The judging panels for the 2023 ARA Historical Novel Prize consist of:

      • Adult Novels: Dr Robert Gott (Chair), Dr Renée Otmar and Lucy Treloar
      • CYA Novels: Christopher Cheng (Chair), Dr Craig Cormick and Lauren Keenan

    Further information about each of the judges is available below.


    Dr Robert Gott OAM (Chair)

    Dr Robert Gott is the author of more than 100 mostly non-fiction books for children, and nine historical crime novels for adults set in Australia in the 1940s. He is also the creator of the long-running cartoon in The Age newspaper, The Adventures of Naked Man. His most recent novel, to be published in May 2023 is Naked Ambition, a comedy about the Archibald Prize.

    Dr Renée Otmar DE HLM JMM

    Renée Otmar has been a professional editor since 1989 and has worked extensively as an editor, public health researcher and ethicist. She is a consultant and practising editor in academic, creative nonfiction and fiction genres – in contemporary fiction, historical fiction, crime fiction and romance. Renée provides teaching and training for editors and writers, and regularly presents guest lectures, workshops and seminars on editing for diversity and representation. A certified coach, she offers training and professional supervision for editors and writers working with sensitive, explicit or distressing content. Renée has served as a board director and on human research ethics committees since 2013.

    In 2000 Renée was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Editors Victoria, a branch of the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), and in 2008 became a Distinguished Editor of IPEd. In 2022 she was honoured with the Janet Mackenzie Medal for outstanding service to the editing profession. Her recent work is Editing for Sensitivity, Diversity and Inclusion: A guide for professional editors (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition forthcoming July/August 2023). For more information:

    Lucy Treloar

    Lucy Treloar is the award-winning author of the novels Salt Creek (2015) and Wolfe Island (2019). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Saturday Paper, Meanjin and Best Australian Stories, among others. A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy lives in Melbourne. She is currently undertaking a PhD at La Trobe University. Her third novel, Days of Innocence and Wonder is forthcoming. For more information:


    Christopher Cheng (Chair)

    Christopher Cheng is the author of the critically acclaimed and multi published picture book ‘Bear and Rat’ (published in the USA as ‘Will We Always Hold Hands?’), a loving tribute to his wife that Kirkus Reviews says is simultaneously quietly soothing yet deeply empowering—a friendship tale for the ages.

    Other picture books include One Tree, New Year Surprise!, Old Fellow, Wombat and the award winning titles One child, and Sounds Spooky. Soon to be released titles include Powerful like a Dragon, Quolls and Dragon Folding.

    He has written historical fiction and non-fiction and he compiled the ever popular Classic Australian Poems. In addition to his books, Christopher writes articles for magazines, ezines and blogs and he wrote the libretto for a children’ s musical.

    He is co-chair of the International Advisory Council for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), an ambassador for Australia’s National Centre of Children’s Literature (NCACL), holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature and is a recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for Children’s Literature. An experienced presenter in all media forms he speaks to students, teachers and parents in schools, conferences and festivals worldwide. He also established the international peer voted SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards.

    An infants/primary teacher by profession, Christopher was also Zoo Education officer at Taronga Zoo Sydney for 8 years developing Australia’s first Zoomobile. He dwells in an inner-city Sydney terrace and is often heard to say that he has the best job in the world! For more information:

    Dr Craig Cormick OAM

    Dr Craig Cormick OAM is an awarding-winning science communicator and author, who has published over 40 books of fiction and non-fiction for adults and young people. He enjoys playing with history just about as much as history enjoys playing with him. When not researching and writing he spends his time working in, and visiting, Antarctica. Find him at:

    Lauren Keenan

    Lauren Keenan (Te Ātiawa ki Taranaki) is a writer of both fiction and popular psychology. Her writing was kick-started by participating in the 2016 Te Papa Tupu Māori Writers’ programme. In 2017, she won the Pikihuia Short Story award for Māori writers. Lauren has since had two full-length books published: The 52 Week Project: How I Fixed My Life by Trying a New Thing Every Week for a Year  (Allen and Unwin NZ, 2020) and Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time (Huia, 2022). Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time was a finalist in the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and longlisted for the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize. She has recently finished the next book in her New Zealand time travel series for children which will be released next year. For further information, visit:

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