#TasmanianLitMonth – Biographies – Hannah Gadsby and Stephenie Cahalan

Introduction and interview questions by guest curator, Bec Taylor

Incredibly famous Tasmanian literary export, Hannah Gadsby, has taken the comedy world by storm.

Incisively witty, brutally honest, and disconcertingly deadpan, Hannah’s rise to fame began with stand up comedy and led to Hulu and Netflix success (“Nanette”) with a string of awards.

Hannah has now released an instantly best selling memoir. “Ten Steps to Nanette” documents Hannah’s challenging path to fame, from their childhood in small town north west Tasmania, through a later-in-life diagnosis of autism and ADHD, to the present.

Equal parts harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby’s tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.

Photo and quote courtesy of author page on Penguin Random House Australia

Published by Allen & Unwin

Released 29 March 2022



International edition information here: https://sites.prh.com/hannah-gadsby

Photo credit: Karen Brown

Stephenie Cahalan

Stephenie is a writer, researcher and avid reader living in lutruwita-Tasmania. She has worked in environmental conservation and written for magazines and journals on arts, culture and social history. Stephenie’s book Colour and Movement: the Life of Claudio Alcorso was shortlisted for the 2022 lutruwtia-Tasmanian Literary Prize for non-fiction, and her history PhD explores the power of legacies to galleries and libraries in Australia. 

What makes Tasmania special to you? 

I love Tasmania for its magnificent forests and wild, delicate alpine areas and wild coastlines. I also love the Tasmanian community that has a resilient, yet fun spirit, and a unique island identity.

How has the Tasmanian wilderness inspired you as a creator? 

Tasmania’s forests are both beautiful and daunting at the same time. From the delicate fronds of the rainforest myrtles to the massive trunks and towering canopies of the blue gums, the perfection of these ecosystems inspires me to pay close attention to both the  fine details and larger landscape of my work.

Stephenie’s book, ‘Colour and movement: The life of Claudio Alcorso‘ – a summary from Forty South’s website.

Dirty dago, wog, wop, enemy, alien. Visionary, expansive, impulsive, sentimental, generous.

Claudio Alcorso was called many things.

Colour and movement: The life of Claudio Alcorso‘ is a study of a humanist, entrepreneur, patron of the arts and conservationist.

After fleeing fascism in Italy and enduring incarceration in Australia in World War II, Alcorso became a champion of textiles and the arts, pioneer of Tasmania’s cool climate wine industry, and architect of Hobart’s cultural precinct. Alcorso was at the leading edge of Australia’s twentieth century multicultural and artistic awakening.

Claudio helped redraft the cultural blueprint of Tasmania during his journey from one of Rome’s elite, to the bankrupted tenant of his beloved Moorilla Estate in far-flung Hobart. There he watched the winery he created commence its transformation into MONA, the dissident private museum that has, in turn, reshaped contemporary Tasmania’s view of itself and its place in the world.

‘Painted through personal accounts, letters and rarely seen images, this portrait of Alcorso shows that his feats will forever dwarf his failures.

Published by Forty South Publishing

Released 1 August 2019


ISBN 9780648532828

What is a misconception about Tasmania that you’d like to rectify? 

Not everyone in Tasmania is related. 

What makes Tasmanian literature unique? 

Tasmanian literature is unique for the way our writers gaze at the world from a different angle. The island’s remoteness gives us a clear-eyed perspective of people and places – it’s like having a birds’ eye view but from the bottom of the planet.

What structures and systems are in place in Tasmania for you to succeed as a creator? 

Good organisational skills and the discipline to turn off the phone, close the door and really immerse myself in work. I am also lucky to have a nice home in which to work, which unfortunately not everyone has these days.

In what ways do you think Tasmanian creator culture differs from other areas of Australia or the world? 

Tassie’s creators are working on an island that is buffeted by the Southern Ocean’s weather systems and is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, so beauty is fundamental, whatever the subject matter.

Literature offers us mirrors, windows, and sliding door moments. Which of these are the most present in your work and why? 

I enjoy looking through literary windows into history which informs my non-fiction writing.

What other Tasmanian creators inspire and/or entertain you? 

There are so many! I am inspired by Rob Blakers’ photographs of nature, writer Danielle Wood’s fiction and non-fiction, pakana artist Julie Gough, actors Jane Longhurst and Melissa King, dancer Graeme Murphy and my son who is a fantastic guitarist. They all make beautiful, intelligent, and inspiring works for which I am profoundly grateful. 

I would like to pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land, the Palawa people of Tasmania, and to their Elders, past, present, and emerging. I acknowledge their deep spiritual connection to the land and their ongoing contributions to the culture of this nation.  

About Guest Curator, Bec Taylor

I’m Bec Taylor, the EY3 – Grade 2 cybrarian* at the International School of Beijing, China. I’m a global nomad with Australian roots and a Chinese family home – all my immediate family have lived and worked in Beijing as international school teachers for many, many years.  

Overly enthusiastic about everything especially children’s literature, Australian Rules Football (go Doggies!) and food, glorious food, I am easily bribed with coffee and dark chocolate. I am a passionate advocate of social justice, female financial literacy, and finding ways to tread more lightly on the planet. Alongside the demands of a busy family and professional life, I enjoy cultivating community through volunteer work that focuses on healthy families.

I am the current Chair of the Chinese international schools reading promotion, the Panda Book Awards. Titles chosen for the shortlists of the Panda Book Awards meet selection criteria that focus on social justice, diversity and inclusion by up and coming authors and illustrators from across the world. There is an added spotlight on titles that feature Asian settings, characters or creators. 

Twitter is my favourite professional development space so please come find me there: @becinthelibrary

The educational hills I will die on are:

  • a child’s right to choose what they love to read,
  • there is serious magic in reading aloud,
  • and the belief that schools are happier, more equitable places with better academic outcomes when the properly funded school library is well staffed with qualified, collaborative and passionate professionals.

*a fancy name that formalises and acknowledges the incredible work teacher librarians do each day to find authentic ways to integrate and explore educational technology in order to capture, expand, and enhance student learning.

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