Trainers & Speakers

Selja Ahava (Finland)

Selja Ahava (Finland)

Selja Ahava (1974) is a fiction author and scriptwriter from Finland. Her debut novel, The Day the Whale Swam through London was awarded the Laila Hirvisaari Prize in 2010. Her second book, Things that Fall from the Sky explores the unexpected and inexplicable nature of reality. Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016, its translation rights have been sold to eighteen territories and the English version was published by Oneworld in April 2019 in translation by Emily and Fleur Jeremiah. Ahava’s autobiographical novel Before my Husband Disappears came out in 2017. She is currently working on her fourth novel that examines metamorphoses, both in insect life and the lives of fictional characters.

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Shelly Bryant

Shelly Bryant

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a poet, writer, and translator. She is a published author and has translated work from the Chinese for Penguin Books, Epigram Publishing, the National Library Board in Singapore, Giramondo Books, HSRC, and Rinchen Books, and edited poetry anthologies for Alban Lake and Celestial Books. Her translation of Sheng Keyi’s Northern Girls was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012, and her translation of You Jin's In Time, Out of Place was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016.
https://shellybryant.com/

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Harkaitz Cano  (Basque Country / Spain)

Harkaitz Cano (Basque Country / Spain)

The prominent Basque author Harkaitz Cano (1975) has published over thirty books of poetry, short stories, novels and comics, as well as books for children. His work has been translated into a dozen languages, including Spanish, German, Polish and Russian. His novels A Blade of Light and Twist were published in English translation by Archipelago in 2010 and 2018 respectively, both translated by Amaia Gabantxo. A Blade of Light explores the hypothetical possibility of an encounter between Hitler and Charlie Chaplin, whose film The Great Dictator is a thorn in Hitler’s side. Twist is set in the politically charged climate of the 1980s in the Basque Country, providing a multi-vocal account of the conscience of a society in turmoil. He is also scriptwriter and translator, and has translated into Basque work s by Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Allen Ginsberg, among others. He collaborates with artists, musicians and theatre people producing works for stage and performing his poetry. 

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Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong

Felix Cheong, completed his Master of Philosophy in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland in 2002 and is currently an adjunct lecturer with Murdoch University, University of Newcastle, University of Western Australia, Temasek Polytechnic and LASALLE College of the Arts.

Author of nine books, including four collections of poetry, two teen detective novels, The Call from Crying House (2006), and the sequel, Woman in the Last Carriage (2007), and Vanishing Point, which was long-listed for the prestigious Frank O’Connor last year. His latest book is Singapore Siu Dai, a collection of humorous flash fiction. The sequel, Singapore Siu Dai 2, will be launched in September.

He received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature Award in 2000 and was nominated for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004.

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Melina Chua-Clark

Melina Chua-Clark

Melina brings with her more than thirty years of experience in Advertising and Marketing Communication. From an award-winning background in copywriting, she has held significant senior creative and management positions in international advertising agencies as well as founding a local one.

Her teaching experience includes lecturing at the Nanyang Technological University on Communication subjects such as Creative Strategy, Advertising and Writing for Media; and teaching Creative Concepts, Art of Story and History of the Arts at the Republic Poly.

Melina holds an MSocSc (Counselling) and a BA in Sociology and English.

In addition to teaching and training based on her professional communication specialty, she conducts workshops on soft skills development and personal growth and fulfillment. She is passionate about how the application of communication skills and expertise can be harnessed for individuals to achieve life goals.

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Simon Clews

Simon Clews

Simon Clews has been involved in all things literary for close to three decades now. For fourteen years he directed the world famous Melbourne Writers Festival and for the past decade he has headed up Melbourne University's prestigious Writing Centre for Scholars and Researchers, recently renamed the Melbourne Engagement Lab. He has organised thousands of literary events, written for newspapers and magazines and is currently wrestling with a small digital publishing start-up that seems to have a life of its own. He teaches writers and academics all around the world how to get the best out of the only tool they have in their trade ... words. 

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Xavier Comas

Xavier Comas

Xavier Comas is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of Barcelona and Spanish graphic designer, photographer and author with more than 25 year-experience in book cover design. He is the founder of Opalworks, one of the foremost book cover studios in Spain and the CEO of Cover Kitchen, an award-winning book cover design studio based in Bangkok working for international publishers such as Penguin-RandomHouse, Planeta and Tuttle. His cover design for the European bestseller “Viajo Sola”, was selected by leading art directors in the publishing industry as one of the best cover designs in Spain of 2014. Xavier’s first book, both as a photographer and author, titled “The House of the Raja”, was published in 2014 by River Books.

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Shalini Damodaran

Shalini Damodaran

Shalini Damodaran is a writer, writing coach and teacher educator. She is an experienced Master Teacher specialized in the training of teacher leaders and teachers in the teaching of writing. She was trainer and writing coach at the English Language Institute of Singapore and the Singapore Writing Project affiliated to the National Writing Project in the US. She has designed and facilitated three-week writing retreats for English language teacher leaders. As a writer, she writes to discover more about herself, her beliefs and her relationship with others.

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Shivaji Das

Shivaji Das

Writer, traveller, and photographer; Shivaji Das is the author of Angels by the Murky River: Travels Off the Beaten Track, Yoda Press (2017), Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores and Sumba, Indonesia (2013), and Sacred Love: Erotic art in the temples of Nepal, Mandala Publications/ Aadarsh Books (2018).

Shivaji has also been published in magazines such as TIME, Asian Geographic, Venture Mag, Jakarta Post, Conscious Magazine, PanaJournal and Freethinker. His interviews have been featured on BBC, CNBC, Channel News Asia, Travel Radio Australia, Around the World TV, Radio Roaming, and Singapore Discovery Centre’s IFD exhibition. Shivaji has conducted workshops on travel writing in several literary festivals in Singapore and the region. He is also the conceptualiser and organiser for the Migrant Poetry Contests in Singapore and Malaysia.

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Debasmita Dasgupta

Debasmita Dasgupta

Debasmita Dasgupta is a Singapore-based, internationally published, Kirkus Best Prize nominated illustrator and graphic novelist. With over a decade-long career in the field of publishing, she enjoys drawing both fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. She has illustrated over 20 picture books, comics and poems.

Widely known as an art-for-change advocate, Debasmita tells stories of changemakers from around the world partnering with global non-profits. Her art is exhibited across the globe and more than 40 international media outlets have featured it. Her debut independent graphic novel, NADYA, published by Scholastic is critically acclaimed in many countries. She is currently working on three more picture books including one with Harper Collins.

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Melissa De Silva

Melissa De Silva

Melissa De Silva is the author of "Others is Not a Race", about Eurasians in Singapore. It was awarded the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize in the creative non-fiction category. Her fiction has been published in Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction.

Headshot credit: William Tham

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Eva Wong Nava

Eva Wong Nava is an award-winning children’s book author. She is an advocate for diversity in children’s books. Her books are typically cause-based concept books and fiction that encourage young readers to be more compassionate and inclusive. She has written Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure (Moonbeam Award winner) , a middle-grade fiction, The Boy Who Talks in Bits and Bobs (5 - star Reader’s Favorite review), and Mina’s Magic Malong (endorsed by Associate Professor of Social & Public Policy, Yale-NUS), two picture books, championing the underdog and lesser heard. She has picture books and a children's novel forthcoming in 2020-21.

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Sylvia Foo

Sylvia Foo

Sylvia is a Senior Lecturer with the DAS Academy which provides training in the field of SpLD from the foundation to postgraduate levels. She has two decades of experience as a specialist in dyslexia, literacy and English Language teaching in various educational institutes including the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. Sylvia has a Diploma in Education (NIE) and is trained in the Orton-Gillingham (OG) and Hornsby approaches to dyslexia intervention. She enjoys designing and delivering courses that enhance best practices in educational therapy.

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Alison Foo

Alison Foo

Alison is a EduTech trainer who specialises in both training and courseware/curriculum
development n Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality. She hastaught over 40 classes ranging from pre-schoolers to elders.

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Paul French

Paul French

Paul French was born in London and lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times Bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Mystery Writers’ of America Edgar award winner for Best Fact Crime and a Crime Writers’ Association (UK) Dagger award for non-fiction. His most recent book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir has received much praise with The Economist writing, ‘…in Mr French the city has its champion storyteller.’ Both Midnight in Peking and City of Devils are currently being developed for television.

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Inga Gaile (Latvia)

Inga Gaile (Latvia)

Inga Gaile (1976) is a Latvian poet, prose writer, spoken-word performer, playwright and theatre director, and translator of poetry from Russian. Her work focuses on everyday lives of women, gender issues and social injustices. To date she has published five books of poetry, including her latest Lieldienas (Easter, 2018) and a book of poems for children Vai otrā grupa mani dzird? (Can the Back Row Hear Me? 2014). Among her prose works is the Stikli (The Glass Shards, 2016), published as part of the series of historical novels titled We. Latvia: The 20th Century, and her collection of short stories Piena ceļi (Milky ways, 2018). Mūsu Silvija debesīs (Our Sylvia, who art in Heaven) is her theatre play about Sylvia Plath. Her selected poems 30 Questions People Don’t Ask came out from Pleiades Press in 2018 in translation by Ieva Lešinska. She is active in the feminist movement in Latvia and founder of a female stand-up comedy group.

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Ana Sousa Gavin
Anya Goncharova

Anya Goncharova

Anya Goncharova is a literary agent working for Peony Literary Agency and Tender Leaves Translation. Currently based in Shanghai, she works with international and local authors to connect them with top publishers and readers all over the world. Prior to her agenting role, she was the editor heading the English-language list at Penguin Random House North Asia where she published a variety of fiction and non-fiction from and about the region. Anya works in English, Russian and Chinese and she is always on the lookout for fiction in English and in translation, as well as original non-fiction. 

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Woo Hsia Ling

Woo Hsia Ling

Woo Hsia Ling is an independent Producer, Production and Stage Manager. She has produced participatory theatre performances such as A TINY COUNTRY by Attempts (commissioned by M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2020); and Saltwater by Jamie Lewis (Theatre Works in Melbourne 2015, Brisbane Festival 2015, and Bleach* Festival 2016 in Gold Coast). Ling was also the Managing Producer for Chinatown ​Crossi​​​​​​ngs by Drama Box, a promenade theatre performance that ran two sold-out seasons in 2018 and 2019. She is currently the Producer for The Little Old Cooking Club That Could by Jamie Lewis which will premiere at Drama Box’s Scenes Festival this year. 

Ling graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a Master of Creative Industries (Creative Production & Arts Management).

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Koh Hui Ling

Koh Hui Ling

Koh Hui Ling is a theatre practitioner who finds meaning in the process of community engagement and the participation of non-artists in art-making. Her desire to create alternative avenues for public dialogue has led to the development of GoLi – The Moving Theatre, Singapore’s first inflatable moving theatre that transforms spaces into vibrant places for critical discourses. Currently the Associate Artistic Director of Drama Box, she formed its youth engagement work and has developed a set of Drama-in-Education and Theatre-in-Education programmes for youths, teachers and adult-learners. Recognised for her contribution to community, youth and culture, Hui Ling has been awarded the Young Artist Award from the National Arts Council Singapore and the Singapore Youth Award from the National Youth Council. 

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