Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney and left school after grade ten to work for a major Australian bank. She later worked as a consultant for a travel company and travelled to England, China, the (then) Soviet Union, and the United States of America. She then completed a teaching degree and went on to teach at a Roman Catholic high school.
While working as a bank officer, Marchetta began writing the novel Looking for Alibrandi (1992), a story of a third-generation Italian-Australian schoolgirl who experiences love, death, and the secrets of her family's past. In 1993, this novel was shortlisted for the New South Wales and South Australian State Literature Awards, and won the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Book of the Year: Older Readers).
Marchetta was asked to develop a screenplay, and the resultant film, Looking for Alibrandi (1999), also won a number of awards, including both AFI Awards and FCCA Awards for best adapted screenplay and an AFI Award for Best Film.
Marchetta followed Looking for Alibrandi with Saving Francesca (2003), which won her a second Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Book of the Year: Older Readers), and On the Jellicoe Road (2006), which won her a Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2009, and was shortlisted for both an Australian Book Industry Award (Australian Book of the Year for Older Children) and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards (Best Young Adult Book).
In 2010, she published an 'accompanying novel' to Saving Francesca: The Piper's Son, told through the eyes of another character from Saving Francesca. The Piper's Son was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards (Ethel Turner Prize), the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Book of the Year: Older Readers), the Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Young Adult's Fiction), and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards (Best Young Adult Book), and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.
In 2008, she began publishing her fantasy trilogy The Lumatere Chronicles: Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, and Quintana of Charyn. The first volume in this trilogy brought Marchetta her first Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction (Young Adult Division — Best Novel).
Though Marchetta has written little in the way of film and television scripts since Looking for Alibrandi, she did contribute an episode to season two of the ABC's multi award-winning children's series Dance Academy.
She also wrote the introduction to the Text Publishing 2013 edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and has published short stories, essays, reviews, and newspaper articles.
In 2013, Marchetta was nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
'Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop. Almost over it. Still not dealing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break up of his marriage.
'Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.
'The suspect is 17 year old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.
'As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, he finds himself reluctantly working with Noor LeBrac and her younger brother, Jimmy Sarraf.
'And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours. Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter.
'Tell the truth. Shame the devil. Bish can’t get Violette LeBrac’s words out of his head. But what he may get is some sort of peace with his own past as the worlds of those involved in two bombings, years apart, collide into the journey of his life. ' (Publication summary)
A co-Australian and German television series, Dance Academy revolves around Tara Webster, a young woman who has grown up on property in outback Australia all the while dreaming of becoming a dancer. When she makes it into the National Academy of Dance, Tara realises that her life is about to change forever. As the series progresses, she also comes to realise that she is not alone in this journey.
'Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.
'But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle's death.
'And in a year when everything's broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.'