The Long and Short Story


Mary-Lou Stephens was born in Tasmania, studied acting at The Victorian College of the Arts and played in bands in Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney.

Eventually she got a proper job – in radio, where she was a presenter and music director, first with commercial radio and then with the ABC.

She received great reviews for her memoir Sex, Drugs and Meditation (Pan Macmillan, 2013), the true story of how meditation changed her life, saved her job and helped her find a husband. 

Her debut novel, The Last of the Apple Blossom, was published by HarperCollins (HQ) in 2021 and The Chocolate Factory in 2024.

Mary-Lou has worked and played all over Australia. Now she’s travelling the world with her husband, slowly, and writing, mostly.

Long (and more personal)

If one more person said to me “When one door closes another one opens,” I was going to throttle them. But you know what? They were right. For years I’d been playing in bands, touring and releasing CDs. I’d had a great time but was getting nowhere. When my last band broke up I knew I couldn’t do it all over again. I was heartbroken and exhausted and I had no idea what to do next. I’d studied acting at the Victorian College of the Arts and played in bands in Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney, none of which had set me up for a career. All I could see ahead was a string of dead-end jobs. That’s when the other door opened. It didn’t just open, a doorman opened it for me with a smile and inside a group of people greeted me with open arms. That was the doorway to radio.

When I was working in bands I played music and talked in between. When I started in commercial radio I played music and talked in between. Perfect. After working in commercial radio as a presenter and Music Director I joined the ABC on the Sunshine Coast and stayed there for 15 years. In that time I presented every shift ever invented and was the Music Director both locally and nationally. I presented the national networked program from the Woodford Folk Festival many times and had my own national show on ABC Local Radio digital and online, and on Radio Australia.

While I was working with the ABC I wanted to find out whether I could write a book and if, after having done that, I would want to write another. I took six months leave without pay and discovered the answer to both  questions was, “Yes.” My memoir Sex, Drugs and Meditation was published by Pan Macmillan in 2013.

I wrote three novels that I regard as my practise books. Through writing them I discovered much about myself and learnt a lot about writing. They may never see the light of day but that’s of no concern, they’ve served their purpose. My fourth novel was a true labour of love, a book of my heart, set in Tasmania where I grew up. Through it I found the genre that fascinates and inspires me – historical fiction.

That book, The Last of the Apple Blossom , was published by HarperCollins (HQ) in 2021. My next novel, The Chocolate Factory, set at Cadbury’s Tasmanian factory during the early 1920s, was released in February 2024.

I’ve left the world of radio for the world of fiction and now slow travel the world with my husband. The journey continues.