Pamela Rushby

Pamela Rushby, Australian author

Talks and Workshops

I present talks and run workshops, from one-hour to full-day sessions, for school students and adults. (Some examples follow.) Talks and workshops can also be tailored to suit particular requirements. I am a registered teacher.

Contact me for details of bookings and costs, or contact Speakers Ink or Creative Net


Those Girls With Grit

The girls who took over the work that men had done – and did it all

During World War 2, the Australian Women’s Land Army actively recruited women (some as young as 16) to work on farms, to release men for active service.  The girls made hay, milked cows, picked cotton, planted crops, drove machinery. They took on everything that had previously been regarded as ‘men’s work’, and succeeded. Some of them weighing only 7 stone wringing wet. But they frequently faced prejudice from local communities, and were often not regarded as one of the regular services. This talk (with archival photographs) covers the research and interviews Pam uncovered, the amazing results the girls achieved, and the friendships and fellowship they enjoyed. They were truly ‘those girls with grit’.

Adventures on The Nile – and Learn to Write Your Name In Hieroglyphs!

This talk, on The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle, (with archival photographs, including a mummy unwrapping!) covers where ideas come from, and how to research historical backgrounds. And finishes with an activity where students learn to write their names in hieroglyphs.

The battle of Brisbane

When Pam began researching the story of the Battle of Brisbane in 1942, she found many more interesting events of World War 2 than she’d expected. That newspapers were told not to report the incident. That civilians were panicked when Japanese planes – Zeros – appeared unexpectedly and unannounced in the skies over Brisbane. That many believed that, if the Japanese invaded, Australia would be abandoned to them above a ‘Brisbane line’. And that spaghetti arrived in Brisbane in a big way, in the legendary Mama Luigi’s. Illustrated with archival photographs. (Presented at Brisbane City Council libraries, 2022)

How a Book is Made

Suitable for lower primary. Demonstrates how a book is made, from the initial idea to the first scarily-messy scribbled draft, to edited text. The publishing process as text is laid out and illustrations placed – and finally, the completed book! (With examples of original first drafts, first and second proofs, illustration roughs and finished art.)

Mummies, mystery and magic

Learn how the ancient Egyptians mummified people – and animals. Why they did it. What they believed happened after death. See replicas of a mummified hand and cat – and a genuine mummified rat! In this workshop, kids learn to write their name in hieroglyphs – and find out why they should always, always say a mummy’s name aloud …
Pam’s books on Egypt include Walking in the Fields of the Blessed; Everything Egypt; The King of Egypt; Say My Name; Millions of Mummies.

White knee-high boots – in a war zone

Researching and writing When the Hipchicks Went to War

The sixties are in full swing and going to a war is the last thing on sixteen-year-old Kathy’s mind. But Kathy’s brother is fighting in Vietnam. Her best friend is protesting against it. And show-biz-mad Kathy is offered a job with a touring song-and-dance company, entertaining the troops. Kathy soon finds war is no song and dance …
(When the Hipchicks Went to War PowerPoint includes archival Vietnam War photographs. Teacher’s notes available.)

Australia’s war horses: the walers

Researching and writing The Horses Didn’t Come Home

The Horses Didn’t Come Home is the story of Australia’s own war horses: the walers. Australia sent 160,000 horses overseas during World War 1. Only one of them ever came back …
(PowerPoint includes archival World War 1 photographs. Teacher’s notes available.)

There was a hospital ward on the merry-go-round …

Researching and writing Flora’s War

Cairo, 1915, and the city is in crisis, totally overwhelmed with wounded from the Gallipoli campaign. Soon, every likely – and unlikely – building has been commandeered as a hospital – even the local fun park. Flora’s War is the story of sixteen-year-old Flora, in Cairo with her archaeologist father. Newly-grown-up Flora’s been dreaming of a glittering social life. Now dreams are pushed aside as she transports wounded soldiers in her motorcar, and volunteers in overcrowded hospital wards. Then, as she battles to save lives – and find her own – a tragic misunderstanding changes everything.
(PowerPoint includes archival photographs of Cairo in 1915.)

1900 – and the Black Death arrives in Australia

Researching and writing The Ratcatcher’s Daughter

The year is 1900, and the new year starts with the oldest disease – the plague, the Black Death. Thirteen-year-old Issy, just starting out in her first job as a maid in an Undertaking Establishment, becomes a very reluctant ratcatcher when the plague devastates Australia.
(The Ratcatcher’s Daughter PowerPoint includes archival photographs of Brisbane during the plague. Teacher’s notes available.)

How close did Australia come to outright civil war?

Researching and writing Sing a Rebel Song

Scarily close. In 1891, in western Queensland, shearers rebelled against employment conditions laid down by landowners, as workers opposed landowners and the government. Torchlight protest marches in the streets, violent confrontations, woolsheds and property fired. Twelve-year-old Maggie McAllister and her family are caught up in the struggle.
(Sing a Rebel Song PowerPoint includes archival photographs of Barcaldine and western Queensland during the Shearers Strike. Teachers notes available.)


Professional development workshops/seminars


Slaying the dreaded synopsis

Arm yourself with the tools you need to craft a synopsis that best captures the essence of your work!

If there’s anything that makes a writer turn pale, it’s having to write a synopsis. Distilling your thousands of carefully-crafted words into one A-4 page. Yet publishers and agents (bless them) will ask for them. Expect them. Demand them. Which means that, sinister as it is, the synopsis is a thing that has to be done. You can slay the beast. There’s a formula to help, and you’ll learn it in this workshop: the tools to produce a synopsis that will SING to editors and publishers.

All you ever needed to know about the publishing process

For beginning/emerging writers: how to get your manuscript onto a publisher’s desk. The dreaded acquisitions meeting. Do you really need an agent? Working productively with editors. Promote, promote, promote yourself!

How to write sizzling first sentences

When a reader picks up your book, you’ve got about 15 seconds to convince them to keep reading. This hands-on workshop outlines why sizzling first sentences are so important – and suggests eight effective ways of writing them.

Writing for children – and a way to break into it

Writing for the educational market is a great way to start off writing for children. Educational publishers are constantly commissioning new series – both fiction and non-fiction, for all age groups. This workshop includes finding the right publisher for you, and how to get that all-important first brief.

The perfect pitch

More and more often, writers have opportunities to pitch their work direct to publishers: at writers’ conferences, festivals, online. This workshop outlines how to have that perfect pitch on the tip of your tongue. Participants will develop two pitches: a short “elevator” pitch, and a longer pitch suitable for a one-on-one appointment.

Writing “faction”: fact-based historical fiction

The best, the strangest, the most riveting, heart-breaking, laugh-out-loud stories aren’t fiction. They’re real. They come from history. This workshop covers how to take an incredible historical moment and develop it into a gripping historical novel. Participants will work together to develop the outline of a historical story.

How nine questions – and three little pigs – can help you structure your story

This practical seminar assists writers to structure a story with a fine-tuned beginning, middle and end.  Nine simple questions are used as the framework to identify set-up, place and time, main characters, action, obstacles, conflict, climax and outcome, to construct a sensational story.