Ventura Press to publish Lisa Dempster's travel memoir Neon Pilgrim


Ventura Press, one of Sydney’s leading independent publishers, is delighted to announce it will be publishing Lisa Dempster’s debut memoir, Neon Pilgrim, on 1 August 2017.

Neon Pilgrim is Lisa’s refreshingly honest and inspiring story of walking back to health on the henro michi, an arduous 1200-kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan.

First published in 2009 by Aduki Independent Press, the book received limited distribution across Australia.

“The opportunity to republish the remarkable Lisa Dempster’s Neon Pilgrim is the highlight of our 2017 list,” said Jane Curry, director and publisher of Ventura Press.

“Lisa’s memoir of her pilgrimage on the henro michi encompasses the universal truths that will always resonate with readers: loneliness, spirituality, humanity and belonging, and we are thrilled to be able to share her incredible story with a wider audience.”  

Lisa Dempster, the artistic director and CEO of Melbourne Writers Festival, said she is a firm believer in the importance of independent publishing, and is thrilled to be working with Jane Curry to bring Neon Pilgrim back into print.

“It's been a rewarding process to work with her visionary and supportive team at Ventura Press to reimagine my memoir for a new audience,” she said.

Appealing to fans of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Tracks by Robyn Davidson, Lisa said anyone who has ever been at a crossroads in their life will appreciate her memoir, and hopes it will continue to open up the vital conversation around women and mental health.

“And of course, I hope it encourages adventurous-minded women to hit the trails – if I can do it, anyone can!” she said.


Lisa Dempster is the artistic director/CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Previous roles have included Asialink fellow at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, Director of the Emerging Writers' Festival, founding director of EWFdigital (now Digital Writers' Festival) and publisher at Vignette Press. Lisa has travelled widely in search of literary and other adventures.

Peter Bishop Books

Ventura Press is delighted to announce its latest imprint: Peter Bishop Books. Born as a collaboration with Bishop, the imprint will present a catalogue that aims to rekindle the intimate relationship between author and reader, a unique and inimitable dynamic that imbues reading with a magic not found in other art forms.

With over 17 years’ experience serving as a writing mentor and creative director of Varuna, the Writers’ House, Bishop aims to curate a unique catalogue of works that reflects his keen eye for spotting and fostering talent. The imprint will publish a range of works across a diverse variety of genres, united by the desire to create and tell truly memorable and enduring stories.

Peter Bishop Books will launch its first title, The Many Ways of Seeing by Nick Gleeson and Peter Bishop, in June 2017. Although becoming blind at the age of seven and growing up in the working-class suburb of Broadmeadows, Victoria, Gleeson has led a truly remarkable life, from climbing to the base camp of Everest and the summit of Kilimanjaro, to running marathons, and competing as a Paralympian.

The Many Ways of Seeing reflects on Gleeson’s lifetime of achievements, as well as his relationship with Bishop, as the two tell this unique story in their own unique way. In a blend of memoir, conversation and insights into the writing process, Gleeson and Bishop weave an inspiring tale of surviving hardship, building trust, and reflecting on the relationship between writer and mentor.

The second title to be published will be Back to Broady by Caroline van de Pol in July 2017. In a book that in many ways is the ‘twin’ or ‘sibling’ to The Many Ways of Seeing, Gleeson’s childhood neighbour and friend Caroline shares her own powerful memoir of growing up in 1960s Broadmeadows, Victoria. This is Caroline’s compelling story of her fight through disadvantage in a large, chaotic Irish Catholic family, and the incredibly moving experiences that have helped her walk the fine line between survival and surrender.

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The Better Son long-listed for The Indie Book Awards 2017

We’re extremely excited to announce that Katherine Johnson’s gripping novel The Better Son has been long listed for the Indie Book Awards 2017 fiction list. This is an astounding achievement for Katherine and her hauntingly beautiful book. The Better Son is a richly imaginative story that explores the complex nature of relationships, the power of forgiveness and the enthralling beauty of the unique Tasmanian landscape.

Other great titles listed alongside The Better Son include Hannah Kent's The Good People, Emily Maguire's An Isolated Incident, Liane Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty, Georgia Blains Between a Wolf and a Dog and Inga Simpson's Where the Trees Were.

The Shortlist will be announced on 16th January 2017. The category winners and the Overall Book of the Year Winner will be announced on Monday 20th March 2017 at the Leading Edge Books 2017 Conference.

A big congratulations to Katherine for this fantastic achievement!

More information about the awards can be found here.

Melbourne Launch of Rebellious Daughters

On Thursday 4th August, at The Long Room in Melbourne, family, friends and contributors came together to celebrate the launch of our fantastic anthology, Rebellious Daughters. Introduced and launched by our editors, Maria Katsonis and Lee Kofman, with readings from two of our contributors, Leah Kaminsky and Jamila Rizvi. It was a wonderful evening full of extraordinary women. We are very proud to finally see this beautiful book on the shelves.


Above: Co-editor, Maria proudly introducing Rebellious Daughters.

Above: Co-editor, Lee Kofman, officially launching Rebellious Daughters.

Above: Leah Kaminsky, contributor, reading an extract from her story, 'Pressing the Seams'.

Above: Jamila Rizvi, contributor, reading from her section, 'The Good Girl'.

Some of our wonderful contributors (Left to Right): Jamila Rizvi, Rochelle Siemienowicz, Maria Katsonis, Lee Kofman, Jo Caro, Amra pajalic, Nicola Redhouse, Leah Kaminsky, Silvia Kwon.

Rebellious Daughters is out now, to purchase a copy click here.

REBELLIOUS DAUGHTERS receives four star review from Books+Publishing

A recent write-up in Books+Publishing has awarded our Rebellious Daughters a four star rating, citing among the reasons; the books’ stellar line-up of Australian female writers, the considered editing by Maria Katsonis and Lee Kofman and the sheer range of featured works - from comical tales and essays to intimate and powerful memoirs.

A powerful, funny and poignant work, we couldn’t agree with them more. Rebellious Daughters explores everything from getting caught in seedy nightclubs to lifelong family conflicts and marrying too young, all told from the perspective of some of Australia’s most talented female writers. Read below for the full write-up from Books+Publishing.

Rebellious Daughters features a stellar line-up of Australian female writers sharing touching stories of rebellion, family life, coming of age and motherhood. Edited by Maria Katsonis and Lee Kofman, this is a well-balanced collection of memoirs that charts the ‘complicated map of parent-daughter relationships’: from funny tales of youthful rebellion to traumatic estrangements and lasting wounds, the thrill of independence to unbreakable bonds and family loyalty. Rochelle Siemienowicz carves out a Self in a strict but loving Seventh-day Adventist household, and later fights against ‘the disappearing act’ women perform when they are consumed by motherhood. Rebecca Starford examines the risky business of memoir writing, questions of ownership and the idea of writing as rebellion. Susan Wyndham and Nicola Redhouse struggle to adjust to step-parents, while Krissy Kneen, the rebellious granddaughter, escapes her fairytale-obsessed grandmother to create her own tale of metamorphosis, sexual desire and freedom. One of the most poignant essays is Eliza-Jane Henry-Jones’ account of growing up in an atmosphere of decline, fighting against Alzheimer’s as she watches her grandmother and then her father forget themselves and their family. These intimate stories will appeal to readers of family memoir and essay collections such as Mothermorphosis.


Releasing 1 August 2016, click here to read more about 'Rebellious Daughters' as well as our other great titles.


It's International Women's Day and there's no better time to celebrate all of our incredible, talented and inspirational female authors, of which we are lucky to have so many. These women never stop fighting for the causes they believe in and are continually pushing the boundaries of society and gender to make positive changes for all. They are the reason we do and love our job, and in honour of IWD we've shined a spotlight on a select few.

Maria Katsonis, mental health advocate

It takes courage to bare all in a memoir, let alone a memoir that details the backlash you received coming out to your strict Greek parents and the subsequent depression in the years that followed. But that's Maria, she wrote her book The Good Greek Girl to de-stigmatise mental illness and continues to do so through numerous speaking events. She holds the first public service role in Australia exclusively focused on LGBTI reform, is a beyondblue ambassador and will publish the anthology Rebellious Daughters with Lee Kofman in August this year.

Connect with Maria on Twitter at @mariakatsonis, Facebook or her website.

Winsome Thomas, lifelong learner

Proving that age really is just a number, Winsome Thomas prides herself in being a lifelong learner and practitioner. At 71 she has had more careers than most of us have had in a lifetime - she became a psychologist in her fifties and recently became a Licensed Lay Minister in the Anglican Church. We first read about Winsome in Madness, a memoir, a searing account of mental illness written by her most recognisable client, Kate Richards, where she details Winsome's warm and intelligent client-central approach to therapy in the book. Kate openly credits Winsome with saving her life. Now adding 'published author' to her list of achievements, we are releasing Winsome's first book Heart Hungers in April. 

Jacqueline Dinan, female history advocate

It's not many women who could set themselves the task of interviewing over 300 women who served Australia in WW2, but Jacqueline Dinan's passion and persistance has ensured this time period for women has been preserved forever in Between the Dances. Spending countless hours travelling across Australia to share these stories and connect with women from this generation, Jacqueline is back writing her next book, a novel based on the true story of 'Granny' McDonald, the first woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner.

Connect with Jacqueline on Facebook or her website. 

Christine Durham, brain injury advocate

In 1992 the life of gifted teacher Christine Durham was turned upside down after she sustained a severe brain injury in a horrific car accident. Determind to return to teaching, after much perseverance and determination Christine was able to rebuild her life, becoming the inspirational leader she is today. Named 2014 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year, she continues to advocate for and empower people with brain injury.

Christine published Unlocking my Brain: Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury in February 2014.

Angela Priestley, career motivator

The founding editor of Women's Agenda, the power-packed website for professionally-focused women, Angela spends her days empowering women by writing about careers, gender equality and leadership. She interviewed some of Australia's most successful women in her first book Women who Seize the Moment, and is a strong advocate for career opportunities for all women and men - no matter their life choices.

Connect with Angela on Twitter @angelapriestley

Benison O'Reilly, autism commentator

The go-to commentator on autism in Australia, Benison is a medical writer, pharmacist and autism mum who staunchly defends evidence-based therapy surrounding autism at every turn. Just read this intelligent takedown of a book providing misinformation to parents on The Guardian, impressed yet? Benison is the co-author of The Complete Autism Handbook and Beyond the Baby Blues, both books responsible for helping parents through some of their most tough and confusing times.

Connect with Benison on Twitter @BenisonAnne or her website.

The Women Who Influenced Me by Jane Curry

To celebrate being named a 100 Women of Influence by Westpac and Financial Review, and the solidarity of all women in business, Jane has written the below article to pay tribute to all the women who influenced her along the course of her career and gave her a leg up the ladder of success.


The place I call home is the picturesque cathedral city of Ripon in North Yorkshire. But thanks to a potent reading mix of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch and my monthly delivery of Cosmopolitan which was full of glamorous women striding forth with their briefcases and high heels, I knew my life would only really start when I escaped and got myself to London.

And it did.  

First stop was university at the red brick red flag-flying Manchester. We raged against Thatcher’s Britain, staged sit-downs, held vigils for Nelson Mandela and supported the striking miners. We were engaged and passionate for a better world. I also realised that embracing feminism was the only logical way to live, which meant the obligatory Virginia Woolf poster, a full collection of Carmen Callil’s Virago paperbacks and a subscription to Spare Rib. 

So armed with an honours degree, a suitcase and an education in life, I set off to London and started my first job in publishing with Time-Life Books on Bond Street. My boss was the uber-stylish and inspirational Editor in Chief, Kit van Tulleken. Kit was Canadian, powerful, clever and awe inspiring to my 21 year old self. As a first boss I could not have asked for a better role model. Her two boys often came in after school so before the phrase ‘having it all’ was coined, she did indeed have it all.

Time-Life sent me on a placement to Sydney to work for dynamic American, Bonnie Boezeman, who headed up their Asia Pacific division. Bonnie was a whirlwind of energy and professionalism and ran the company with utmost flair and dedication.  

It is only writing this now I realise that my first two bosses were such influential women. They inspired me from the start to love the numbers side as much as the creative. Power always resides where the money is made and so I have been fortunate to be mentored into financial literacy very early in my career. 

Book publishing is a wonderful convergence of my love of the political and cultural together with my passion for business. So thank you Germaine, Carmen, Kit and Bonnie for all your influence on my formative years. And of course thank you to Cosmo for showing me the world beyond Ripon. 

If you would like to congratulate Jane, share tales from your own rebellious university years or tell us about the people who influenced you, come and have a chat on Facebook and Twitter.

Photos from Writers in the Park Festival at Centennial Park, Sydney

Rainy morning weather couldn't stop our local writer's festival, Writers in the Park, from launching with a bang at Centennial Park in Sydney this past Sunday 27 September.

Ventura authors were there in force, including The Good Greek Girl's Maria Katsonis, Icing on the Cake's Annabel Morley and Talk with your Kid's Michael Parker. Our managing director Jane Curry even shared her book tips on a killer publishing panel. 

You can read an in depth recap of the event from the wonderful Nicole Melanson, editor of WordMothers.

Annabel Morley and Maria Katsonis enjoying their memoir panel. Photo by John Grant.

Annabel Morley and Maria Katsonis enjoying their memoir panel. Photo by John Grant.

Annabel Morley, author of Icing on the Cake. Photo by John Grant.

Annabel Morley, author of Icing on the Cake. Photo by John Grant.

Publisher Jane Curry with Annabel Morley and Maria Katsonis. Photo by John Grant.

Publisher Jane Curry with Annabel Morley and Maria Katsonis. Photo by John Grant.

Maria Katsonis, author of The Good Greek Girl. Photo by John Grant.

Maria Katsonis, author of The Good Greek Girl. Photo by John Grant.