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Maria Katsonis

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Personal Development, Social Issues

Maria is the good Greek girl who grew up above her parents’ Melbourne milk bar and shared a bedroom with her yiayia – until university when she discovered her rebellious side. She tells her story in her acclaimed memoir together with her experience of a complete mental breakdown that shattered her professional and personal identity. Maria is now a vocal mental health advocate and an ambassador for Beyond Blue.

Where were you born?

I was born in Footscray West and General Hospital although I was close to making my arrival in parent’s milk bar had a taxi not arrived in time.

What other jobs have you had?

My professional history is eclectic to say the least. I abandoned nine-tenths of an economics degree for a career in the theatre and toured shows to Asia, Europe and South America. After a decade in the arts, I decided it was time for a career change and became a bureaucrat. I currently work part time as a senior executive in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Giving voice, whether it be the lived experience of mental illness or the migrant perspective. As a creative non-fiction writer, I have a commitment to emotional truth and authenticity.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Graduating with a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. The spine-tingling ceremony was held in an outdoor ampitheatre overflowing with 10,000 spectators and the rousing sounds of pipers and drummers.

Where have your works been published?

My memoir was published in 2015 through Ventura Press. I’ve also been published in The Age and The Guardian.

What are you passionate about?

Social justice, equality and smashing stigma. I’m also passionate about my portly puss Romeo who appears in my memoir.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Not really, unless you’ve snuck into one of my public lectures at Melbourne University or taken one of my writing classes with Writers Victoria.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’m currently working on my second book – co-editing a collection of personal essays about rebellious daughters. The anthology will be out in 2016.

Testimonials

Maria was an engaging and inspirational speaker who displayed incredible courage and humour whilst talking about her chronic mental illness. The audience were totally absorbed, laughing at some stories and also moved to tears by others. Mayor Phillip Vlahogiannis attended the event and thanked her wholeheartedly following her talk.

—E. Greenhatch, Fitzroy Library, October 2015

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