When a beloved author dies, there is consolation in knowing that their books – the culminated words of a lifetime in letters – outlive them and tether us to their memory. However, the beauty of those words isn’t simply a static point in time; it continues to evolve in the minds of the writers and thinkers who follow them. Four Festival guests reflect on the powerful work of four writers taken from us in the past year. This session of reflection, tribute and celebration features Michelle de Kretser on Sydney literary great Elizabeth Harrower; Kerry O’Brien on legendary political reporter Mungo MacCallum; Michael Robotham on spy master John le Carré; and Sally Warhaft on renowned historian and travel writer Jan Morris.
Michelle de Kretser (Australian)
Michelle de Kretser is a writer who lives in Sydney. Her fiction has won several awards, including the Miles Franklin. Her most recent work is a long-form essay, On Shirley Hazzard. Her new novel, Scary Monsters, will be published in October, 2021.
Kerry O’Brien (Australian)
Kerry O'Brien is a journalist and author best known for his 33 years at the ABC, including 15 years as the editor and anchor of The 7.30 Report, six years as the inaugural anchor of Lateline and five years as the anchor of Four Corners. His four-part ABC interview series with former prime minister Paul Keating was critically acclaimed and expanded into a bestselling book. His latest book, a memoir, is an intimate and groundbreaking account of the big milestone moments of the post-war era.
Michael Robotham (Australian)
Before becoming a novelist, Michael Robotham was an investigative journalist working across America, Australia and Britain. As a journalist and writer, he investigated notorious cases such as the serial killer couple Fred and Rosemary West. He has worked with clinical and forensic psychologists as they helped police investigate complex, psychologically driven crimes. Michael’s 2004 debut thriller, The Suspect, sold more than 1 million copies around the world. It is the first of nine novels featuring beloved Joe O’Loughlin. Good Girl, Bad Girl is the first book in an exciting new series featuring forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven and was shortlisted for the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Novel. Michael is the only Australian to win the UK’s prestigious Gold Dagger Award twice – for Good Girl, Bad Girl and Life or Death. In 2020, The Secrets She Keeps was adapted for television. Michael’s most recent novel is When She Was Good.
Sally Warhaft (Australian)
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and interviewer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, The Fifth Estate. She is a former editor of The Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia. Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC Radio and has a PhD in anthropology.
Chris Taylor (Australian)
Chris Taylor is a writer, performer and broadcaster who's best known as a member of The Chaser team, responsible for tv comedy shows such as CNNNN and The Chaser's War on Everything. More recently, he was the creator, co-writer and producer of the critically acclaimed drama Upright for Foxtel. He's just signed a six-figure deal with Hardie Grant to write his very first tweet, expected to be published in 2028.