Judges

Panel sizes may vary among categories – and from year to year – depending on the perceived workload required and the availability of judges for a particular category. However, each panel will consist of at least three judges, one of which will be the panel convenor.

Judges are volunteers and are drawn from the speculative fiction community; from diverse professions and backgrounds, and may include academics, booksellers, librarians, published authors, publishing industry professionals, reviewers and enthusiasts. The only qualification necessary is a demonstrated knowledge of and interest in their chosen category.

Being an Aurealis Awards judge involves reading entries in a single category, which may comprise several dozen novels and/or more than a hundred short stories in the process of evaluating the year’s entries. Judges may keep their reading copies of entries.

It is vital that judges be able to work as part of a team and meet stringent deadlines. Most of the judges’ discussions are conducted via an online forum or email.

All discussions are confidential between the judges in each panel and the judging coordinator and/or the Aurealis Awards management team, as required. The Aurealis Awards judging coordinator will have no input into these decisions unless a panel of judges is unable to reach a consensus.

Judges from previous Aurealis Awards processes are welcome – indeed encouraged – to re-apply. But, in the interests of transparency and impartiality, no one may judge the same category for more than two consecutive years, and a break of two consecutive years is required before a judge can reapply to be a judge in that particular category again.

Because fantasy and science fiction are the largest categories, they have been split into two separate judging panels, one for novels and one for short stories.

All judges for the Aurealis Awards will accept works electronically and will each nominate their preferred electronic file format. We strongly encourage submission of files in epub and mobi formats, although rtf, doc and pdf files may be accepted.

The winner of the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be reached by a consensus of the convenors of each of the judging panels.

Aurealis Awards finalists and winners in each category are selected by our judges.


2017 Judging Panels

Judging Coordinator: Tehani Croft 

Novel Short Story / Novella
Science Fiction Stephanie Gunn (panel convenor)

Chris Lampard

Carol Ryles

Nola Cavallaro

Gene Melzack (panel convenor)

Anna Hepworth

Fergus McCartan

Imogen Cassidy

Mark Fazackerley

Fantasy Russell Kirkpatrick (panel convenor)

Astrid Edwards

Deb Gates

Yvonne L Barrett

Ali MacGregor

Rob Porteous (panel convenor)

Andrei Seleznev

Maureen Flynn

Paula Boer

Shel Sweeney

Horror Matthew R. Davis (panel convenor)

Paige Belfield

Christine Yunn-Yu Sun

Tom Woodward

Emma Kate (panel convenor)

Talitha Kalago

Durand Welsh

Holly Harper

Young Adult Belle McQuattie (panel convenor)

Kirsten Reim

Laura Birch

Nicole Gosling

Jessica Harvie

Children’s
Fiction
Miffy Farquharson (panel convenor)

Caitlin Chisholm

Sharon Smith

Kerry Armstrong

Other Illustrated Work / Graphic Novel Anthology / Collection
Lyn Battersby (panel convenor)

Jacqueline Wheadon

Emilly McLeay

Cassandra White

Kimberley Gaal

Cathie Tasker (panel convenor)

Jenna O’Connell

Abigail Nathan

Lorraine Cormack

Sara Douglass Book Series Award Convenors’ Award for Excellence
Not running in 2017 All panel convenors

Judges’ Bios 2017


Science Fiction: Novel

Stephanie Gunn is a Ditmar and Aurealis Award nominated writer of speculative fiction.  In another life, she was a scientist, but now spends her time reading, reviewing, and writing.  She has judged various panels of the Aurealis Awards since 2011.  She is currently working on several contemporary fantasy novels, and lives in Perth with her husband, son and requisite cat.  She can be found online at www.stephaniegunn.com.

Chris Lampard has been reading science fiction and fantasy for many years. After careering for a while, he spent 10 years wandering NZ and Australia as a nomadic gardener. He’s currently resting near Perth, growing vegetables, Western Australian plants and plans for another bout of wandering.

Carol Ryles reads from a wide variety of genres, but science fiction has always been her favourite since the age of ten. She is a graduate of Clarion West 2008 and her stories have appeared in over a dozen Australian anthologies such as Eidolon and The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. While completing her PhD, which focused on creative writing in the subgenre of steampunk, she worked as a steering committee member and editorial consultant for Trove, an online journal of creative arts from The University of Western Australia. Her website can be found at http://www.carolryles.net

Nola Cavallaro
The combination of a vibrant, bilingual folkloric tradition and books not toys as companions in early childhood, has meant that words and stories are an integral part of my life. I am a reader, a writer, a graphic artist and a storyteller with a passion for learning. I have a Masters of Writing and Literature; have judged a range of literary competitions, edited fiction and academic writing in print and digital formats and written book reviews for journals and online websites. I am a librarian but have also worked as a teacher with a focus on literacy and literature. I read broadly (fiction and non-fiction) and am particularly drawn to writing that challenges our perceptions. My family and I live off the grid in South Australia, on a peri-urban bush property. Our regular visitors are wildlife, with the occasional lost tourist needing re-direction.

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Science Fiction: Short Story / Novella

Gene Melzack is a short story reader by preference and long-time speculative fiction reader and fan. In the past he has reviewed for semi-prozines such as Strange Horizons and academic journals such as Foundation. He served as secretary of the Science Fiction Foundation from 2004-2005 and was features co-editor of Vector, the journal of the British Science Fiction Association from 2005-2006. He was sub-editor for review site Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus from 2008-2009. He has previously served as a judge for the British Science Fiction Association’s non-fiction award and for the Aurealis Awards in the Collection/Anthology and Fantasy Short Story/Novella categories.

Anna Hepworth is a long time speculative fiction reader based in Western Australia who has dabbled in a number of fannish community activities, including running conventions, reading for the Aurealis Awards, and editing small press magazines. Of these, the Aurealis Awards is definitely the current favourite (who me, butter up the bosses?), mostly because reading goes just as nicely with a wet afternoon on the couch with a cup of tea and a sunny day at the park. Anna’s alternative entertainments include educating young adults, learning new and different ways that people can mess up data and statistics, and raising teenagers.

Fergus McCartan is a reviewer, blogger and interviewer, and when his head isn’t stuck in a book he likes to entertain the delusion of finishing his first novel (hopefully within his own lifetime) and pretending his skill in playing the guitar is more like Hendrix and less like Dave Lister (that’s a Red Dwarf joke in case you were wondering). As an Irish man in Queensland he frequently wishes for the cooler climate of Hoth, but some dreams probably won’t come true. This is his third year as a judge and he is very excited to get started, so much so he made pew pew noises when selected.

Imogen is a 40 year old mother-of-two who escaped High School English teaching to pursue writing and parenthood. She hopes she is doing okay at both. She just recently completed her Master of Writing at Swinburne University, and is now devoting at least thirty percent more of her time to creating fiction, rather than writing about creating fiction. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her long-suffering husband, two children, two tropical fish and a cavoodle called Bowie. Imogen’s fiction has appeared in Devilfish Review, The Colored Lens, and Aurealis.


Mark is a executive in the IT industry in his 50s who has been a sci-fi and fantasy fan since bedridden with pneumonia as a kid for two winters in his native New Zealand. Starship Troopers and Isaac Asimov was a great introduction to the genre and subsequently Mark has had a life-long love of sci-fi and quality writing. Now a resident of Sydney Mark reads may genres voraciously with a stated primary goal of reading good quality writing, but with a high tolerance level for B grade sci-fi. A frustrated writer himself he has the ubiquitous novel-in-progress that will likely have to wait until retirement – meanwhile he gets his writing fix as a popular amateur food and travel writer. Mark has been a reader for Aurealis magazine since 2014.

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Fantasy: Novel

Russell Kirkpatrick is originally from New Zealand but now lives in Canberra, Australia. He has written two fantasy trilogies, published by HarperCollins in Australasia and Orbit in the UK and US markets, and is a three-time Julius Vogel award winner. His debut novel, Across The Face Of The World, was the biggest-selling debut fantasy novel in the USA in 2008. Until 2014 he was a part-time lecturer in Geography at the University of Waikato and has had a number of non-fiction titles published, including the New Zealand Historical Atlas (winner of the Montana People’s Choice award in 1998) and Contemporary Atlas New Zealand (Montana awards finalist). His latest non-fiction project, Walks to Waterfalls, was published in November 2011.

Astrid Edwards is Director at Bad Producer Productions, Vice Chair of the Committee of Management at Writer’s Victoria, and professional writing teacher at RMIT University. She has been addicted to fantasy and science fiction since she was a teenager, and reads anything and everything. Her latest favourites are Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive and Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. Astrid spends a great deal of time reading and drinking coffee (preferably in a bookstore).


Deb Gates is an avid reader of all kinds of Spec Fic, especially fantasy by Australian authors. She does the odd bit of proofreading and has done a bit of study on editing and writing which she hopes to continue in the future. Deb throws the occasional few words down on paper, always in longhand, and enjoys a writers group in Melbourne when she has time to attend. She has previously judged the fantasy short story section of the Aurealis Awards and is looking forward to judging the fantasy novel award this year.

Yvonne Barrett is a K-12 teacher librarian who has worked in Australian and international schools over the course of her teaching career. Books and reading are an integral part of her life. As a librarian she has shared her love of reading and literature with her students to develop strong reading culture in her schools. She is an advocate of Communities of Practice, with the belief that conversation is where everything begins in order to create new practices and knowledge, share understandings and cultivate a collective voice.
While Yvonne enjoys reading a variety of fiction, the fantasy genre is a lifelong passion. Her three children are all avid readers and many a conversation has been shared about new authors and favourite books. Her grandchildren are following suit!  Yvonne has recently completed a Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) but is excited to be a ‘newbie’ judge for the Aurealis Awards as she enjoys a ‘senior’s gap year’ which has allowed her to be closer to family since her recent move from Singapore to the Tweed Valley of New South Wales.

Ali MacGregor graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Literary and Cultural Studies in mid 2016, and has since sought out a career in the publishing industry. She has previously worked as the copyeditor of Colosoul Magazine and the Editor of The Australia Times Film Magazine, whilst also completing editorial internships at Margaret River Press and Westerly Magazine. She is an avid reader of speculative fiction and very excited to join the judging panel for the Aurealis Awards for the first time this year.

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Fantasy: Short Story / Novella

Rob Porteous writes science fiction and fantasy stories. His short stories have been published in ASIM and overseas. In 2013, he co-edited ‘Next’, a collection of Australian spec-fic short stories with Simon Petrie. He is currently working on a debut fantasy novel.

Andrei Seleznev is a Russian-Australian writer of speculative and literary fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in various publications both in Australia and overseas, and is informed by magical realism, the post-Soviet diaspora, and the Australian immigrant experience. He has been an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction since youth. Outside of the literary world, he works in cancer research as a bioinformatician and plays bass in the band Lorikeet. He is based in Melbourne and can be found online at www.andreiseleznev.com.

Maureen is a speculative fiction lover, writer and fan. She works for a disability provider in sunny Wollongong by day, and writes and reads furiously by night. She is part of a writers group and a critique group for speculative fiction works, writes Doctor Who reviews on her blog, InkAshlings, and has penned a couple of YA novels, a crime novel and a verse novel which are either looking for a home or she is furiously rewriting. One day her partner fears she may actually squash flat under the weight of her current to read pile. Luckily she wouldn’t have it any other way. You can find her on her blog, on Twitter or at your next local spec fic event.

Paula Boer is the author of the Amazon best-selling Brumbies series. Her love of fantasy began with reading Elyne Mitchell’s The Silver Brumby series as a child (plus any other horse books) and went on to include classics such as Lord of the Rings, the Thomas Covenant Chronicles, and Clan of the Cave Bear. Her favourite authors at the moment are Kate Elliot, Brandon Sanderson, and Robin Hobb. She is a member of the Australian Society of Authors, conducts creative writing workshops, and participates at writers’ festivals. Paula also judges for the annual EPIC New Voice Young Writers short story competition and is a submissions reader for SQ Mag (a speculative fiction e-zine). She is currently working on a fantasy series set in a horse world complete with unicorns and dragons.

Shel Sweeney
Having made up stuff since the age of eight, Shel is now an independent publishing personnel: freelance writer, editor and writing mentor at http://awordedlife.com.
Shel has been writing stories, plays, poems, journals, letters and songs since she was eight years old. When she was confused and needed to find clarity or simply when she wanted to play and create, Shel turned her attention to the written word. Later, in working with homeless adolescents and secondary school students, Shel saw the value of the written word as an avenue for self- expression and transformation.
Shel is a firm believer that words have the power to effect change, to define worlds and to transform lives.

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Horror: Novel / Novella

Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide.  He has almost thirty publication credits around the world for his dark fiction, is a member of the AHWA and the SA Writers Centre, and has recently been shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award.  When not working on short stories and novel manuscripts – or the dreaded Day Job – he plays bass and sings in alt/prog/metal band icecocoon, and also performs poetry and fiction at spoken word events.  This is his second year as an Aurealis Awards judge.  Check him out at matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com.

Paige Belfield is a writer and freelance editor from Sydney. She will often be so immersed in a book that she will forget to eat, or worse she will let her coffee go cold. Though she prefers to read horror or fantasy, a good book of any genre will get her raving about it for weeks on end. When she needs a break from the written word she volunteers at conventions around Australia or assists with the design and construction of sets and props. Most days, however, Paige spends her time arguing with the cat over whose turn it is on the laptop. The cat often wins.

Christine Yunn-Yu Sun is a bilingual writer, translator, reader and reviewer based in Melbourne. She is a long-term horror fan, mainly of Stephen King, yet she has also read, enjoyed and reviewed a diverse range of horror writings and films in both Chinese and English languages.
Christine helps emerging and established English-language authors, literary agents and publishers to translate, publish and promote their titles as digital and print books to the Chinese World. She also helps Chinese-language authors within and outside of China to promote their writings to the World. In her spare time, she writes book reviews and short horror stories for fun.


Tom Woodward discovered Redwall and Star Wars novels in year 5 and has been lost in speculative fiction ever since, and now Terry Pratchett is his favourite author. Horror is a more recent interest, stemming from b-grade zombie and sci-fi/horror films. Now he is grown up, Tom tries to read more widely, and is currently a member of a couple of book clubs. In his spare time Tom likes to play board games and try out different craft beers with his mates.

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Horror: Short Story


Emma Kate
Although trained in the deadly arts of teacher-librarianship and used them on youth for many years, Em has since moved on to other things. Em is a huge fan of horror, in both written and visual mediums, and can even watch horror movies with the lights out. She has been reading spec fic for as long as she can remember, and watching it for longer. She dipped her toe into the friendly waters of fandom a decade ago through her writing and the connections that made, and dived in as gleefully as one can. She loves having conversations about pop culture and loves to promote Australian works to anyone who will listen.

Talitha is a geeky Australian author who spends an unhealthy amount of time reading, playing video games and watching horror movies. She also loves fresh water shrimps and snakes. She advises that shrimps are the best companions for writers; as they always look like they are typing. Snakes on the other hand, simply knock everything off your desk—including keyboards, mugs, entire computers and shrimp tanks. Talitha’s other interests include entomology, psychology and sociology, rock climbing, aquascaping, web design, photography and graphic design. She also writes romance novels under a pseudonym. There is a 30% chance she is watching a horror movie as you read this. Her website can be found here: http://www.traditionalevolution.com/

Durand Welsh resides in Sydney and is a 2016 finalist in the Aurealis short horror fiction category. He has had short stories published in several venues, including the anthology Midian Unmade with Tor. He especially enjoys horror fiction with a literary bent, including the work of Laird Barron, Dan Chaon, John Langan and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Holly Harper As a kid, Holly Harper ran her school’s first and only Goosebumps library, giving specialised recommendations to her classmates based on how much horror they could handle. She now works as a children’s bookseller at one of Melbourne’s best-loved bookstores doing much the same thing.
When Holly’s not selling books, she’s writing them: she’s published fourteen books for children, including the Star League and Bureau of Mysteries series. All of her books contain plenty of zombies, ninjas, werewolves, magic and mystery. She’s currently writing the first book in a new series about witches.
Holly lives in country Victoria with five cats and one human. When she’s not doing something book-related, she’s usually bushwalking, video-gaming, horror movie watching or bone collecting.

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Young Adult

Bellica Australis. Habitat: Melbourne. Attends, plays and cons.

Voracious reader and online reviewer, Belle McQuattie has been devouring fantasy for almost as long as she’s been reading. Belle is now in her third year of judging, and has accepted that she will never climb out from under the hundreds of books occupying her house. She can be found on twitter @theresaninkspot and blogging at http://www.thereareinkspotsonmypage.com

Kirsten Reim was a library monitor in year 6, and it was then that she decided to become a librarian. She never really deviated from that path except when she wanted to become a ballerina. For the last 20 (ish) years she has worked as a teacher librarian and librarian in schools of all sizes and in all sectors, with her main goal of sharing her passion for books – especially those for young adults. In 2008-2009 she was the CBCA NSW Branch Book of the Year judge, and this further ignited her love of children’s literature, so much so that she went on to study creative writing for a brief period. She has now decided she is a much better reader than writer and is excited to be a judge for the Aurealis Awards for her second year!

Laura Birch is not quite but almost one day will be a writer – having only racked up three rejection letters so far. Laura is currently working on her honors’s degree in literature and creative writing looking at the works of China Mieville, the Weird, and Uncanny Narratives. Never leaving home without a book, Laura started her love of speculative fiction with high fantasy but has spent years steadily making her way through all the subgenres speculative fiction has to offer. A reader for Aurealis Magazine and a SciFi novel panelist for the 2016 Aurealis Awards, Laura is excited start reading for this years awards in a new genre.

Nicole Gosling has been a lover of fantasy and sci-fi for as long as she can remember, although she will read almost anything. As a teacher for 15 years, she had a keen interest in keeping up to date with Young Adult releases and these now make up the bulk of her reading, even though she is no longer in the classroom. Nicole is a contributor to the US based YA review site Reading Lark (readinglark.blogspot.com) and runs Nicole Has Read (nicolehasread.blogspot.com). She is an #AusYABloggers moderator and supporter of the #LoveOZYA movement. Nicole is an active member of the book community on Twitter (@nicolehasread) and Instagram (@Nicole_Has_Read). Her favourite author is Sara Douglass.

Jessica has loved science fiction since she was a child, with Star Trek being a staple of her childhood. Always reading, it wasn’t long until she hooked on to sci-fi and never let go. After finishing a degree in Children’s Literature, she wrote a thesis exploring the use of post-apocalyptic tropes in YA and Children’s fiction, focusing on their use post-1980s nuclear threat. Now she tweets about scifi, queer ecofeminism, YA and #LoveOzYA over at @jlharvie.

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Children’s Fiction

Miffy Farquharson has been working in libraries for 25 years across the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors. She was the CBCA Vic Branch Book of the Year judge in 2008-2009, WAPBA judge in 2011-2012 and has five previous stints as an Aurealis judge and panel convenor. Miffy has a particular interest in speculative fiction and books for young people in general, and is looking forward to reading entries in the 2017 awards.

Caitlin Chisholm has been an avid reader of anything she can get her hands on since she’s been able to read. She is currently living in Darwin where she studies pharmacy. When not trying to memorise every drug in existence, she enjoys hiking and talking about whatever book she is currently reading. This is her second year judging for the Aurealis Awards.

Sharon Smith is currently the Children’s and Youth Services Librarian for the Riverina Regional Library, developing and presenting literacy programs for the community members of 13 local government areas. Sharon is experienced in public, school and medical library work, with a few stints as a receptionist during the day and hilarious sleep deprived stints as a waitress at night. An avid reader herself, especially of dystopian youth fiction, Sharon is a passionate advocate for literacy and encourages the use of words for all ages in all formats… because our stories can be told in many ways!

Kerry Armstrong
In February 2008 I accepted the position of product manager at Scholastic Australia and was dispatched to the annual sales conference in the US. While there I read the manuscript of The Hunger Games, I believe, becoming the first person in Australia to do so! And so began my love affair with the world of publishing for younger readers. Every day I am amazed at the passion and care taken with creating a picture book, the opportunity to create mayhem in junior fiction and the complexity of worlds and characters created in novels for young adults. I now sit at my desk at HarperCollins Publishers and mostly think about selling Australian books overseas. My opinions remain my own.

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Illustrated Work/Graphic Novel

Writer plus wife plus mother plus teaching student at Murdoch and fully integrated Intern at a Perth high school (teaching secondary English) = Exhausted. This year Lyn Battersby made a solemn and binding vow to her husband NOT to judge the Aurealis Awards. She lied. And now she’s a convenor.
She loves to write, but hasn’t really found the time since starting her English degree. She loves to read, but hasn’t really found the time since starting her Grad Dip Ed. She loves her family, but hasn’t really found the time since starting her Internship. She loves Candy Crush but hasn’t really found the time since moving from “praccie” to “actual class-room planner and teacher-in-fact if not law”. Another lie. There’s always time for Candy Crush. She lives in suburban Western Australia with her beloved husband Lee and two of their five children. She plans on ruining their lives by moving rural as soon as she graduates.
True story.

Jacqueline Wheadon
I am a lifetime reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all its many various formats. I work to fund my never ending thirst of all things speculative as a Librarian at a Primary School and University. What I bring to this role is a long established passion and ability to read, analyse and critique works for a wide range of readers. I am fortunate to have a son and partner who understand that sometimes the call of other realms will take me away from them for extended periods as I boldly go where no Jac has been before

Emilly McLeay is a librarian partly because of Terry Pratchett and also because of Melbourne’s science fiction fandom community. As a punk-ass book jockey her work involves buying graphic novels with other people’s money and helping ten year olds build video games. She has worked on many sf fan conventions and twice officiated in the world’s largest roller derby tournament. She is a card carrying member of the local women’s comic book club who makes zines about everything, particularly about making zines.

Cassandra is a writer based in Melbourne. She has a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing from the University of Melbourne and was one of the Grace Marion Wilson Glenfern Fellows in 2016. This is the second time she is judging the Illustrated Works category for the Aurealis Awards.

Kimberley Gaal lives in Canberra with her husband and one year old son. She writes young adult, new adult and old adult (grown up) speculative fiction, and was very honoured to have two of her stories nominated for the 2015 Aurealis awards YA category and for one of them to be included in the Ticonderoga Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror.

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Anthology and Collection

Cathie Tasker has always been a devotee of speculative fiction. As a child she read Patricia Wrightson’s Down to Earth which began her fascination with SF&F. She quickly read every speculative fiction title she could find and continues to immerse herself in the genre. A prodigious reader across many genres, she has a particular love of short stories.
She has been a fiction editor and publisher and now works as a Creative Writing teacher for the Australian Writers’ Centre, working online and face-to-face. She also does some freelance structural editing. Cathie has previously been an Aurealis Awards judge for Fantasy novels, Science Fiction short stories and more recently Horror. She has also judged the CBCA fiction and several other awards.

Jenna O’Connell began her publishing career as an intern with independent publisher Odyssey Books. After a brief stint working in magazines, she is now the publicist for Odyssey. She has an Honours degree in English from the Australian National University and, when not adding to her already overstuffed library, is also a freelance copywriter and editor. She works across all genres of fiction, but has particular passions for sci-fi, modern literature and novels with strong female characters.

Freelance editor Abigail Nathan has run Bothersome Words Editing & Writing Services for over ten years. She has edited for Australian trade publishers including HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Hachette, as well as UK publishers including Little, Brown Book Group and Gollancz, and small presses in the USA. She also works regularly with emerging and self-publishing writers — editing, mentoring, and helping them to develop their work. She occasionally presents workshops on editing and freelancing but otherwise spends her spare time trying to get to the bottom of her to-be-read pile or watching too much TV. She can be found online as @BothersomeWords and blogs erratically at http://www.bothersomewords.com/blog.

Lorraine has been an avid reader as long as she can remember. An enthusiastic book reviewer, she enjoys discovering writers new to her and sharing good writing with others. Lorraine’s career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really interests her. Lorraine is a founding member of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG) and has reviewed for a number of different outlets. She lives in Canberra with her family.

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