For over ten years now Simon Clews has been the Director of the Melbourne Engagement Lab at Melbourne University (formerly known as the Writing Centre for Scholars and Researchers). This unique Centre supports postgraduate students, early career researchers and academic staff as they transform their research into writing for non-specialist audiences. Graduates of the Lab’s programs have published everything from award-winning books to trend-setting blogs, including articles, newspaper columns, opinion pieces and essays.
Simon also works with writers and academics around the world to help them improve their writing and develop their careers as providers of creative, well-written non-fiction for a commercial market. His client list includes:
- ETHZ’s Future Cities Laboratory at the National University of Singapore
- University of British Columbia, Vancouver
- Griffith Review, Australia
- University of Hong Kong
- University of Edinburgh’s Beltane Centre
- University of Western Australia
- Science Pathways, Australia
- Professional Historians’ Association of Australia
- National Book Development Council of Singapore
- Edith Cowan University, Perth
- University of Queensland
- Burnet Institute, Melbourne
- Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne
- RMIT University, Melbourne
- University of Tasmania
- University of Victoria, Vancouver Island
- Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, Melbourne
- St Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver
- Surrey International Writers Conference, Vancouver
- Australian Medical Students’ Association.
He is Creative Program Director for Melbourne’s Reader’s Feast book store producing Crime & Justice, a celebration of crime writing and social justice that takes place in November (12 and 13 this year) and the History Writers Festival (scheduled for the weekend of 16 and 17 April). Before becoming the Writing Centre’s inaugural Director, he was the Festival Director and CEO of Melbourne Writers’ Festival for fourteen years. And, prior to this, he was responsible for programming Stories Alive, a large-scale celebration of writing for children, and two precursors to Writers on Collins - Writers at the Convent and Writers at Como.
In total he has staged thirty major literary events, in addition to dozens of smaller events, and has presented over 3,000 writers to a combined audience of nearly half a million book lovers. Put simply – Simon knows books and writing!
In 2002 the French Government honoured Simon’s contribution to the promotion of French culture in Australia by awarding him the French Flair Award. As well as some very flattering speeches and much kissing on both cheeks, he received a bronze casting of Degas’ La Danseuse from the Louvre and a magnum of Pol Roger. The statue still proudly adorns a shelf in his office. The Pol Roger – sadly – is long gone.
Simon attended the New York Writers Workshop Non-Fiction Pitch Conference in 2011 and 2012, the City University of New York’s Publishing Institute in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and the 2014 Asia Pacific Writers & Translators International Conference.
He is a regular book reviewer and contributor to newspapers and magazines and once even took his highly honed retail skills and ventured into the world of guidebooks with Let’s Go Shopping, a very tongue-in-cheek international mail order shopping directory. Much praised and slated to become an annual fixture on the publishing calendar, this bright idea was killed stone dead by something called The Internet. You may have heard of it. Simon is still plotting revenge.
Late last year Simon launched a digital publishing house: check out ideePOP for more details of this very exciting venture. He is currently looking for unpublished short stories set on iconic Orchard Road, Singapore for an anthology to be published later this year – Orchard Road Stories – and new fiction set on another of Simon’s favourite places, Granville Island in Vancouver, for a second anthology to be released early next year – Granville Island Stories.
And, if you haven’t read enough about Simon here, you can find out about what came before all this here.