Court is in session, and your favourite (or not-so-favourite) characters are set to face judgment. Join a brilliant line-up featuring some of Australia’s most talented YA writers as they defend a villainous character who they believe deserves a second chance... or accuse a long-revered character of getting away with too much for too long. Whose side will you be on? The avenged villain or problematic fave? Featuring Sarah Ayoub, Clayton Zane Comber, Sophie Gonzales, Amie Kaufman, Vanessa Len, Tobias Madden, C.S. Pacat and Astrid Scholte, and hosted by Sydney Writers’ Festival Youth Curators Ethan Beattie, Kshiti Bhat and Dhishana Sutharshan.

Astrid Scholte (Australian)

Astrid Scholte

Astrid Scholte is the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of Four Dead Queens, now published in fifteen countries. She’s spent the past fifteen years working in film, animation and television as both an artist and manager with career highlights including working on James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and Disney’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. The Vanishing Deep was released 2020, and her newest book, League of Liars, is out now.

Amie Kaufman (Australian)

Amie Kaufman

Amie Kaufman is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy including the Aurora Cycle trilogy. Her award-winning work has been translated into nearly 30 languages and several of her series are in development for film and TV. Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution, and is undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing. She is the host of the podcast Amie Kaufman on Writing. Amie lives by the sea in Melbourne with her family and an extremely large personal library.

Sophie Gonzales (Australian)

Sophie Gonzales

Sophie Gonzales writes young adult queer contemporary fiction with memorable characters, biting wit and endless heart. She is the author of The Law of Inertia, Only Mostly Devastated, Perfect on Paper and If this Gets Out (co-written with Cale Dietrich). When she isn’t writing, Sophie can be found ice skating, performing in musical theatre, and practising the piano.

C.S. Pacat (Australian)

C.S. Pacat

C.S. Pacat is the New York Times and USA-Today best-selling author of Dark Rise, the Captive Prince trilogy, and the GLAAD-nominated graphic novels Fence. Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, C.S. Pacat has since lived in a number of cities, including Tokyo and Perugia, and currently resides and writes in Melbourne.

Tobias Madden (Australian)

Tobias Madden

Originally from Ballarat, Tobias worked for 10 years as a dancer, performing in musicals such as Mary Poppins, CATS, Singin’ in the Rain and Guys and Dolls. In 2019, Tobias edited and published Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories, which featured his first published work, ‘Variation’. Tobias is a passionate member of the #LoveOzYA and LGBTQ+ communities, and currently works full time for a major independent publishing company. He now lives in Sydney with his husband, Daniel, and their cavoodle, Ollie. His debut novel, Anything but Fine came out in 2021.

Vanessa Len (Australian)

Vanessa Len

Vanessa Len is a Melbourne author and educational editor of Chinese-Malaysian and Maltese heritage. As an educational editor, she has worked on everything from language learning programs to STEM resources, to professional learning for teachers. Her first novel, Only a Monster, explores themes of heroism, monstrousness and representation, and it has been translated into nine languages. Vanessa is a graduate of the Clarion Workshop in San Diego.

Clayton Zane Comber (Australian)

Clayton Zane Comber

Clayton Zane Comber is a writer from the South Coast of NSW who has held many varied roles, including a lawyer, optical dispenser, club DJ, creative writing tutor and saxophonist in a Chinese restaurant. He received his MA from Sydney University, before studying in the UK and graduating from Oxford University with distinction for his Master's in Creative Writing. In 2017, Clayton opened Bouquiniste Bookstore Cafe Wine Bar. His most recent novel, 100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze was released in 2021.

Sarah Ayoub (Australian)

Sarah Ayoub

Sarah Ayoub is a journalist, author and academic based in Sydney. She teaches journalism and writing at the University of Sydney and University of Notre Dame, and her work has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, The Australian, ELLE, marie claire and more. Sarah completed a PhD examining interventionist intersectional narratives in Australian YA, which inspired her forthcoming novel, The Cult of Romance, set in Western Sydney and Lebanon. Her debut picture book, The Love That Grew, is out in early 2022.

Kshiti Bhat (Australian)

Kshiti Bhat

Kshiti Bhat is a Year 9 student at Girraween High School. When she’s not holed up in her room, bingeing the next book in a series or trying to hopelessly salvage a craft project, Kshiti is driven in areas such as acting, debating and writing, making up puns and nonsensical monologues defending the morally ambiguous and participating in debating and Theatre Sports competitions as an outlet for creativity.

Ethan Beattie (Australian)

Ethan Beattie is a 2022 Festival Youth Curator and Year 10 student from Turramurra High School. When he isn't reading, he can be found performing with local dance groups or looking into the mythological implications of goat-fish. He is a proud peruser of eclectic musicals with a love of theatre only beaten by a devotion to books.

Dhishana Sutharshan (Australian)

Dhishana Sutharshan

Dhishana Sutharshan (she/her) is a Year 9 student at Girraween High School who has a strong passion for reading, baking, drama and making her own clothes. She is a current Sydney Writers’ Festival Youth Curator, a strong advocate for protecting the environment and is a member of Kamban Kazhagam, a cultural organisation that promotes Tamil Literature.