Admonished or admired for their moxie, ‘difficult women’ make themselves heard, challenge the status quo and shun gendered notions of niceness. In this panel event, two authors reflect on the difficult women who grace the pages of their books, sometimes with no grace at all. What makes these characters so striking? And why do we need them in the world? Anne Casey-Hardy (Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls) and Fiona Kelly McGregor (Iris) share the stage with interviewer Sophie Cunningham.

Anne Casey-Hardy (Australian)

Anne Casey-Hardy

Anne Casey-Hardy was born in Fremantle and grew up in Melbourne as the oldest of seven children. Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls, published by Scribner in 2022, is her first book. Her award-winning short stories and poetry have been published in Meanjin, Island Magazine, Overland, Kill Your Darlings, Westerly and several anthologies. Anne has previously worked as a research librarian and advocate for families of premature babies. She lives in Melbourne's west with her husband, on Bunurong land.

Fiona Kelly McGregor (Australian)

Fiona Kelly McGregor

Fiona Kelly McGregor's most recent novel Iris is shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Award and was longlisted for the Stella Prize. Previously, Indelible Ink won Age Book of the Year. Her non-fiction includes Buried Not Dead, shortlisted for the VPLA, photo-essay A Novel Idea, and memoir Strange Museums. Earlier fiction includes QLD literary award-winner Suck my toes/Dirt. McGregor writes for The Saturday Paper, The Sydney Morning Herald and more, is known for a large repertoire of performance art and event curation, and lives on Gadigal land.

Sophie Cunningham (Australian)

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie Cunningham is the author of nine books, including the novel This Devastating Fever and the essay collection City of Trees. She is also a teacher, mentor, climate change activist and every day she posts an image of a tree on her Instagram @sophtreeofday. A Member of the Order of Australia for her contributions to literature, Sophie is the Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and an executive director of the Copyright Agency.