasional blog “The Drabble Writer’s Table” (www.squeakythongs.wordpress.com).

 

Indrani Ganguly

Indrani Ganguly was born of Bengali-speaking parents in Lucknow, India and lived in many different parts of the country. Her parents imbued her with a strong sense of Indian and world history and culture and a great appreciation of diversity in all its forms.

Indrani studied English Honours and sociology in India and did her Ph.D. on the impact of British occupation on revolution and reform in West Bengal from the Australian National University. The thesis was awarded a publishing grant from the Indian Council of Social Science Research and published as The Social History of a Bengal Town, 1985.

 In 1990, Indrani married an Australian of Dutch origin with whom she lives in Brisbane. They have a son and daughter and a grandson. Her extended family now includes members from six religions and an equal number of languages who live in many countries around the world.

Since migrating to Australia in 1990, Indrani has worked in academia, government and non-government organisations. She has been a volunteer Committee Member in many community organisations which have provided a range of perspectives on Australia’s diverse communities.

Throughout this period Indrani has continued with pursuing academic and creative writing which draw on her experiences of living and working in India and Australia. For a while, Indrani was also part of a performing group called United by Pen which brought together writers and musicians from diverse backgrounds. While the group has dispersed, some of the members remain friends and they are always happy to support each other’s achievements.

After retiring from full-time work in July 2018, Indrani joined the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Queensland and is working on contributing more to the writers’ groups (including the Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland and the Society of Women Writers of Queensland) of which she is a Committee member. She is also involved in other community activities such as assisting a women’s refuge to get support in cash and kind and promoting women’s achievements through community events and journals.

In 2015, Indrani put together an anthology of her stories, poems and articles called In My Father’s House which was launched at her 25th wedding anniversary in Brisbane. She recently published her first novel The Rose and the Thorn in 2019. She has begun to do the research for the sequel.  

Reading in three languages (English, Bengali and Hindi), travel, theatre and cinema, trying out different cuisines and engaging with people from diverse backgrounds are Indrani’s other interests.

 

Trudy Graham

Trudy has been writing seriously since the 1990s with short stories, book reviews, articles and some poems published in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers. During the past 30 plus years she has worked as an independent publisher and editor, taught creative writing, and facilitated workshops in writing, editing, and publishing.

After graduating from university as a mature-aged student, Trudy began to work in the Arts community of Western Australia, serving on the Joondalup (WA) Cultural Advisory Committee and as State Literature Officer of Western Australia in 1995-97. For her services to The Arts in that state, she received an Australia Day Award in 1996. She is passionate about helping writers achieve their writing goals.

Relocating from the Toowoomba region to a village in the Noosa hinterland in 2017, Trudy began writing her memoirs and to date three of these have been published. A collection of her short stories was published in  2020 and she is currently working on a novella and continues writing short fiction.

Trudy is a voracious reader and is a member of three book discussion groups where she gets to share her love of literature with like-minded people. She has been involved with the Women Writers in WA and Qld since 1989, serving in both states on committee in various roles. Hooked on travel from the time she first left home at aged 18, Trudy has explored most of Australia and many parts of the world.

 

Di Hill

Di was born in Adelaide in South Australia. While an enthusiastic learner, she was a keen Girl Guide, meeting with Lady Baden Powell and later earning the Queen’s Guide Award.

A teaching career is what Di wanted when at school – but instead, she embarked on a nursing career in her late teens and trained as a nurse in Mt Gambier, South Australia.

After her marriage, the family moved around Australia, so she has worked in hospitals in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.  As well she was a medical representative, shopping centre marketing manager, art gallery owner and more – often holding two or more positions at a time.

Di completed a degree in Adult and Vocational Teaching at Griffith University in 2002, working in the training industry.  At last, she was a teacher!  In 2008, Di embarked on a career teaching English to students at universities in China and South Korea.

In 2012 she graduated from Swinburne University with a Master of Arts (Writing) and then set out on a solo drive around Australia taking five months to complete the journey, taking thousands of photographs and visiting many interesting historical destinations in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In 2020 she graduated as an instructor from the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies, in the USA.

She founded the Writers of Wynnum Manly and The Bayside Women in Business, is a member of the Queensland Writers Centre and is past president of the Society of Women Writers Qld. (2017/18, 2018/19) She was a member of the International Society of Obituary Writers.  She is currently on the management committee of the Older Women’s Network Qld.

Di is a Senior Writer for WeekendNotes.com and writes content for a number of websites. Di has many interests including photography, bamboo, life story writing, travelling, housing for senior solo women, and more. 

She shares her stories as a speaker on topics, including Life Story Writing, Living in China, Writing your Own Obituary and Writing Topics.

Email – di@dihill.com.au

Website – www.dihill.com.au

 

Virginia Miranda

Virginia began writing in high school and was first published in the Brisbane State High School Year book, 1966.

In 1976 her story ‘The Enchanted Valley’, a story about Fraser Island in the future, was published in the QIT magazine, Unit 76.

In the 70’s and 80’s Virginia’s short stories were published in ‘Me’ magazine.

As Public Relations Officer for Beenleigh Air Sea Rescue, she wrote a weekly column in the Albert &Logan News.

Virginia is a member of Byron Writers Festival, Brisbane Writers Centre, Brisbane Writers Festival and The Society of Women Writers. She is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Fellowship of Australian Writers Qld.

In 2014 she began a 52 Week Flash Fiction Challenge on Facebook. Her first book ‘FlashFiction Volume One is a compilation of these stories. The book was recently launched at the Cleveland Lions Community Centre, to wide acclaim.

“They say the best examples of a fine Chianti are a visceral tasting experience; an intense sense of place developing with just a single sip. The same can be said of this collection of flash fiction shorts.” Review by Dimity Powell – Children’s author.

Her style is emotive and evocative, demonstrating her love for the written word.

‘For me writing is about the words, how they come together, where they take the reader. The art of good Flash Fiction is to deliver a subtle message in the least amount of words. I believe my book has achieved this.’

Virginia’s Website – www.inkblurb.com

Facebook – Virginia’s Inkblurb

 

Sue O’Sullivan

Sue is a photographer by profession and has worked for various newspapers to which she continues to contribute the odd article and photographs.

Her writing mainly revolves around essays, usually biographical in nature; she has a large family hence no shortage of subject matter!

Whilst living in a small country town she produced, wrote and choreographed plays and pantomimes for school children. Wherever she has lived she has been involved in amateur dramatics – nerve-wracking but stimulating!

She is currently a guide at the Queensland Art Gallery and is involved in other voluntary work.

She was educated in NSW and Victoria, and attained a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Lit).

 

Helga Parl

Writing in English, came late into Helga’s life. After working for forty five years as a draftsman with painting as hobby, it was time to do something new. She started writing and illustrating children’s stories. Then came her first and self-published novella, Brisbane, Bach and Brandenburg—Hunt for the Seventh Concerto.

After joining Fairfield Writers she contributed to their five Anthologies, with stories and cover designs.

Joining the Society of Women Writers Queensland, gave her another boost into creativity. Two more books were the result: Pixels—Short Stories, and a novel, Angela and Her Boys.

Most of her works were self-published in conjunction with Rainbow Works Pty Ltd, and launched at the Fairfield Garden Library.

 

 Jill Slack

Writer, poet, humourist, community, family historian, retiree from journalism (day job until 2008) and keen amateur photographer, Jill Slack joined Society of Women Writers Australia (Qld) in the early 1980s under the mentorship of Marjorie Wilkie.  She succeeded Marjorie a little later as editor of the postal workshop Morialta.  Later, she became co-ordinator of Queensland branch’s ‘family’ of postal workshops and also served a term as SWWA’s federal newsletter editor.

Jill’s writings have attracted various prizes in short story, article and poetry
competitions as well as publication.  She has written a number of community history books – including one for Gayndah Hospital, as well as ‘Then and Now: an Aboriginal history of Gayndah’ which won a national award for community history in the 1990s, and ‘Next Stop Ga-ayn- dah: 100 years of Gayndah Rail’.  One of her poems ‘Requiem for a Country Town’ was taken up in the United Kingdom as English study and exam material for the 2011 GCSE.

Her family histories to date have included a humorous book for family only on her four children’s growing up years (titled ‘The Scenic Route’ because having and raising children is so much like veering off a nice smooth bitumen road in favour of an unsigned dirt track littered with fallen trees, gullies and mysterious secondary turn-offs) and her own childhood (‘Imagine A Farm’) because of her father’s habit of selling the farm every two minutes and moving the family to yet another one.  Later came a more ambitious and for- public tome on her father’s maternal family history (‘Tilly’s World’) and another on her mother’s descendants (‘A World Away’).

In other writing activities, she spent six weeks as Artist In Resident at Gayndah High School, was writing mentor for a period at Gin Gin High School, and writing workshop leader in Gayndah. She has edited books for others, and co-ordinated and edited a one-off anthology, ‘Voices From Elsewhere’, of Morialtans’ works.

About two years, she veered off into what became a product of the long drought – a series of 20-page photobooks of humorously captioned photos, all snapped on the farm and outlying areas, of ‘Tree People Characters’. Another more current project is a similar series of photobooks which feature her own photographs as background for her country-based poetry.

One of her poems will be published in this year’s Grieve anthology.

 

Joan Turnour

Joan was born in Malta in 1931 when ‘Britannia ruled the waves’ and her father was part of the Grand Fleet.  She was evacuated to England in 1939 and spent her school years in Surrey, England.  She migrated to Australia as a $10 Pom in 1952. From the suburbs of Melbourne Joan ventured to the Great Barrier Reef as a hostess on Heron Island, and then continued on to Darwin where she met and married John (Jack) Turnour, the rice agronomist at Humpty Doo.  Together they pioneered 3000 hectares, first with horticulture and a banana plantation, into a thriving pasture seed and cattle property.  In 1970 they left the Territory and explored the Top End and the East Coast with their four children.   They settled in Conondale where Jack established a cattle property for Sydney investors which later became the permaculture village of Crystal Waters.

In 1973 Jack joined an Aid Team in Samar, a poor province in the Philippines, and for the next twenty five years continued in both The Philippines and Indonesia.   Joan put the two oldest children into boarding school and home-schooled her two youngest.  In 1983 to improve her Indonesian language she enrolled in an Associate Diploma of Arts (Asian Studies) by distance education with the Darling Downs Institute.  This involved assignments and her writing career commenced.  During her final years in Manila Joan wrote for the expatriate paper and started her autobiography.

Upon her return in 1995 Joan joined SWWQ.  In 2005 she was elected President and to mark the 30th anniversary of the Society coordinated the anthology ‘Behind the Faces’.  SWWQ  received a grant to cover costs of the book launch with 200 guests at Lennon’s Hotel in November 2006.   Together with Corinne Soda, Joan convened the first Retreat at Bribie Island.  She put the Society online with a web page and with the help of Di Hill started the blog.  Together with Elli Housden she also arranged poetry workshops.

Joan published the first half of her autobiography in 2011.  Unfortunately, her husband suffered a stroke and because he could no longer climb stairs she was forced to sell the house. They moved to a retirement village at Noosaville.  Joan came down to meetings in 2012, taking the train from Nambour, but this became too difficult.  She joined a local book group and enjoys the annual Noosa Long Weekend; a festival of literary lunches, forums and book launches held each July.  But she maintains membership of this Society.   Joan is now at the publishing stage of the second part of her autobiography covering her expatriate years.

Joan’s husband died in July 2016 and she was greatly touched when three members attended his funeral service.   This confirmed her belief that the Society brings women together for more than writing workshops and fosters lasting friendships.

 

Sue Wagner

A Late Bloomer.

She was born in the quiet and peaceful Wye Valley of England where her school-teacher Mum had been evacuated from the Blitz in London. Sue loved school and enjoyed most of the eight schools she went to, including two army schools in the Middle East Land Forces prior to the Suez Crisis evacuation.

School number seven was a Girls Grammar School in Kent, and that was where, at age 13, school stopped being fun for Sue. She had always been a keen reader but at that school she found it impossible to parlay her love of reading into the ability to write an essay. She failed GCE ‘O’ level (Junior exam to you) in English Language and English Literature. Her father was not a little displeased that she could pass French (and Maths) but not her own native language! Sue passed English the following year when it was mixed with shorthand and typing at the start of her working career.

Two years with IBM in London and then came Australia, marriage, children, divorce – no time for anything but kids and work.

Sue’s writing became business writing. Continuing to study while working and raising a family Sue did a BA at UQ majoring in English then followed it up with an MBA at Griffith. By this time she was working with a software company, training users and writing the manuals.

Writing for fun started with the idea that one’s (by now grown) children actually don’t know much about their own history and they might want to someday. Then came that “I need to write about that” notion and the joining of SWWQ where participation in a Postal Magazine group encouraged her to learn from other writers.

Sue volunteers at Braille House where she is one of a team of people who transcribe text into braille. This activity means that she can do something she feels is really useful at the same time as reading all types of materials including books in all sorts of genres for all age groups.

 

Mocco Wollert

Mocco Wollert came to Australia from Germany in 1958. A migrant, wife, grandmother and great-grandmother she has a lot to draw from, writing in English and German.

She has spent a lifetime writing poetry, publishing 8 books of poetry, many in combination with art.  She has also created a series of 10 children’s books about a cat called Miss Applebee.

Widely published in Literary magazines, newspapers and anthologies, she has also won numerous prizes in literary competitions.  Her memoir about life in Darwin was published by the Literary Society of N.T. in 2017.

Mocco, along with Marj Wilke, were instrumental in the formation of the Society of Women Writers, Queensland.

In 2017 Mocco was Vice President of the Society of Women Writers Queensland.