Judging Panels for the 2024 ARA Historical Novel Prize

The judging panels for the 2024 ARA Historical Novel Prize consist of:

  • Adult Category: Tony Maniaty (Chair), Meenakshi Bharat, Sienna Brown, Catherine Chidgey and Michael Williams
  • CYA Category: Anna Ciddor (Chair), Lystra Rose and Danielle Clode.

Further information about each of the judges is available below.



Tony Maniaty







Dr Tony Maniaty is a Sydney-based writer, photographer and academic. His career spans a wide range of roles – fiction and non-fiction author, foreign correspondent, photojournalist, screenwriter and book reviewer. He was the Paris-based European Correspondent for SBS Television, Executive Producer of ABC’s ‘7.30 Report’ and Associate Professor of Creative Practice at UTS. His novels include Smryna, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Tony holds a Doctorate in Media Studies.

For more information, visit:


Meenakshi Bharat







Meenakshi Bharat, writer, translator, reviewer and cultural theorist, teaches in the University of Delhi. Her special interests include children’s literature, women’s fiction, and film, postcolonial, translation and cultural studies—areas which she has extensively researched. She is a published translator and author of academic works and short fiction for both children and adults.  She has co-edited and contributed to five successful Indo-Australian Short Fiction anthologies on terrorism, asylum seekers and refugees, and written two monographs exploring terrorism in contemporary Indian culture.  She served as President of the International Federation of Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM, UNESCO, 2014-2017), as a bureau member of the International Council of Philosophy and the Human Sciences (CIPSH, UNESCO) and as the Treasurer of the Indian Association for the Study of Australia (IASA) from 2012-2016. For further information, please visit her Website.


Sienna Brown







Jamaican-born Sienna Brown writes historical fiction that centres on the Caribbean Experience in Jamaica and Australia. Her novel Master of My Fate (2019), won the MUD Literary Prize at Adelaide Writers Week for the best debut novel and was shortlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize. In 2021, she was commissioned by ABC Radio National to create Caribbean Convicts in Australia. Since 2022, she’s been a Research Associate at Western Sydney University as part of the ARC project ‘Creole Voices in the Caribbean and Australia.’ She’s just completed her second historical fiction novel – Love Under A Tropical SunFor further information, visit:


Catherine Chidgey







Catherine Chidgey is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Waikato and lives in Ngāruawāhia. Her novels have been published to international acclaim. In a Fishbone Church won Best First Book at the New Zealand Book Awards and at the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific), and in the UK it won the Betty Trask Award. Other honours include the Prize in Modern Letters, the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, the Janet Frame Fiction Prize, and the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize for her historical novel The Wish Child; she also won this prize for The Axeman’s Carnival. Her historical novel Remote Sympathy was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK.

In 2019, with sponsorship from the University, she conceived the Sargeson Prize – New Zealand’s richest short story competition, which she still administers. For further information, visit:


Michael Williams







Michael Williams is the editor of The Monthly and host of weekly books podcast Read This. He was previously the Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival, and CEO of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne for a decade. 









Anna Ciddor is an award-winning and best-selling author of nearly sixty historical books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her fascination with the past goes back as far as she can remember. As a child in the 1960s, she pleaded with her parents to buy her an antique doll. The quest for this treasure became the theme for her semi-autobiographical novel 52 Mondays (2019), longlisted for the inaugural Book Links Award for Children’s Historical Fiction. The Boy Who Stepped Through Time (2021), a time-slip adventure about a boy who travels back to Roman times, was longlisted for the 2021 ARA CYA Historical Novel Prize and short listed for the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Fiction. 

Anna has won many other accolades including the Nance Donkin Award for Children’s Literature, three Notable Book awards from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, several shortlistings for Children’s Choice Book Awards, and a grant from the Australia Council. Her books have been translated and sold around the world. 

Anna’s forthcoming novel Moonboy is another time travel adventure, this time carrying the modern character back to Anna’s own remembered past again, the exciting time of the first moon landing in1969.

For further information, visit her Website.


Danielle Clode







Dr Danielle Clode is a narrative nonfiction writer of Australian environment, history and biographies, with a particular interest in French voyages of exploration to Australia. Her books have won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction, Whitley Awards for popular ecology and been shortlisted for the National Biography Awards, Children’s Book Council Awards and Adelaide Festival Awards.  She is a serving board director for the Australian Society of Authors and Authors Legal. She has taught creative and academic writing at Melbourne and Flinders University and has a broad and eclectic range of academic publications and essays. For further information, please visit:


Lystra Rose







Lystra Rose is a multi-award-winning novelist of Guugu Yimithirr, Birri Gubba, Erub/Mua, and Scottish heritage who lives on Yugambeh-speaking Country (Gold Coast). When she’s not catching waves with her husband and two groms, Lystra is editor-in-chief of Surfing Life magazine—the first female editor of a mainstream surf mag in the world. Lystra loves surfing; it hydropowers her creativity. The idea for The Upwelling came while surfing at Kirra Point.

The Upwelling is Lystra’s debut novel, which collected several awards in 2023 including winning the NSW Premier’s Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize for Indigenous Writing. The book was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Young Adult Literature, the NSW Premier’s UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing, and the Reading’s Young Adult Prize. The Upwelling was also longlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize in the Children and Young Adult category, and won the State Library of QLD’s 2018 black&write fellowship for an unpublished manuscript.

Lystra is penning The Upwarping and The Upworlding, implementing a ‘cultural education by stealth’ methodology. For further information, please visit:

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