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Writers Week Schools Day

Celebrate ideas, imagination and inquiring minds.

Words and stories will fill Perth Cultural Centre for Writers Week Schools Day. Join local, national and international writers for an array of workshops, intimate encounters and in-depth discussions examining the world in which we live. From big names to terrific emerging talents, primary and secondary students will have the unique opportunity to meet authors, illustrators, and storytellers of all forms, tackle big questions and consider big answers.

Featuring Markus Zusak, Anna Funder, A. J. Betts, Future D. Fidel, Dianne Wolfer, James Foley, Alison Evans, and Carly Findlay and many others, Schools Day showcases the best international, national and local writers and illustrators. It’s an unmissable opportunity for students to hear, learn, and create.

Schools Day will inform, excite and inspire your students as they connect and engage with literature. Join us for a day of celebrating ideas, imagination and inquiring minds.

Perth Festival’s Writers Week Schools Day is proudly supported by The McClements Foundation.


Date: Friday 22 Feb

Time: 10am – 2:50pm

Venues: Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, State Library of Western Australia, State Theatre Centre.

Price: $7.50 per session, $18 for full day (three sessions)

See the full Schools Day schedule here 

*All materials supplied for workshops

Booking information

All bookings are to be submitted in writing to Please note full details including session name, session time, number of students and number of teachers.

The capacity for all sessions is limited and bookings are subject to availability. All booking requests will be notified by Ticketek on the status of their booking and are not guaranteed until confirmed by Ticketek.

Schools are entitled to one free teacher ticket per ten student tickets booked. All tickets must be paid for in full by 10 February, 2019. Tickets will be posted once payment has been received.


View the entire Writers Week Schools Day events schedule here.

Session Descriptions

Dianne Wolfer: Bringing the past to life

Dianne’s award-winning ‘Light’ series brings World War One to life via letters, photographs, text and evocative charcoal illustrations. Find out about Dianne’s research and how real life archival objects – as well as her imagination – helped create characters and settings.

Middar Room, State Theatre Centre, 10:00 – 10:50


How on earth did I end up an author?

Illustrator and author Mike Speechley talks about the journey to The All New Must Have Orange 430: all the hurdles, pitfalls and fun bits along the way. Including how he failed drawing – twice!!
Venue: PICA Performance Space
Time: 11:30 – 12:20


Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys: How an Idea Becomes a Book

Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys share with upper-primary students how a conversation around a dinner table became their latest book, All the Ways To Be Smart – and all the steps in between. With writing tips to behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at the illustrator’s process, this lively session will inspire and delight. 

Alcove, State Theatre Centre, 13:00- 13:50


Rachel Bin Salleh: Telling the hard stories

Magabala Books’ publisher and author, Rachel Bin Salleh, talks about publishing, writing and (re)telling stories from First Nations’ perspectives, and elaborates on the inspiration and history behind her own book, Alfred’s War.

Performance Space, PICA, 10:00 – 10:50


James Foley: How to Be An Illustrator 

James Foley has illustrated books about robots, Vikings, giant dung beetles, stinky super-babies and zombie bunnies. But how do illustrators actually do what they do? James reveals the secret tricks of the trade and tips for budding artists. He’ll even show you his first books that he made in primary school.
Venue: Middar Room
Time: 11:30 – 12:20


Karen Foxlee: Growing Great Stories

Author Karen Foxlee explores creativity and inspiration in her career as an author. She’ll talk about where ideas for stories come from, the process of crafting living breathing characters, and how to grow a story into something worth reading.

Performance Space, PICA, 13:00 – 13:50


James Foley: Crazy Character Design (workshop)

Join illustrator James Foley for a hands-on session that explores character design. Inspired by James’ own incredible illustrations, learn how to draw cartoon faces and bodies, and invent your own crazy character.

Imagination Room, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 10:00 – 10:50


Frané Lessac: The Art of Story (workshop)

Author and illustrator Frané Lessac takes the mystery out of making books. From the spark of an idea to the finished book – all you need is a little imagination. Frané shares tips on how to organise their ideas into words and pictures and leads participants through the process of creating their own illustration.


Mike Speechley: Sketchy Stuff (workshop)

Ever wanted to illustrate a book? Author and illustrator Mike Speechley teaches participants how to draw all the quirky characters from his new book, The All New Must Have Orange 430. Big heads, small heads, long heads, short heads, big hair, no hair, little bodies and one special cat.

Imagination Room, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 13:00 – 13:50


Kelly Canby: A Hole Lot of Homes!

Explore the techniques used to create Charlie, the rabbit and all the animals from The Hole Story in this hands-on illustration and watercolour workshop. Participants will paint their own animals and create the earthy, dirty, textured homes in which they live.

Education Studio, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 10:00 – 10:50; 11:30 – 12:20; and 13:00 – 13:50



Markus Zusak: Failing to succeed (Years 11 and 12)

Have you ever thought you weren’t any good at something you felt driven to do? Markus Zusak, acclaimed author of The Book Thief, has spent more time failing in his work than succeeding, and that has made all the difference. He shares how struggling with ideas and pushing himself into harder territory finally resulted in his new novel, Bridge of Clay

Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, 10:00am – 10:50


Balli Jaswal: Don’t Dream It, Do It

When you have an artistic hobby, people try to talk you out of taking it too seriously. Author Balli Kaur Jaswal shares how she discovered her passion for writing, and turned it into a career. She considers the importance of taking time to practice your craft, and how to consider setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.

Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, 11:30 – 12:20


Anna Funder: Inspired by history

Join award-winning author Anna Funder in conversation with Sisonke Msimang, as they discuss the inspiration for Stasiland and All That I Am. One a work of fiction, the other non-fiction, Anna reflects on the different approaches to both works, and the historical events, people and places that shaped them.

Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre, 13:00- 13:50


madison moore: How to be Beyonce

Is Beyonce the most exciting artist of all time? Join academic, author and cultural critic madison moore as he unravels Beyonce’s iconic moments and discusses why they are so culturally significant beyond the zeitgeist. If you’ve ever wanted to understand exactly how Beyonce can be so amazing, this session is exactly what you need.

Theatre, State Library of WA, 10:00 – 10:50


A.J. Betts: How to build a world

Set in an enclosed community, Hive is a gripping tale of discovery, power, and truth that breaks the dystopian mould. A.J. Betts shares how she created a world that’s simultaneously believable and unique.  

Theatre, State Library of WA, 11:30 – 12:20


Future D Fidel: The Cost of War

Future D Fidel’s journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Australia, and the people he met during his years in a refugee camp before he arrived in Brisbane, heavily inspired his critically acclaimed play Prize Fighter on which his debut novel is based. Here he talks about his personal journey and the impact of war on his own writing and experience.

Theatre, State Library of WA, 13:00- 13:50


Alison Evans: Writing myself into existence

Join Alison Evans in conversation with Sisonke Msimang as they discuss speculative fiction and queer narratives. Does speculative fiction lend itself to more freedoms when writing queer characters? How can we normalise queer narratives and identities? When you’re not sure of your own identity, how do you even write about yourself?

Alcove, State Theatre Centre, 10:00 – 10:50


Fiona Wright: Small Acts of Disappearance: Writing Personal Stories

Fiona Wright’s Small Acts of Disappearance is a highly personal story of the author’s affliction with an eating disorder and her attempts to understand the illness and herself. In conversation with Sisonke Msimang, highly regarded poet and critic Fiona Wright, shares her story and the process of its telling.

Alcove, State Theatre Centre, 11:30 – 12:20


Carly Findlay: This is me

Carly Findlay is a blogger, writer, speaker and appearance activist. She challenges people’s thinking about what it’s like to have a visibly different appearance. Carly talks about how she has carved out a niche in writing and speaking through embracing her identity, touching on the challenges and benefits she has encountered.

Middar Room, State Theatre Centre, 13:00 – 13:50


Yirra Yaakin: Shakepeare’s Sonnets in Noongar

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s Noongar Shakespeare Project is a long term cultural and creative endeavor celebrating Noongar culture and language. In this special presentation for Schools Day, two of Yirra Yaakin’s artists perform Shakespeare’s sonnets in the Noongar language, accompanied by a discussion of the importance of translating and performing Shakespeare in Noongar.

Theatrette, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 10:00 – 10:50


Ian Michael and guests: Being Blak

Join Ian Michael and special guests in this conversation that celebrates strong First Nations voices with this panel of storytellers from across the country. As they discuss life, race, cultural identity and their experiences of growing up as First Nations people in Australia.

Theatrette, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 11:30 – 12:20


Alison Evans, Rachel Bin Salleh and Balli Jaswal: Represent! Reading diverse identities

What if you didn’t exist in the books you read growing up? For a whole range of Australians, their identities have been largely absent from popular fiction. Join this panel of ground-breaking authors and publishers in conversation with Cassie Lynch as they discuss the importance of representation in writing and the courage of their personal journeys to realise their identity in books.

Theatrette, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 13:00 – 13:50


Andrea Gibbs: Find Your Story Gold

Comedian & co-founder of Barefaced Stories, Andrea Gibbs will help you mine your life for story-worthy, relatable and funny material.  Explore practical exercises that are designed to get story synapses firing and memory working overtime.  Everyone will leave with a notebook full of raw material to turn into a personal story, stand-up bit or even an idea for a new creative work. 

Geographe Room, State Library of Western Australia, 10:00 – 10:50; 11:30 – 12:20; and 13:00 – 13:50