The Writers’ Stories

Successful writers talk about their craft

Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin

Host – Richard Walsh

Telling the Story

Peter FitzSimons

Peter FitzSimons is the pre-eminent populariser of Australia’s military history – but not every critic admires his methods. Some argue that Peter often fails to make clear where history stops and where his storytelling takes over. Leading publisher Richard Walsh will test Peter’s reactions to this criticism. Together, with help from the audience, they will explore the dichotomy between scholarship and entertainment in historical writing. Look forward to a candid and controversial session!

How I Write What I Write

Christina Twomey

How do accomplished writers approach their task and what advice might they have for others who would like to write? Expect wonderful insights into the craft of military writing.


Richard Walsh

He is witty, irrepressible, energetic, iconoclastic, a startlingly original thinker, generous and encouraging – what more could an author want in a publisher? Richard Walsh asks only of his authors that they be outstandingly original – and compatible with him. Richard has been publishing since 1963, when he co-founded and edited the satirical magazine, OZ. The magazine offended the establishment in Australia; Richard was sentenced to prison for obscenity but he won on appeal. Nowadays, his books win Walkley Awards. He says of his early days ‘Like lots of young people, we wanted to take the place by the scruff of the neck and change it.’ He did. That didn’t derail an astonishing future in publishing – POL, Nation Review, Angus and Robertson, Australian Consolidated Press and its more than 60 magazines. As head of Angus & Robertson in the 70s and 80s, he was the publisher of Bean’s Official History of World War One and a host of popular military histories. Among the popular military histories, he has more recently published at Allen & Unwin have been Peter Barton’s The Lost Legions of Fromelles, Craig Collie’s The Code Breakers, Peter Grose’s An Awkward Truth and Marianne van Velzen’s Bomber Boys. Now, he lectures, writes and advises and is Consultant Publisher at Allen and Unwin. And, when he speaks, he entertains and he informs.

Peter FitzSimons AM

Columnist, international rugby player, broadcaster, writer, after-dinner speaker and much else – is there no end to the accomplishments of this remarkable man? Peter has written 27 best-selling books – not all of them endorsed by critics but all of them welcomed by the market. Peter says ‘I am not a military historian. I am a storyteller.’ He might have added ‘spellbinder’ – his books have his readers queuing at the bookshops to buy his latest title. That can’t be bad for history.

Professor Christina Twomey

Christina is a Professor of History and Head of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia and the Australian Academy of Humanities. The author of four books, including Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners: Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War Two (2008), her most recent is The Battle Within: POWs in postwar Australia, winner of the 2018 NSW Premier’s Prize for Australian History.