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Writing About Cultures Other Than Your Own

08/04/2017 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

- WFSC Member $15, Non-Member $20

Registrations are closed for this event

Please Note: The April meeting is brought forward by one week to the 8th April due to Easter.

This is not the usual course on this subject. It’s skills-based as well as knowledge-based, for one thing, for knowledge alone is hard for writers to create from. I keep telling people I’m a cultural historian and this is where my background becomes very useful to other writers. While I’ll talk about terms such as appropriation and about ethics, there will also be cultural awareness and cultural mapping. It is entirely possible that I’ll do my infamous minuet exercise, if I find suitable victims participants.



  • “Gillian worked hard to help us understand what she was trying to teach/explain to us. Appreciated the exercises she gave us. Take home message: research, research, research – in this case, cultures of characters you want to create/are writing about.”
  • “Big thinking; started with damaging, dominant cultures and ended with using culture to tell a story. But still don’t quite know what is culturally offensive.”
  • “Fabulous workshop – balanced, entertaining, informative, engaging, helpful, inspiring.”
  • “Very interesting. Lots of food for thought.”
  • “Spider webs is a very useful concept. Cultural sensitivity in writing characters is enough to make me write only Anglo-celtic characters.”
  • “Pleasantly surprised to find this such a useful workshop particularly in terms of understanding what is culture and its importance in creating a complex, viable character.”
  • “Gillian’s skills meant her technique was very effective in terms of developing character and structure before you actually start writing.”
  • “A very interesting study of cultural differences and similarities, and the assumptions associated with these.”
  • “Very challenging and thought-provoking workshop. Gillian had much to say of great worth.”


Congratulations Gillian on your two Ditmar nominations!



About the presenter: Gillian Polack

Canberra ACT

Visiting from ANU in Canberra, Gillian Polack has doctorates in English and History and an MA in Medieval Studies to complement her six published novels. A devoted Doctor Who fan, Gillian Polack jokes she’s the embodiment of the “Three Doctors” : Dr Dr GP.

The wonderful thing about reaching a certain age is that I have a rich past full of interesting events. How much do I admit to here? As little as possible. Or maybe just the impressive bits.

I currently live in Canberra, Australia.

So many people ask what I do. Mostly, just at this moment, I say that I’m a writer. All my interests revolve back towards writing. I used to explain that I was a food historian or a Medievalist or a book reviewer. Sometimes I still say that I edit (for I do). Sometimes I say that I teach, for I adore teaching and tend to acquire the most interesting students. I have a research side, which you can see from some of my publications. All these are true. I also advise writers (often about history, but also about grammar and the publishing world), and various other people about various other things. In 2010 (which is when the first version of this “About me” was created) those ‘other people’ included the guides at the Jewish Museum of Australia (on Jewish food history); writers on world-building and on the Middle Ages, on cultural matters and on punctuation; a farmer on the serious subject of peacocks; the Jane Austen Festival on dinner parties; a community group on writing reviews; an editor on how social media worked; and… that’s probably enough. That was a quiet year, too. Since then I’ve had busy years, and I’m scared to list what I’ve done.

I have a doctorate in English and another in History and an MA in Medieval Studies and have six novels published. While I like to claim that the second doctorate is purely for cosmetic purposes (so that people can make puns about my name, for instance, which they do, since I am now Dr Dr GP and a Dr Who fan which makes me the Three Doctors and explains much) it’s actually a change in career. While I’m still a practising historian, the writing and editing and the teaching of writing and its various tools are the centre of my life.

Books by Gillian Polack


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Baggage: Tales of Speculative Fiction

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Ms Cellophane

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Langue[dot]doc 1305

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1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Writers of the Far South Coast
(02) 6448 9948


WFSC Member $15
Non-Member $20


Gillian Polack
Canberra ACT


Club Sapphire
119 Main St
Merimbula, ACT 2548 Australia
Club Sapphire
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