Meet the Australian Writers’ Centre team

With courses constantly launching across the country and online, keeping the Australian Writers’ Centre a well-oiled machine is quite the challenge. Luckily for us, we have a merry band of behind-the-scenes magicians who not only make it look easy but sometimes even whistle while they do it. From marketing to meet-ups, newsletters to new courses, or support for students and presenters alike, these heroes go above and beyond to keep the Australian Writers’ Centre at just the right level of awesomeness.

Valerie Khoo
CEO  (a.k.a. Bookworm and Closet Action Movie Watcher)

Currently obsessed with: Painting Flying apostrophes. Netflix's documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (about the rise and fall of biotech company Theranos). And trying to accept the fact that my partner actually bought a reclining chair.

Two people I’m inspired by: The author Michael Lewis and musical genius and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda (our office is somewhat obsessed with the musical Hamilton).

Book: Any book by one of our wonderful presenters – they are all incredibly talented and I’m privileged to be able to work with them.

Word: “Milquetoast”

Lyric: “Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night” from Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: “There”. Because that’s what keeps me moving forward.

Bucket list destination: The Star Wars Cantina

My name as an anagram: “EVIL OAK HERO”

Favourite AWC course: Freelance Writing Stage 1. I love this course because so many people do it and are then able to earn a part-time income from freelance writing.

Peter van der Kraan Finance Director  (a.k.a. Power tool collector)

Currently obsessed with: iRacing

Two people I’m inspired by: Vince Gilligan and Ted Lasso.

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Word: “Halcyon”

Lyric: “I don't go to parties baby, Cos people tend to freak me out” – Regurgitator


Bucket list destination: Tokyo

My name as an anagram: “PRANK DARE VETERAN”

Favourite AWC course: Creative Writing Stage 1 – a powerful force behind so many stories.

Cath Patangui
Senior Web developer  (a.k.a Makeup palette lover)

Currently obsessed with: Make-up pallets and body paint and learning how to play piano.

Two people I’m inspired by: Stephen Covey and Robert Kiyosaki

Book:  Rich Dad, Poor Dad  by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter

Word: God, Life, Happiness

Lyric: “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I'm not enough, Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up, You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak, And You say I am held when I am falling short.”

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: "There" There’s only one antidote to discouragement and that's encouragement.

Bucket list destination: Visit 5 Disneylands (Japan, Hong Kong, Paris, Orlando Florida and California)

My name as an anagram: “TAUGHT IN A CAP”

Favourite AWC course: Laugh Out Loud I want to spend time reading and laughing with kids.

Pamela Freeman
Director of Creative Writing (a.k.a. Chief Storyteller)

Currently obsessed with: Kakadu National Park (for a picture book).

Two people I’m inspired by: Valerie Khoo and Mary MacKillop! Both women who not only achieve, but do it by inspiring others!

Book: Too many, too many...let me, can’t pick one.

Word: “Decrepit”

Lyric: “One more dawn, one more day, One Day More!” – from Les Miserables

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: Yes, in the right places.

Bucket list destination: Mars. Have wanted to go there since I was tiny.

My name as an anagram: “EARN AMPLE FAME”

Favourite AWC course: Write Your Novel!

Nicole Beaton
Customer Support and Systems Manager  (a.k.a. Paper Nerd)

Currently obsessed with: Overwatch

Two people I’m inspired by: Tamora Pierce (taught me how strong women can be in fiction) and Hermione Granger (yeah, yeah, not a real person. I know. Smart, loyal, humble, punched Malfoy – too inspiring not to list.)

Book: Cracked by Eliza Crewe – what’s not to love about a deliciously almost-evil hero?

Word: “Inconceivable!” (You know why.)

Lyric: “Forever trusting who we are / And nothing else matters” – Metallica feels.

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: Ummm….“there”?

Bucket list destination: Venice, Italy. Just magic.

My name as an anagram: “NO ELITE BACON”

Favourite AWC course: Write Your Novel: 6-month program – I came out the other side with an (almost) full draft, which is something I’ve never managed before.

Natalie Newman
Content Writer  (a.k.a Drinker of Beer, Defender of Cats)

Currently obsessed with: Space, the universe, and everything. Also, exclamation marks!

Two people I’m inspired by: Anthony Trollope and Janelle Monae.

Book: The Master & Commander  series by Patrick O'Brian.

Word: petrichor – the smell just before it rains.

Lyric: "We'll ride the spiral to the end, And may just go where no one's been." Lateralus, Tool.

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: "They're" – because I'm always interested in people.

Bucket list destination: Mars! But maybe that won't happen in my lifetime, so I'll settle for the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. Ooh! Or the Galapagos Islands!

My name as an anagram: “AN ALE MEANT WIN!”

Favourite AWC course: Travel Writing! I can't wait to file stories from space.

Dean Koorey
Content Writer and Furious Fictioneer (a.k.a. Attila the Pun)

Currently obsessed with: Avocados.

Two people I’m inspired by: Mark Tim Minchin and the Oatmeal guy.

Book: Boy Swallows Universe – a cautionary tale for people watching their calories. by Trent Dalton.

Word:“Zeitgeist” – Somehow it never seems to go out of fashion.

Lyric: “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” – by REM

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: Definitely “there”, because it’s always good to know your place.

Bucket list destination: Norway

My name as an anagram: “YANKEE DOOR”

Favourite AWC course: Real Estate Copywriting

Amy Goodman
General Manager (a.k.a. user manual hoarder)

Currently obsessed with: Exploring my own city – it's amazing how long you can live in one place and still not have seen even a quarter of it.

Two people I’m inspired by: My parents (let's call them one) and my sister.

Book: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. I can re-read every year and it doesn't get old.

Word: "Melancholy" – it sounds how it feels.

Lyric: "Hakuna matata" – Tim Rice. It really is a wonderful phrase.

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: “There”. Because I want you to tell me about the there you're picturing.

Bucket list destination: Hot air ballooning over the Cappadocian Mountains.

My name as an anagram: “NOMAD YOGA”

Favourite AWC course: Food Writing

Filia Henry
Sales, Customer Support & Administrative Assistant  (a.k.a. Ninja timecoder)

Currently obsessed with: True crime podcasts

Two people I’m inspired by: Rachel Brathen and Edith Eger

Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Word: Petrichor

Lyric: “Where soul meets body"

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: “There” because I love exploring

Bucket list destination: Scotland

My name as an anagram: “RAY IN LIFE” got a spare H if anyone needs it.

Favourite AWC course: Writing Workout – I love the live sessions, exercises and valuable feedback.

Farah Morada
Marketing and Content Coordinator  (a.k.a. Accident Prone Person)

Currently obsessed with: All things travel!

Two people I’m inspired by: My mother and Paulo Coelho.

Book: Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho.

Word: "Now"

Lyric: “The more I see, the less I know. The more I like to let it go. — Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chili Peppers

THEIR, THERE or THEY’RE?: "There" — to the places I've been, and places I've yet to go!

Bucket list destination: Anywhere that gets my blood racing is probably worth going!

My name as an anagram: “AFAR HAD ROAM”

Favourite AWC course: Make Time to Write – trying!