“Am I Australian? Am I Canadian? Am I Jamaican? I’m all of them. And they exist inside me. And all I had to do was be responsible to that person that was inside me. So in a way, it kind of gave me that grounding…I found myself. And it had nothing to do with a country. It had to do with my own spirit and the ancestors with me.” – Sienna Brown

In the right hands, a story set in the past can shed new light on the present, set the imagination loose and make for a page-turning read. But what are an author’s responsibilities (and burdens) when it comes to telling the truth? A panel of celebrated authors of historical novels unpack the tricky business of sorting facts from fiction when putting the past to the page. Featuring 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize winner Mirandi Riwoe (Stone Sky Gold Mountain), Sienna Brown (Master of My Fate) and Miles Franklin Award winner Steven Carroll (O) with historian Clare Wright (You Daughters of Freedom).

Please note, topics such as the history and experiences of racism, including slavery, are discussed in this podcast episode. Racial slurs are also discussed as examples of historical discrimination. 

This podcast was recorded live at the 2021 Sydney Writers' Festival and is available on all major podcast platforms. 

Mirandi Riwoe (Australian)

Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review and Best Summer Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Queensland University of Technology.

Sienna Brown (Australian)

Sienna Brown

Sienna Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and grew up in Canada, where she was a professional dancer with the Toronto Dance Theatre Company. On arrival in Sydney, she was accepted into AFTRS and after graduating became an award-winning documentary director. Sienna's first novel Master Of My Fate won the 2020 MUD Literary Prize for the best debut literary novel by an Australian writer. It was also shortlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize.

Steven Carroll (Australian)

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is the multi-award winning author of twelve novels including A World of Other People (2013) , which was the joint winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Award, and The Time We Have Taken (2007), which was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the SE Asia and Pacific Region and the Miles Franklin Award in 2008. Forever Young (2015) was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award and the Prime Minister's Literary Award in 2016. A New England Affair (2017) was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award in 2018. His most recent novel is O (2020).

Clare Wright (Australian)

Clare Wright

Professor Clare Wright OAM is an award-winning historian, author, broadcaster and public commentator. Clare is currently a Principal Research Fellow and ARC Future Fellow at La Trobe University. She is the author of four works of history, including the best-selling The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (winner of the 2014 Stella Prize) and You Daughters of Freedom. Clare’s essays, op-eds and reviews have appeared widely and her academic articles have been published in leading international and national scholarly journals. In 2020, Clare was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for “services to literature and to historical research”.