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Born in Melbourne, Gillian Polack has a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in History from Melbourne University, a Master of Arts from the Centre for Medieval Studies (University of Toronto), a Doctor of Philosophy in History at the University of Sydney from the University of Sydney, teaching qualifications from the University of New England, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing from the University of Western Australia.
Polack researches food history, including teaching food history at the Australian National University. She has also been a columnist for the American online literary magazine BiblioBuffet, and has worked on the conference circuit, including WolrdCon, Flycon (an online science-fiction convention), and Conflux. Her non-fiction includes scholarly work on the Middle ages, including Arthurian literature, food, and Jewish experiences in the medieval period.
Gillian Polack received a Macquarie Bank Fellowship and a Blue Mountains Fellowship to work on novels at Varuna writers' residence in the Blue Mountains. She has published a number of novels and short stories, and has also edited collections of speculative fiction.
In 2018, IFWG Published Australia announced that they would be publishing a new science-fiction novel by Polack, The Year of the Fruitcake, in the first quarter of 2019.
For works not individually indexed on AustLit, see notes below.
'The Year of the Fruitcake tells of the Earth-based life of a mostly-mindwiped alien anthropologist inhabiting a human perimenopausal body instead of her own more rational body with its capacity to change gender. This alien has definitely shaken a great intergalactic empire by sitting in cafés with her new best friends. Chocolate may or may not have played a part. Will humanity survive?'
'Mountains of the Mind – A Polack Retrospective contains never before published early work from Dr Polack, prizewinning published pieces and brand new short stories written especially for this book. It will surprise and delight fans of her previous 6 novels and non fiction publications, and introduce new readers to the complexities and subtleties of Dr Polack’s short stories. Traversing the mountains and valleys, and following the twists and turns in time and place you will return again and again to the stories in this book. The paths to the top of these mountains are many, and the views from there are spectacular.'