Brief Author Bytes A-I!



Venero Armanno was born in Brisbane to Sicilian migrant parents and has been described as one of Australia’s most daring novelists. When not slaving over a hot manuscript, he is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Queensland, where, in 2004, he received the ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award.

Veny has written one book of short stories and nine critically acclaimed novels, the most recent of which is Black Mountain. This novel had a rather unusual genesis. Veny had injured his shoulder which persuaded him to get fit and take up boxing. At the gym, he looked into the supplements that people were taking to build muscle and became interested in human growth hormone (HGH). This led him to study eugenics and he found a link with the sulphur mines in Sicily where, just after WW1, child slaves were employed to work and often died before they reached their twelfth birthday.

The novel follows Sette, a boy sold into slavery to work in Sicily’s sulphur mines harvesting biblical brimstone. After being starved, abused and beaten he escapes and makes his way to the slopes of Mt Etna where he is saved by a kind-hearted aristocrat who is determined to give the child a new beginning and a new name; Cesare Montenero.

Cesare begins to develop unusual talents, and when he later journeys through Italy and the decadent streets of Paris, he uncovers a darker meaning to his own existence and that of his saviour which forces him to explore what it means to be human. When he meets the enigmatic Celeste, he suspects for the first time that he may not be alone. 

Visit Venero Armanno’s website at for more about his work.

Books: The Dirty Beat, Candle Life, The Volcano, Firehead, Strange Rain, My Beautiful Friend, Romeo of the Underworld, The Lonely Hunter, Jumping at the Moon. Young Adult Fiction: The Super Adventures of Nic and Naomi, The Ghost of Deadman’s Beach, The Ghost of Love Street, Black Mountain.



‘It had always been my creed that if you sell something, you should at least test the product yourself... So it was with the apartments. I decided to inhabit each palatial residence that was on my books, to move from one to the other in order to familiarise myself with the lifestyle, the product, so to speak. I felt it unnecessary for my superiors to know. After all, I was making the penthouses more homely. I was breaking them in.’

And that’s where trouble started for Icarus. In A Night at the Pink Poodle (more a series of linked short stories than a novel) Matthew Condon relates the hilarious, heart-rending tale of the rise, fall and ultimate redemption of realtor Icarus who is revelling in his success. Here he is, living in his penthouse at Parthenon Place, gazing out at the endless rolling surf at the Gold Coast, enjoying his red Mustang convertible and wondering how he managed to attract the attention of his gorgeous beautician girlfriend, Jordan. Life couldn’t get more perfect, could it? Umm...

Mathew Condon’s writing is lyrical, often funny and very readable. When Matthew’s first book The Motorcycle Café was published, David Malouf said: ‘Marks the emergence of a major new voice and a new landscape in Australian writing. Simple, complex, moving, generous in spirit, full of life and detail, it makes an impression that lasts.’

Several fiction and non-fiction books, short stories and essays later, Matthew’s work has more than lived up to that early promise. A Night at the Pink Poodle and The Lulu Magnet won back-to-back Steele Rudd Awards for short fiction and his bestseller, The Trout Opera, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Prize for Best Fiction Book. Usher and The Ancient Guild of Tycoons were both shortlisted for the NBC Banjo Award for fiction.

Matthew Condon was born on the 5 March 1962 in Brisbane Australia. He was educated at the University of Queensland and the Goethe Institute, Bremen, Germany, and has lived in Australia, the UK, Germany and France.

Matthew began his journalism career with the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1982 and went on to work for many leading newspapers and journals including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph and Melbourne’s Sunday Age. He is the father of two children, lives in Brisbane and is currently the editor of Qweekend Magazine (the Courier-Mail, Brisbane).

In his gripping new nonfiction book Three Crooked Kings, Matthew explores how hundreds of people, including former Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, Lewis’ contemporaries, crooks, former premiers, other politicians and ordinary Queenslanders were affected by the Fitzgerald inquiry of 1987. His extensive research for this book also includes interviews with Terry Lewis – an object lesson in how an expert goes about dealing with a controversial and historic subject.

Listen to Matthew in Conversation with Richard Fidler, broadcast on the ABC on 10 February 2012 at can either listen to the Conversation interview by clicking on the audio or download the interview as an mp3 by right-clicking on the blue heading under the audio.

‘In Brisbane there is no hiding from nature, particularly in the summer months. Storms break out often with violence and suddenness; the vegetation creeps through the concrete and pushes at the windows, and lizards and brush turkeys roam the suburbs. Along with the giant spiders. In 2011 the Brisbane River rose up and flooded the city.’ For the Griffith Review, Matt told the stories of the people who were literally swept up in the disaster.

You can find out what Matthew’s up to on Twitter @ Matthew Condon2 – or at and more about Matthew and his books on Matthew Condon at Random House Australia.

Books – Fiction: The Motorcycle Cafe (1988), Usher (1991), The Ancient Guild of Tycoons (1994), A Night at the Pink Poodle (1995), The Pillow Fight (1998), Lime Bar (2001), The Trout Opera (2007), Murder Most Abstract (eBook) 2012, The Toe Tag Quintet (2012), Children’s Fiction: The Tunnel (1997).

Books – Non-fiction: Mulligan: On Being a Hack Golfer (2007), Brisbane (2010), Fear, Faith and Hope: The Long Wet Summer of 2010-2011(2011), Three Crooked Kings (2012 – the first instalment of two investigative true crime books due for release inFebruary 2013).

Short story collections and anthologies: The Lulu Magnet (1996), Smashed: Australian Drinking Stories (1996) (ed. With Richard Lawson).



After two decades of living out of suitcases, Carolyn Donovan, the face and voice of countless advertising campaigns around the world, came home to Australia and now bases herself in Queensland. Carolyn currently shares a house with a long suffering husband, rowdy children and a stream of friends as well as an alarming number of domestic and (uninvited but wanted) wild critters.

In Chooks in Stilettos, former model Carolyn took you on a whacky journey into the crazy world of modelling in a youth-obsessed industry, when she found herself getting out of bed, staring at her reflection in the mirror and wailing like multitudes of other women, ‘Why don’t I look like a supermodel?’ After which she just went to work, came home, looked after the kids, made an effort for her husband, cooked, cleaned, paid a mortgage and coped with pets. Just like the rest of us.

Of course, few of us are booked to act as MC for a glittering event, only to find ourselves in a designer gown and high heels, frantically chasing brown hens around the backyard, trying to get them into their cage before a storm hits.

Add to that the time Carolyn’s heel caught in the hem of a long skirt and she tripped down the runway, and when she flung a 10 carat diamond ring off her finger into the crowd below after an overly exuberant flourish, plus various disasters with undone zips, garments on back-to-front, shoes of different sizes, lights dropping from the ceiling and the backdrop collapsing to expose all the models changing backstage – and a model’s life is not all that glam.

Having survived her modelling career, Carolyn Donovan now gives us Greenies in Stilettos: or How to Save the World Without Really Trying (in 5 easy steps). As an avid environmentalist, Carolyn is passionate about living an earth-friendly lifestyle, but refuses point blank to compromise on actual style. In this book, glamour collides with everyday life as she shows you how to rustle up your own designer gown in minutes and make a handbag out of a tank top... and you can’t say better than that.

Create a whole new wardrobe from the neglected contents of your wardrobe, find out about natural beauty secrets, learn how to green your home and make a difference in the world. It’s easy once you know how, and Carolyn is just the woman to show you how to recycle, reuse, remake, reclaim, repurpose and re-imagine your life. Furthermore, your helpful hints are accompanied by a series of charming sketches drawn by Carolyn herself. Is there no end to this woman’s talents? Visit her website at for tips and more.

Books: Journey of a Princess, Chooks in Stilettos: An Honest Look at the Glamorous Side of Life, Greenies in Stilettos: or How to Save the World Without Really Trying (in 5 easy steps).



It’s rather hard to know where to start with Peter FitzSimmons. He is a celebrated former Australian and International rugby player, a journalist and sports columnist, radio program host, TV panellist, patron and board member of several organisations – and author.

Peter John FitzSimmons AM was born on 29 June 1961, the seventh and youngest child of Beatrice Helen Booth OAM and Peter McCloy FitzSimons, a citrus farmer. He grew up in Peats Ridge, New South Wales, on the rural outskirts of Sydney, and attended Peats Ridge Primary School and Knox Grammar School before gaining an American Field Service Scholarship to go to Ohio for a year. He then returned to Australia and earned an Arts Degree at the University of Sydney, majoring in government and political science.

Following Peter’s early rugby career he became a journalist and has written for the Sydney Morning Herald since 1988 and has been a sports columnist for them since 1987. In January 2006 he began co-hosting a breakfast radio program with Mike Carlton on Sydney radio station 2UE. After two years on Breakfast with Mike and Fitz, Peter decided to become a stay-at-home dad and write full-time.

Peter is an avowed republication and supports changes to the Australian flag. In June 2011 he was named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator and the award also acknowledged his contribution to community causes such as conservation, disability, social welfare and sporting organisations. Peter and his wife Lisa Wilkinson, host of the Nine Network Today Show, have three children, Jake, Louise and Billi.

In his latest book, Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution Peter tries to bring to life the thoughts and feelings of people fighting on both sides of this legendary rebellion.

Books: Kokoda, which recounts the numerous battles between Australian and Japanese Troops on the Kokoda Track during World War II, Tobruk, which tells the story of The Rats of Tobruk as they fought during World War II against Italian troops, then later the Afrika Korps, as they were led by then-General Erwin Rommel, Charles Kingsford Smith and those Magnificent Men, a biography of aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, A Simpler Time: a childhood memoir which relates his family history and honours the memory of his father and mother. Batavia, which recounts the fate of the unfortunate ship Batavia.

In his spare time Peter wrote the biographies of Kim Beazley, a former Australian Labor Party leader, Wallaby captains Nick Farr-Jones and John Eales, sports people Steve Waugh and Les Darcy and Australian WWII resistance fighter Nancy Wake.