Literary Events

Workshop & Literary Event - Wednesday 12 October 2022

Workshop – Dr Susan Steggall: Writing-Reviewing

Time:  10:15 am to 12:00 pm
  Dixson Room, State Library of NSW
Cost:  Members $35, non-members $45

Criticism of the arts is not an international conspiracy against creativity, but, when practised with integrity, it is a constructive promotion of understanding between the creator of art and its beholder (Reflections on the Role of a Music Critic, Fred Blanks on his retirement, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 1996).

These words hold true for literary criticism. Many people keep in touch with the latest book releases through reading reviews, so the reviewer needs to strike a balance between objectivity and subjectivity. There are rules and responsibilities to the process, but it is a rewarding exercise and concentrates the mind on why one likes or dislikes a book. 

Workshop participants are asked to bring a book they’ve read – in any genre. After a brief discussion of those rules and responsibilities and literary elements such as plot, tone, writing style and character development, participants will write a short review of their books (200-300 words), which will then be shared and discussed. 



Special Time for Chatting with your Friends

Time:  12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
  Dixson Room, State Library of NSW
Cost:  Free!

Take an opportunity to sit and talk with your friends or even meet someone new in the Dixson Room – totally casual, in Sydney’s inspiring literary hub.

Make use of the workshop table and chairs, bring a book to share with others or just chat about your recent readings.

Please note: Food and drinks (other than water) cannot be consumed in the State Library but you can grab some lunch and coffee/tea at:

Library Cafe/Cafe Trim, 1 Shakespeare Place
or other cafes located in various buildings nearby


Literary Event

Time:  1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Place:  Dixson Room, State Library of NSW
Cost:  Members $20, non-members $35

Member Speaker – Gabriella Kelly Davies: Breaking through the Pain Barrier 

Breaking through the pain barrier. The extraordinary life of Dr Michael J. Cousins is the biography of Dr Michael J. Cousins AO, a trailblazing Australian pain medicine researcher and clinician who pioneered novel pain treatments. The biography explores the way historic events and larger forces shaped Michael Cousins and how he in turn shaped international pain research, treatment, education and policy. It also highlights the personality traits that enabled him to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and accept countless personal sacrifices.

Gabriella Kelly-Davies is a biographer, and has studied biography and life story writing at the University of Oxford, the Australian National University and Sydney University. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program in biography writing. As part of her PhD she wrote Breaking through the pain barrier. The extraordinary life of Dr Michael J. Cousins. Gabriella is President of Life Stories Australia Association and founder of the life writing business Share your life

Guest Speaker – Anne Maria Nicholson: From Journalist to Novelist in the Age of Uncertainty

To Anne Maria’s mind, six major world events in the last dozen or so years have forever changed the human race and consequently the way authors may or may not reflect that in their creative writing. The events are: the September 11 attacks in the United States, the displacement of populations causing record numbers of refugees, the election of Donald Trump and the phenomenon of ‘fake news’, climate change and the fallout of global warming, the rise in brutal wars such as Afghanistan and Ukraine and the Coronavirus pandemic.

Combined with constantly evolving technology and communications, we survivors are treading in a kind of mental quicksand where nothing is predictable anymore. We can no longer take ordinary things for granted, from believing what we read, to being able to catch a plane to visit friends or relations; from living near the ocean, to deciding on any personal responsibility towards the have nots in society.

As a journalist working in Australia and internationally, reporting on such events was always grist to the mill. Now record numbers of journalists are being murdered or muzzled. So where does that leave the novelist? How do we take account in our writing of the new realities? Is it safer to ignore current events? Is historical and science fiction our safe haven? There are no simple answers. But these are the issues she has struggled with and pondered over in the development of her new contemporary novel, Poker Protocol, and others she is writing.

Anne Maria Nicholson is an author who worked for major media organisations, including 20 years at the ABC as a senior TV journalist and National Arts Reporter. In her third novel, Poker Protocol, set in Manly where she resides, she called on her reporting skills to put the values of middle Australia under a microscope. It focuses on a group of poker-playing friends struggling with ‘first world problems’, suddenly challenged when their lives collide with an embattled Afghani family trying to survive a hard-arse Australia.

Anne Maria, a former elected Councillor, believes community activism is vital to contribute to society. 


Book and pay:

Workshop:  Members $35, non-members $45
Literary event:  Members $20, non-members $35

Discount for full program (Workshop and Literary Event) when booked together:  
Members $50non-members $75

By Credit card:

or by Direct debit:

      The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc
      BSB: 062 018
      Account:  00950433
      Code:  VM

      Email Amanda Mark - Email Amanda -
      include your name, receipt number and date of event

Zoom will be available for this function – please click here to book: