New Voices

New Voices is about the art of storytelling, featuring the work of new writers (most of whom are yet to be published); they provide listeners with writing tips, read a sample of their work, and are critiqued by a complete stranger. Tune in to New Voices to find your way back to why we all want to read and write stories to begin with - sharing experiences, making sense of the world, and creating worlds with words.

Season Two 

Episode 3: Artist Joel Dickens Reviews Bondi Novel by Robyn Edwards 

Surfing the Dark Arts, produced by Maria Issaris 

New Voices 3 (2)

Robyn Edwards is a social worker who took a year off to ‘explore her creative side’ and ended up writing a magic-realism novel set in Bondi - luxuriating in descriptions of bright sun, glinting sands, and surf. Joel Dickens is an established artist born in Britain who explores the darker equation of the human condition in his startling abstract works. Is there common ground between these two creative strangers?  You bet.

As it turned out, Joel isn’t a beach person at all. “I like it, for... about 15 minutes,” he said. He grew up in the south of England with grey stretched out coastlines and wavelets lapping on pebbly beaches - which reduced his new Australian bride - distressed that such a thing could be called a beach - to tears.

Was Joe going to appreciate a novel which was a tribute to the Aussie beach scene? Hell, yes. Joel finds much to soothe his soul in Robyn’s work. He catches Robyn bringing the deeper and more disturbing elements of Bondi culture right out into the bright Australian sun - homelessness, domestic violence, and social inequity. His own mother was a social worker, and he knows full well it’s not the type of job you leave at the office – but it can certainly make its way into your creative zone. Then he admits to his own secret project - a work-in-progress novel that he has not shown a soul.

Join these two diverse characters as they find challenge and social solace in our fair sunshine. But due caution listeners: slap on your 50+ before slipping into…. this Episode.

The Author: Robyn Edwards

Day Job: Social Worker

Writing: Magic realism novels set in Bondi

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Bondi Beach local, Robyn Edwards, lives to face the breaking waves each day. In her debut novel, ‘Blue Wave Bondi’, she plunges into deep waters to write a story of love to the ocean, the people living on its edge and our shared futures. As an advocate for social justice and equality all her long working life, Robyn has written a novel with lots of heart, reflected in the young activists Anu and Jai. The social crime of homelessness, belonging to community and friendship with First Nations people are themes woven into the narrative.

She is now writing a sequel, another novel set in Bondi, but this time during the time of the virus lockdown.

The Critiquer: Joel Dickens

Day Job: Abstract Artist

Writing: secret novel

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Joel Dickens was born in London, grew up in Essex and studied Fine Art in the Lake District, moving to Sydney in 2003. Whilst in London Joel exhibited consistently, mostly around Shoreditch and London's East End. At that time Joel's raw and childlike paintings were admired by members of the Stuckist movement and he exhibited alongside them in a number of shows at Gallery 108 and Compton Gallery. In 2005 Joel was picked up by Arthouse Gallery in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, where he enjoyed considerable success. He also took part in the Curwoods residency which led to an exhibition in Australia Square. His work was also exhibited and sold through Branco Gallery in Buenos Aires.

Episode 2: Stephen O’Doherty reviews Lara Harriman

Depression gets kicked to the floor! Two word-crafters show how creativity wins out every time, and how the dark side gives them an edge.

Welcome to Season 2 of New Voices, and be prepared for an Episode stacked with surprises. Of course the main topic is writing, and what a writer we have! Young Lara Harriman, at 23, is our youngest writer so far, and she writes like a dream - plunging us into her soft-science-fiction, young-adult novel. Think supernatural powers, mystery murders and a heroic police duo patrolling the night...

And she is critiqued by Stephen O’Doherty, a man who has a stellar career in journalism and parliament, and crosses so many creative and professional boundaries it is hard to put a fix on him. He is an ex-ABC journalist and MP, a TV and radio commentator, the director/conductor of an orchestra, the chair of no less than 3 radio stations, and also heads the Christian Media and Arts Association (CMAA). But his real creative space? Well, says Stephen O’ Doherty, of all these things it is his role as a leader this is his most potent creative cauldron. It’s about conjuring a vision for the future, he says, just like a creative writer conjures a world for a listener and reader.

Well, you would think we have enough there for any writer’s program to feel full. But as it turns out, Stephen and Lara (complete strangers to each other) have more than word-craft in common. Both have struggled with severe depression from a very young age - a condition that has beset and coloured their lives.

No one could have been more surprised than me - the words that I would have used to describe them? Prodigiously intelligent, enthusiastic, energetic and outgoing. But each has dealt positively with their condition - Lara goes so far as to say it gives her an edge as a writer - allows her to see the world and people in a slightly different way, and sparking in her a desire to connect more deeply with others. Stephen heartily agrees. It seems they have not only learned to tame the beast, they have integrated it, and not just integrated it, but let it roar as a unique expression of who they are. Inspiring is a pretty small word for such big acts.

Get set for this remarkable Episode, ponder some tricks of the writer’s trade, and learn a whole lot more about Dr Who than you might care to (thanks to Lara’s obsession). And of course a customary Caution to Listeners: there is a shameless abuse of the Tardis as a metaphoric device - a remorseless thrashing - and I am sad to report that Stephen although the main culprit, was not alone.

Step this way into this innocent looking red phone-booth, my friend, and should you find yourself in a surprisingly large space twinkling with panels, and glowing lights, and strange whooshing noises, strap yourselves in - Stephen O’ Doherty and Lara Harriman will show you the way - just follow the line of lights.....

Writer: Lara Harriman

Lara Harriman

Day-Job: Communications graduate, undertaking Honours degree.

Writing: Soft Science Fiction novel- Antiqua Mysteria

Lara Harriman was born and raised in a single-parent family in Canberra and then the Central Coast and is currently studying her Honours year of a Bachelor of Communications at UTS in Sydney, majoring in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Sydney.

She was always an avid reader as a kid, once reading 70 books in a month to raise money for the MS Readathon. But she was most drawn to writing through her obsession with shows such as Doctor Who as a kid. By the age of ten, she declared she either wanted to be an author or a screenwriter on the show. Lara made her mother send a six-page Doctor Who fan letter (with two pages of drawings) to BBC Cardiff, proclaiming her undying love.

Before attending university, she did a Diploma in Screen and Media at an acting and filmmaking school, Sydney Actors School. She loved the whole experience but could not do further studies due to funding cuts to arts schools from the government. Her other interests include singing an endless stream of Julie Andrews and Barbra Streisand, drawing graphite portraits of her favourite female characters and over-dissecting films and shows for her long-suffering friends and family.

Her dream for the future is an eclectic career between publishing, writing, acting, and film making.


Stephen O'Doherty

Day Job - journalist by trade - Polymath by inclination. everything from music to leading organisations.

Writes: Visions for his organisations.

Stephen O’Doherty has an extensive background in media, public policy, education and the arts.

In the 1980s Stephen was a radio and TV journalist with commercial stations and the ABC.

From 1992 – 2002 he was a Member of the NSW Parliament. From 1995 he served in the Shadow Cabinet in the portfolios of Education, Disability and Community Services and Treasury.

Stephen was the inaugural CEO of Christian Schools Australia from 2002 – 2017.

Stephen’s time is now heavily invested in community media and the arts.

He chairs three community Christian stations including Sydney’s Hope 103.2 (from 2005). As a Director of Christian Media and Arts Australia (CMAA) he represents the Christian sector on the Community Broadcasting Roundtable.

An active musician Stephen is Music Director of the Golden Kangaroos Hornsby Concert Band. He writes original works for concert band.

As the facilitator of the Roundtable of Instrumental, Vocal and Music Education Organisations he is an advocate for the NSW performing arts community.

Episode 1: Peter Fray and Tim O’Hare

Original broadcast date 08.03.2021

Editor in Chief of, Peter Fray, reviews our first playwright, Tim O’Hare

Welcome to New Voices, Season 2, and in this very first Episode we heard the work of young playwright Tim O’Hare who fearlessly explores violence, truth, power-play and politics, all in the context of one of those darker ironies of life, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Is Tim’s play Tarantino-esque or is it a hypnotically twisted version of Australian life?

Critiquing him is a man who is no stranger to fearless writing. Power, Politics and Truth-seeking? He probably stirs them in his morning coffee to add flavour. Peter Fray is Editor-in Chief of, but has presided over most of the major news publication in this fair land. And was also Professor of Journalism at UTS. He knows a thing or two about writing.

What does he think of Tim’s work? Well, confessions, revelations and plot twists abound in this Episode. Including Tim’s angst about being raised in a middle class family with loving parents who supported his ambitions and dreams. Poor Tim. What kind of background is that he laments, for a writer determined to explore the dark shadows of nefarious criminal minds. Nevertheless, he courageously forges on, and we hear excerpts from his play, in which, Peter Fray points out, Tim dissects capitalism with a very sharp comedic carving knife.

Due caution to listeners - there are drug references and swear words in this content. Naturally, I’ve blanked most out so as not to offend tender sensibilities. I’ll leave that to Tim.

Don’t miss out on this episode, and interviews with two exceptional men who share their gusto for life and writing.

By Maria Issaris, producer and presenter, New Voices

Tim O'Hare

Tim O’Hare - Playwright and Noir Novelist

Day job: Teacher

Bio: Tim O’Hare is a Sydney-based writer, originally from Brisbane. He has always written (writing his first noir novel in primary school) but only tried his hand at playwrighting recently. In particular, Tim is attracted to the dynamic nature of playwrighting which allows texts to be constantly interpreted and reinvented by actors and directors. He has written two full-length plays and a short play ‘When’s Jimmy Gettin’ Back?’ and looks to have them performed (although he admits to being ignorant of the process of bringing a play to stage). Tim’s influences are eclectic and include Woody Allen, Samuel Beckett, the Coen Brothers, Don DeLillo, Andrew Dominik, Bret Easton Ellis, Martin McDonagh, Peter Morgan, Martin Scorsese, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino and David Foster Wallace. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma in Education (Secondary) from the University of Queensland.

Of New Voices Experience:

Being on New Voices meant reading my work to an audience of strangers and receiving feedback from a critiquer unknown to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Maria (who made me sound articulate and affable thanks to the editing room) and Peter Fray’s feedback was very kind (he has interpreted intellectual elements in my play of which I was somewhat unaware but which I have now readily claim as my original intention). Writing is, by its nature, an introverted pursuit and the tendency for writers is to labour over their masterpiece in the dark. But I strongly encourage all aspiring writers to seek out other writers and have the courage to submit their work to criticism from strangers. The opportunities for feedback which were afforded to me through my two writers’ groups and New Voices have been crucial to my development as a writer.

Peter Fray

Day job: Managing Editor, Private Media and Editor-in-Chief, Crikey

Bio: Peter Fray is one of Australia’s most respected, innovative and experienced journalists and editors. He has been deputy editor of The Australian, is the founder of fact-checking website, PolitiFact Australia, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald and the former editor of The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age. He held the position of Professor of Journalism Practice and Head of Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney before taking charge of the independent online news publication

As a reporter, Fray has covered politics, national affairs, religion and agriculture and been a foreign correspondent, features writer and gossip columnist. Aside from his masthead editorships, he has been a contributor to Channel 7, the ABC, the BBC and Al-Jazeera.He has also been a consultant to or founder of several digital media start-ups and is a regular commentator on TV and a sought after public speaker.