Alumni Profiles

Varuna Alumni Association: the craft, the writing life

Member Profiles


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Louise ALLAN

Louise Allan Louise’s first novel, The Sisters’ Song was published in 2018 by Allen and Unwin. She was the recipient of the 2018 Tina Kane Emergent Writer Award at the Mildura Writers Festival, and, in 2014, her manuscript was awarded a Varuna residential fellowship and shortlisted for the City of Fremantle-TAG Hungerford Award.

Louise grew up in Tasmania but now lives in Western Australia with her husband, four children and two dogs. She is a former doctor and has a passion for music.
Facebook:Louise Allan-Writer



ALLAN RoseFor the past 33 years I have lived on Queensland's Sunshine Coast where I run my Writing from the Heart Consultancy. My two books of imaginative non-fiction - Out of this Whirlwind, and Spirit of Noosa - use both word and photographic image. Short stories are published in journals and in the anthologies: Award Winning Australian Writing 2013 (Melbourne Books), and Lost Boy and Other Stories 2015 (Margaret River Press). After attending a juicy Varuna Focus week with Tegan Bennett Daylight in 2016 I am working on a collection of my short fiction. A recently completed novel addresses a theme of mercy killing.


Claire AMAN

Claire Aman Claire grew up in Melbourne and has lived for 25 years in Grafton, an inspiring town. Varuna, a house for supreme happiness, has helped her cultivate a writing life since 2004. Her short stories have been published in New Australian Stories 1 and 2, Best Australian Stories 2008 and 2014, Escape, Cracking the Spine, The Trouble with Flying, Award Winning Australian Writing 2014, Southerly, Island, Heat, Australian Book Review and Griffith Review, and read on ABC Radio's Short Story. She has a novel that lives in her grandmother’s old desk.



ARMSTRONG SarahSarah was a journalist with the ABC, where she won a Walkley Award. She has published three novels: Salt Rain, His Other House and Promise and lives on the north coast of NSW with her partner, the writer Alan Close, and their young daughter.

Facebook: Sarah Armstrong - writer


ATKINSON MeeraMeera Atkinson is a Sydney-based literary writer, academic, and the author of Traumata (2018), The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma (2017), and co-editor of Traumatic Affect (2013). Meera was awarded the 2017 Varuna Dr Dark Flagship Fellowship for non-fiction. She teaches creative writing and literature.


Julie BAIL

Julie Bail Julie has written two plays and several revue sketches, all of which have been successfully performed. She completed her second novel via a Varuna Fellowship in 2003 and a Varuna/HarperCollins Manuscript Development Award in 2006. She is working on her third novel.



BALDWIN AndreaAndrea is a psychologist and writer, originally from country Queensland. She now lives in Brisbane with her husband, two teenaged children and small dragon. Andrea came to Varuna as one of the inaugural recipients of the Affirm Press Mentorship Award in 2015. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from QUT, and has published poetry, short stories, travel stories and feature articles. Andrea is currently working on a YA novel.



Facebook: @AndreaBaldwinAuthor




Helen Barnes-Bulley Helen is a graduate of Sydney University and The National Institute of Dramatic Art. She has written for theatre, television and radio; her play Autumn Exchanges won an AWGIE Award, and Ladies At Lunch won the ABC Bicentennial Literary Award for Drama. She has published essays and short stories in a variety of literary journals and is working on two related novels. Her most recent works appear in Southerly, Griffith Review and in the current and upcoming editions of Meanjin. Helen works at Varuna in a range of writing programs along with Peter Bishop and Carol Major.



Taryn Bashford Taryn lives the typical writer’s life with supportive husband, teen children, and characters from her latest book insisting they help make dinner. This can be disconcerting as Jacob is always sticking his fingers in the cheese sauce and Harper can’t cook. Taryn’s been an English Literature Honours student, an advertising sales rep and a CEO of an internet company, but she plans to write inspiring, engaging novels until the day she can no longer type.

Thanks to the programs provided by Varuna House Taryn’s debut novel The Harper Effect will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan in December 2017 as part of a two book deal. In addition, The Harper Effect will be published in the USA in May 2018.



Lesley Beasley Lesley first came to Varuna for a Longlines masterclass and in 2007 she was on the Longlines selection panel. In previous incarnations she has been a short story writer, poet and award-winning book reviewer. These days she is more than a little obsessed with both a history and a novel set in colonial Australia. Lesley has an MA in creative writing and a passionate belief that every story is worth telling, although she has yet to start on her own.


Melissa BEIT

Melissa BeitMelissa Beit has had stories published in several Best Australian Stories, The Big Issue, Southerly, Meanjin, the Sleepers Almanac, New Australian Stories, Skive Magazine, the Australian Women’s Weekly, and various national and international anthologies. She lives in coastal NSW with her family and a bunch of chooks. She’s nuts about Varuna.




Gail Bell Gail Bell was born in Sydney, educated in pharmacy and education at the University of Sydney, and has worked as a pharmacist, drug educator, chemistry teacher, literacy tutor, and occasional reviewer and journalist. Her three major works to date are The Poison Principle (Picador), winner of the NSW Premier’s Prize for Non-Fiction 2002; SHOT: A Personal Response to Guns and Trauma (Picador), 2003, shortlisted for the Nita B. Kibble award and Quarterly Essay # 18: The Worried Well (Black Inc) 2005, all polished at and supported by Varuna.




Tegan Bennett Daylight Tegan has been involved with the community of Varuna since her first fellowship in 1999, during which she worked on her second novel What Falls Away (2001). Safety (2006), was also partly written during a fellowship, and she is hoping to be back soon to concentrate on her fourth book of fiction. She has also worked as a mentor and workshop leader at Varuna, and made many long-lasting friendships there.



Jesse Blackadder Jesse Blackadder is fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and very cold places. Her novel After the Party made the Australian Book Review list of favourite Australian novels in 2010. The Raven’s Heart won the Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Award and was published in Australia in 2011 and in the UK, USA and Canada in 2012. Chasing the light: A novel of Antarctica, which she wrote as part of a Doctor of Creative Arts, comes out in early 2013. Jesse won the 2011-12 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship and the 2012 Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism. She has been a writer in residence in Alaska, Antarctica, outback NSW and Byron Bay. Her first children’s novel Stay: the last dog in Antarctica is coming out in 2013, as part of the Amazing Animals series.



BLACKFORD JennyJenny Blackford is a poet and writer based in Newcastle, Australia. Her poems and stories have been published in Australian Poetry Journal, Cosmos Magazine, Westerly, the NSW School Magazine and more. Her poetry prizes during 2014 included first place in the Humorous Verse section of the Henry Lawson awards, second in the W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia and third in the ACU Prize for Literature. In 2013, Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated pamphlet of her cat poems, The Duties of a Cat. Legendary feminist Pamela Sargent called her historical novella set in ancient Greece, The Priestess and the Slave, “elegant”.




BOLTON trish Trish Bolton’s novel, Stuck, was the recipient of a 2018 Varuna PIP Fellowship and a 2015 Varuna Residential Fellowship. In 2017, Stuck was longlisted for the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition (UK) and Flash 500 Novel Competition (UK), and in 2016, was the joint-winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Unpublished Manuscript Award. Trish’s script, Alzheimer’s: a love story, was runner-up in the FAW Whitelight TV Drama Script Award, and a short story, ‘Orbits of the Sun’, was published in Visible Ink. Her writing – features, opinion, travel, book reviews – has appeared in most major Australian newspapers, on the Overland Literary Journal website, in The Big Issue and NewMatilda, and in a number of other publications.There’s more than a few gardening articles floating around, too. Trish has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT and lives in Melbourne’s inner north. She is currently at work on a next novel titled Life itself.



Mark Brandi Mark Brandi was born in Italy, but raised in a remote Australian pub.

Mark’s writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Age, The Big Issue, and is often broadcast on Radio National. He is the winner of the 2016 UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger for his first novel manuscript, Wimmera, which he developed during two residential fellowships at Varuna.

Hachette Australia will publish Wimmera in 2017.



CADWALLADER RobynRobyn is a poet and fiction writer who lives in the country outside Canberra. Winning the Varuna LitLink Byron Bay Writers Festival Unpublished Manuscript Aware in 2011 and the accompanying residency set her on the way for completing her first novel, The Anchoress, published in 2015 by HarperCollins, as well as in the UK (Faber), USA (Farrer, Straus & Giroux), and France (Gallimard/Denoel). Her second novel, Book of Colours, was published in 2018.



CAHILL Joan2 Joan Cahill’s 2016 poetry collection Buddha’s Left Foot focuses on art, language, culture and everyday life.
In 2008, Joan was awarded a LitLink Residency at Varuna, following a mentorship with Peter Bishop. Her writing has been influenced by this time and also from her long involvement with Booranga Writers at Charles Sturt University.
She has had around twenty five poems published in anthologies all over Australia with several prize winners, including the Melbourne Poets Union’s 2012 Urban Realism Award.
Originally from Melbourne, she has lived and loved in Wagga Wagga for over forty years.


Donna Cameron Originally an actress, Donna Cameron is an AWGIE nominated radio dramatist, award winning playwright and celebrated short film writer. The author of several stage plays, including her critically acclaimed solo work, The Flowering. Donna has had four plays produced by ABC Radio National – Water Tight, The Salt Maiden, Bringing Down the Moon and Shopping for Lifeforms. She is a recipient of the Australian Writers Guild/Queensland Theatre Company Mentorship Scheme and twice recipient of the Fresh Ground Scheme, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. Her screenplay of The Salt Maiden won best screenplay at the 2014 Port Stephens Film Festival and overall winner of 2015 Coasties Film Festival. She commenced work on her first novel Beneath the Mother Tree, under a Regional Arts Development grant. In 2015 she was selected for a Varuna Litlink residency to further develop the book. It will be published by MidnightSun in 2018. Donna is currently working on her second novel and taking notes for a third.


David Carlin David Carlin is a writer, creative artist, teacher and researcher. His widely acclaimed memoir Our Father Who Wasn’t There (Scribe) was published in 2010. His creative non-fiction, essays and articles have appeared in various journals and he has previously written and directed for theatre, film and circus. David is an Associate Professor in creative writing in RMIT’s School of Media and Communication, from where he also co-chairs the international NonfictioNow Conference, and is co-director of the nonfictionLab research group. He is also co-director of the WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange) program bringing together Australian and Asian writers in collaborative residencies. In 1997 he directed the Circus Oz show in Australia and New York and since 2008 has led the Circus Oz Living Archive project. He has previously been Artistic Director of Arena Theatre and a founding member of the Red Shed Theatre Company. His plays have been produced at festivals around Australia and internationally. He lives in East Brunswick with his wife and two children.


Val Carter Val Carter was born in the wheatbelt town of Meckering, Western Australia, in 1935. Valma (Val) Shehan grew upon the family wheat and sheep farm with three brothers. Her education started at the small North Meckering School, where there were never more than fourteen students till the end of the Second World War, when a school bus was provided for children to attend the bigger Meckering school. Her three years of secondary education were spent at a Catholic boarding school in Fremantle. In 1956, Val married a local farmer, Ron Carter. Together they raised five children while they spent many years developing and moving to their property Four Corners, twenty -five miles west of Badgingarra.
Val was widowed in 1996 after she and Ron had retired to Mandurah. Since then Val has doggedly stuck to the task of finally completing this publication, A Piece of Good Land, after attending a Writer Development Residency Program in April 2015. The Memoir was published and launched in October 2016.



Felicity Castagna Felicity Castagna received a fellowship to spend three blissful weeks at Varuna in 2010. Her short stories have been broadcast on ABC Radio National and are widely published in Australian Literary magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of short stories, Small Indiscretions, will be published by Transit Lounge in August 2011.



cons CHIPPERFIELD JoIn 13 years as a freelance writer and editor Jo wrote a vast array of texts including commercial advertising, magazine articles, exhibition text and tertiary education guides. She is currently a Grants Officer in the Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University. Jo has a degree in English language and literatures and a Masters in postcolonial literature; her thesis explored the short stories of Peter Carey and Robert Drewe. She also has as a postgraduate qualification in Editing and Publishing (UTS 2006) and in 2013 completed a PhD in English at the University of Sydney, where she also tutored in literature and academic writing. Her doctoral thesis used the case study of the brutal 1920s murder of an English police officer to explore the influence and significance of 'Golden Age' detective fiction narrative structures on interwar crime journalism, police reporting and early true crime. She was one of the recipients of the 2013 Varuna Publisher Program Awards for the creative non-fiction treatment of her thesis topic, and is currently working on a historical crime novel using her research. As a Varuna consultant she offers a wide ranging critical knowledge of creative non-fiction and specialises in crime writing (fiction and non-fiction).




Keryn Clark Keryn is a Perth based graduate of the University of Western Australia. She has recently completed her PhD in Creative Writing and attended the retreat in January 2013 on a Varuna Fellowship Award. She is currently working on a non-fiction work entitled Bloom. Keryn is grateful for the peace and the community of writers she found at Varuna both of which were enriching experiences. She is proud to be an alumni and included in what is a wonderful writing tradition.


Josephine CLARKE

Josephine Clark Josephine Clarke now lives in Fremantle. She is a member of the collective that organises Voicebox - monthly poetry readings at The Fremantle Fibonacci Centre - and has been actively involved with Out of the Asylum Writers’ Group, based at the Fremantle Arts Centre. She has had poetry and short stories published in Australian journals including Cordite, and Westerly. In 2015 Josephine attended a Strictly Poetry Focus Week at Varuna, the National Writers’ House, with Deb Westbury. She was a featured poet of the 2016 Perth Poetry Festival where she launched her first poetry chapbook, between white.




Jane Clifton Jane Clifton first came to Varuna in 2006 on a fellowship and fell in love with the big, old house. Not a lot of crime-fiction writers make it to Varuna but she felt very much at home. In 2008 an Australia Council fellowship of six weeks at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre made it possible for Jane to travel to the northern hemisphere in order to work on a non-fiction book in which she describes what happened when she went back to visit every house she ever lived in – all 32 of them.

The Address Book was published by Penguin on May 30th, 2011.



Kate Cole-AdamsKate Cole-Adams lives and writes in Melbourne and gets up to Varuna whenever she can. Her most recent book, Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness won the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award, 2017 and is shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-fiction, 2017. Her novel, Walking to the Moon, was shortlisted for the unpublished manuscript category of the 2006 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.


Cathy COLE

Cathy Cole Cathy, a novelist, non-fiction writer and Senior Lecturer in Writing at UTS in Sydney, says her first Varuna residency in 1996 transformed the ways in which she identified as a writer. Since that time she's published three novels and a non-fiction book, poetry and essays. Her most recent novel, The Grave at Thu Le (Picador, 2005) was completed during a Varuna fellowship. Cathy has returned to Varuna as a fellowships panel judge, a mentor, and to take part in Varuna's writers’ festival sessions. She believes Varuna offers writers a unique space in which to write and to engage with a wider community of writers and publishers. Cathy is now at work on a non-fiction book about the poetics of becoming a writer and a novel about WW2 and its aftermath.



CONNOR Anne In 2015, Anne Connor stayed at Varuna and worked on her first book Two Generations. Based on true events, the book explores the lived familial impact of secrets, suffering, forgiveness, hope and redemption. The writing shines a light on the north of Australia under attack during the Second World War. Anne's fiction and non-fiction have been published in newspapers, anthologies and magazines. She took out the 2015 Alan Marshall Short Story Award (Local) and has been highly commended in national short story competitions.






CORMICK CraigCraig Cormick has stayed at Varuna several times since 1998, working on works of fiction, short-fiction and non-fiction. He has published over 25 books in Australia and overseas, across several genres, and over 100 stories in anthologies, collections and literary journals including Southerly, Island, Meanjin, 4-W, the Phoenix Review, Westerley and the Review of Australian Fiction. His writing awards include a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (A Funny Thing Happened at 27,000 Feet…), the ACT Book of the Year Award (Unwritten Histories), an ACT Writing and Publishing Award (Uncle Adolf) and the Tasmanian Writers Prize (for the short story, No Man is an Island).

He has been a writer in residence at the University of Science in Malaysia and an Antarctic Arts Fellow travelling to Antarctica. He is also former chair of the ACT Writers Centre, has PhD in Creative Writing and is a graduate of the Yale Writers’ Conference.

Web: Craig Cormick




CRANSTON BelindaAs a journalist with Fairfax Media, Belinda Cranston regularly wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald from 2005 to 2008. She later worked as a breaking news journalist in Sydney and at Parliament House, Canberra, for the news wire service, Australian Associated Press (AAP). A secondment to the UK in 2010 and 2011, where she worked as a journalist for the Press Association, renewed her love of all things English. Belinda has also filled communications roles in the higher education, not-for-profit and corporate sector. Her first novel is set in the UK and the Middle East.




Tracy Crisp Tracy Crisp has worked across platforms as varied as stand-up, novels, storytelling and memoir. The development of her first novel, Black Dust Dancing, was given a substantial boost by her time as a Varuna LongLines masterclass participant. Her most recent novel, Surrogate, was published by Wakefield Press in 2017. She is a regular participant at readings and other events, and is writing and performing her new show, Pearls, at the Adelaide Fringe in 2018. As a performer, she is known for work that brings a potent mix of humour and poignancy to any event. After several years living in Abu Dhabi, she has recently returned to Adelaide where she works as a funeral celebrant, specialising in contemporary and alternative funerals.




Chris Croyden Melbourne-based playwright, Christine Croyden was selected for the inaugural Stage and Screen residency with Katherine Thomson in May 2011. She is now keen to return to Varuna for more creative inspiration, good company, great food and guidance as soon as possible.

Christine’s plays include The Cat’s Paw, Love Your Poison and comedies The Snail Killer and Shady Ladies. Her current project, A Stranger in Town, is in collaboration with Essential Theatre and will have seasons in Geelong and Melbourne later this year. Her play, The Fallen Tree, was produced at La Mama in early 2012 and her new play titled, You Never Know is in gestation. Christine is also the author of two novels for young adults, The Painted Portal and The Memory Thief and many short stories, and is currently the Artistic Director for The Melbourne Writers’ Theatre.


Louise D'ARCY

Louise D'Arcy Louise first came to Varuna in 2004 on a Regional Writing Masterclass and has returned every year since for a week's writing. She has over 30 short stories published here and overseas. Her first novel, Harry Gets a Life, was shortlisted for the HarperCollins Varuna Award in 2005. In 2007 she entered the Canadian 3-Day Novel competition and was shortlisted for her 19,000 word novel, The Weekend. She was the 2009 winner of The Age Short Story Award, with her story, Flat Daddy.


Sharon DEAN

Sharon Dean Sharon Dean lives on the far north coast of NSW, where she runs a digital storytelling program for an aged care organisation. Outside work, her love of Japanese poetry led her to research the life of Australian haiku writer Janice M Bostok. This research became the basis for a PhD, which in 2011 won a Chancellor’s Medal at Griffith University. In April 2014, Sharon stayed at Varuna on a two-week Residential Fellowship. Between staring into the branches of the Canadian maple, delighting in the company of the other writers and falling in love with Katoomba's misty mornings, she spent her residency having a shot at turning her thesis into a novel. She hopes to return to Varuna to finish the job.



Demet Divaroren Demet Divaroren was born in Adana, Turkey and migrated to Australia with her family when she was six months old. She writes fiction and non-fiction and is the co-editor of the anthology, Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia (Allen and Unwin, 2014). Demet’s writing has appeared in Griffith Review, Island magazine, Scribe’s New Australian Stories, The Age Epicure and The Big Issue. Her first novel, Orayt?, was shortlisted for the Australian/Vogel Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

Demet is the recipient of an Australia Council Jump Mentoring Grant, an Artstart Grant, a Rosebank Residential Writing Fellowship, a Varuna Fellowship for a Writing Retreat and a Glenfern Grace Marion Wilson Fellowship. She is the Artist in Residence at Deer Park Art Spaces and has appeared as a panelist, guest speaker and workshop leader at literary festivals, universities, and schools across Melbourne.




Ross Donlon Ross Donlon is a poet, born in Sydney, who now lives in Castlemaine, Victoria.

He is widely published in Australia & also in Ireland.

He was awarded the Varuna Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship in 2010 and has won two international poetry competitions, The Wenlock Poetry Festival Competition (under the auspices of the Arvon Foundation) & the Melbourne Poets' Union International Poetry Competition.

A sequence from his book, The Blue Dressing Gown (Profile Poets) was produced for Radio National's 'Poetica' in 2013.

Ross has been a frequent reader at festivals & readings in Australia and in recent years also in England, Ireland, Norway & Romania.

His latest book, Sjovegen - (The Sea Road - 50 tanka for Alvik) is a collection in English / translated into nynorsk set in the Hardanger egion of Western Norway.

Ross had a poem included in 'Best Australian Poems 2014'.


Wendy DUNN

Wendy Dunn Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear Heart, How Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter—named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014.




Russell Eldridge Russell Eldridge is a journalist and author, whose debut novel, Harry Mac, was published by Allen and Unwin in July 2015. Russell worked on his novel during a Varuna Fellowship in 2013, the same year he undertook a residential mentorship run by the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre. He lives in Ocean Shores and is a founding member of the Byron Bay Writers Festival. Russell worked as a journalist in South Africa before emigrating to Australia in 1979. He wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald before moving north and working on The Northern Star newspaper, where he retired recently as editor. As well as writing and working as a media consultant, Russell has chaired festival panels at Byron Bay and at Ubud.


Kathleen EPELDE

Kathleen Epelde Kathleen Epelde first came to Varuna in 2006 for a Longlines Masterclass, and has recently been shortlisted for the 2010 Varuna – Harper Collins Manuscript Development Awards. Her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, including Award Winning Australian Writing 2010. She won the 2010 Northern Territory Literary Award for best travel short story, and was a finalist in the 2009 Marian Eldridge Awards for Australian Women Writers. She holds a Ph.D. in English Studies from the University of Wollongong, and a law degree from another life in the U.S. She lives in Alice Springs, where she teaches Creative Writing to Indigenous students and is finishing her memoir.




Sue Fielding Sue Fielding is an Alice Springs based poet. She has lived there for many years, working with Aboriginal organisations in community development, social work and education. She draws inspiration from country, culture and friends.

Sue is published in Fishtails in the Dust - writing from Central Australia (2009), the Australian Poetry Members Anthology 2012 Metabolism, Sotto 2012 and In the Pink - poems from the Garden (2012). Beyond conversation is the title of her self-published chapbook (2012).

In 2012, Sue completed a 6 month poetry residency in the Olive Pink Botanic Garden Alice Springs, where she offered poetry readings, writing and other opportunities. During this time she compiled a booklet of poetry written by participants in the program, called In the Pink - poems from the Garden.

Sue has participated in a Professional Development residency with poet Deb Westbury in 2012, and was awarded a Varuna Fellowship in 2013. She is currently developing a manuscript of poetry.


Susanne GERVAY

Susanne Gervay Susanne valued her Fellowship at Varuna early in her career, as it assisted in focusing her on writing. Since then she has become an award-winning children's and young adult author. Her books tackle issues from bullying, blending families, burns, male youth culture. Her much-loved I Am Jack is being adapted into a play and has become a classic book on school bullying, while Butterflies is recognised as a defining book on youth disability. The Cave confronts youth male culture today. Her new YA book, set against the background of youth music, is a unique combination of text and music. That's Why I Wrote This Song is a collaboration with her daughter Tory, who wrote the rock songs for the book.




GIACOMETTI Michael Michael Giacometti is a writer and adventurer based in Alice Springs.

Originally from Melbourne, in 2005 he and his partner set off on an open-ended working-travelling trip around Australia, with a first stop of two years in Tennant Creek. He has variously worked as a computer programmer, teacher's assistant, outdoor educator, trekking guide, Indigenous ranger coordinator, airport shuttle bus driver, supermarket shelf-stacker, art production manager and marketer, mineral surveyor, and retail sales manager.

In 2008 he became the first (and only) person to walk walk across the Simpson Desert, solo and unsupported, from east to west.

Since completing a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing in 2010, Michael has become one the the NT's prominent emerging writers. He has been described as possessing 'a singular talent with a tremendous ear' [Melanie Ostell, editor/publisher/mentor/agent] whose writing is 'heart-stopping … (perfect)' [Helen Elliott, reviewer The Australian] and 'brave … [with] a deep lyricism' [Patrick West, novelist].

His writing has won several awards, and has been published in Meanjin, Island, Wild, and several anthologies including Cracking the Spine: ten short Australian stories and how they were written (Spineless Wonders 2014), Bruno's Song and other stories from the Northern Territory (NT Writers' Centre 2011), Escape: an anthology of short stories (Spineless Wonders 2011), and Fishtails in the dust: stories from the Centre (Ptilotus Press 2009).

He is currently writing a collection of haiku (Portraits of country), and an outback-gothic novel (This landscape of failure).

He lives in Alice Springs with his partner and camp dog.




Roanna Gonsalves Roanna says her literary coughing fits eased up when she first came to Varuna in 2002 to a writers retreat and then a non-residential mentorship, both with Charlotte Wood. She is working on her first novel which she began at UTS, where Cathy Cole was her MA supervisor. Varuna has been the bronchodilator that has infused Roanna's fiction and prevented it from having an asthma attack. Roanna has worked as a reporter, script-writer, website designer and currently works at the University of New South Wales as a research assistant.


Melissa GOODE

GOODE MelissaMelissa Goode is based in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. She was the recipient of a Varuna Publisher Introduction Program (PIP) Fellowship in 2016 for her first novel. Her short stories have been published in Australia, the US, UK and Ireland and have appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, Griffith Review, Litro Magazine, New World Writing, Cleaver Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle.

Twitter: @melgoodewriter



Erin Gough Erin Gough is a Sydney-based writer whose award-winning short stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies including Black Inc.'s Best Australian Stories, Overland, Southerly, and Going Down Swinging. Her novel for young adults, The Flywheel, was Hardie Grant Egmont's Ampersand Project winner in 2013 and published in February 2015.



Gordon Graham Gordon has had two Varuna fellowships and can’t wait to get back. He began his writing career as a playwright, while a student at the university of WA. His plays include Innocent Bystanders, Demolition Job, Hanging Together, Earl, and The Boys, which was the basis for the feature film of the same name. He has won two Awgie Awards for best stage play, and one for best radio play. His first novel, Stuffed, was published in 2001, followed by Top Bloke in 2004. He has also written for television, and worked extensively in journalism. He now lives in Sydney.



Susan Green A Varuna Fellowship in 2008 helped Susan to hit her stride with her tenth book, The Truth About Verity Sparks. It was published by Walker Books in 2011 and was an Honour Book in the 2012 CBCA awards. In 2011 she stayed at Varuna again, with a Publisher Fellowship for her first adult novel. It’s still looking for a home, but another children’s book, Verity Sparks Lost and Found, will be published by Walker Books in May 2013.

Susan lives with her husband, son and Gus the miniature schnauzer in the Victorian goldfields town of Castlemaine.




Sheryl Gwyther Sheryl completed her YA manuscript, McAlpine & Macbeth, in August 2006 at a Varuna Masterclass under the direction of Peter Bishop – an inspiring and creative week. UK literary agent, Rosemary Canter loved the story so much she’s taken her on as one of her authors. In August 2008, Sheryl will be a recipient of a Creative Time Residential Fellowship at the May Gibbs Literature Foundation’s Adelaide apartment. Her first children’s novel, Secrets of Eromanga, was published by Lothian Books in 2006, and current work includes a further three novels for young people.


Eleni HALE

Eleni HaleEleni Hale's first novel Stone Girl will be published by Penguin Random House in May, 2018. She was previously a reporter at the Herald Sun, a communications strategist for the union movement and has written for many print and online news publications. Her short story fig was published as part of the ABC's In their branches project and she has received three Varuna awards. She lives in Melbourne and is currently working on her second book.

Sally HALL

Sally Hall Sally was awarded a 2014 Publisher Introduction Program Fellowship by Varuna and Text Publishing for young adult manuscript The Prediction. In 2013 she won the CBCA NSW Charlotte Waring Barton Award for a young adult manuscript Day 6 which included a mentorship with Penguin Books Australia. Published pieces include magazine articles, anthology short stories as well as several competition placings.

Sally is a mother, wife, has a day job in marketing and lives on the South Coast of NSW.

Web: Sally's blog


Penny Hanley I have a BA (Hons) from ANU and a PhD from Uni. of Canberra. I’ve published film criticism, book reviews, commentaries on HSC Advanced English, and ten short stories. My novel, Full House, a comedy about an artist’s model, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. In 1997 I gained a writer’s fellowship at Varuna to work on my second novel. Then I won a NSW Writers’ Centre mentorship with the wonderful writer, Rosie Scott. In 2002, with the aid of an ACT Government grant, I gained another three week fellowship at Varuna. The two novels that were partly written at Varuna have not yet found a publisher. However, in my non-fiction book, Creative Lives: personal papers of Australian writers and artists (2009), I was glad to include a chapter on Eleanor Dark. This was one of my favourite chapters to write. I’ve tutored in English Literature, the short story, and Australian Literature, at ANU, and taught Creative Writing at the Centre for Continuing Education, ANU, but I’m mainly a freelance writer and editor. I live in Canberra’s inner north with my family, two cats and three chooks.



Elisabeth Hanscombe Elisabeth has spent four separate weeks at Varuna since 2009. Her first visit fell under the guidance of Peter Bishop, her second with Robin Hemley, her third with Patti Miller and her final week to date in 2014, on her own steam, in the company of other wonderful writers. She’s working on a memoir, an adaptation from her PhD on the topic 'Life writing and the desire for revenge'. Elisabeth has published a number of short stories and essays in the areas of autobiography, psychoanalysis, testimony, trauma and creative non-fiction in Meanjin, Island, Tirra Lirra, Quadrant and Griffith Review as well as in the journals, Life Writing and Life Writing Annual: Biographical and autobiographical studies and in psychotherapy journals and magazines throughout Australia and in the United States. She was short listed for the Australian Book Review’s 2009 Calibre essay prize, longlisted in 2011 and 2014 and has book chapters, ‘Complicated grief endures’ in Stories of Complicated grief: a critical anthology (ed) Eric D Miller, NASW Press, Washington, 2014 and ‘The real psychotherapist in film and television’ in Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television, (eds) Lucy Huskinson and Terrie Waddell, Guilford Press, Routledge, Sussex and New York, 2015. She is winner of the Lane Cove NSW Literary award, memoir section 2014 for ‘A trip to the beach’ and is currently an adjunct research associate at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. She blogs at



Vicki Hastrich Vicki has had an ongoing association with Varuna for about ten years, having spent time there on a fellowship and a mentorship for her first novel, Swimming With The Jellyfish. She later received another fellowship to work on a second novel, The Great Arch, which was published by Allen & Unwin in May 2008.


Nicole HAYES

Nicole Hayes Nicole Hayes is a writer, editor and writing teacher based in Melbourne. Her debut Young Adult novel, The Whole of My World, is about a teenaged girl obsessed with footy, and was published by Random House in June 2013. Her second book, One True Thing, is a YA novel about politics, music, and friendship, and was published in May 2015 (Random House). Nicole has an MA in Creative Writing and has been teaching writing for various organisations around Melbourne, including the University of Melbourne, Australian Writers Centre, and Phoenix Park Neighbourhood House where she runs the Creative Writing program. She is an Ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program, and a founding member of #LoveOzYA. The Whole of My World is a revised version of a manuscript she worked on at a Varuna Hodder Headline manuscript residency in 2003. One True Thing is the winner of the 2015 Children’s Peace Literature Award.



Lucinda Holdforth Lucinda first came to Varuna for week in 2001 as a beneficiary of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development, with Margaret Simons as her mentor. That experience was life-changing, not to mention manuscript-developing, and True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris was eventually published in 2004. Lucinda has been back to Varuna on many occasions as a paying guest and and also received a three week fellowship in 2005/6 to work on her next book, Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilised Behaviour in a Barbarous World, published in 2007 by Random House.

Web: Lucinda's page at Random House


Rebecca HOWDEN

Rebecca Howden Rebecca is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. She is working on her first novel – a work of contemporary adult fiction about a young woman grappling with ideas about love, madness, femininity, beauty and identity – and came to Varuna in 2014 to focus on this project as part of the Publisher Introduction Program. She has written about art, architecture, fashion, design, culture, health and everything in between for a wide range of publications, and her essays and fiction have appeared places like Kill Your Darlings, Crikey and The Sleepers Almanac. Some of her work can be seen on her website.



Linden HYATT

Linden Hyatt Linden has had connections with the house from the first years after Mick Dark’s bequest. He gave a flowering dogwood to the garden in an early stay (which he's never been able to find with any certainty since) and in the early 90s suggested and helped organise the first events in the mountains as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival (as the SWF director at the time), which continue. Has has also had the fortune of fellowships twice, in 2009 and 2011. In more recent years his long ‘pre-career’ as an emerging literary writer, while supporting a young family with work in educational publishing, has only been possible at all through the shelter and support of Varuna.


Arianne JAMES

JAMES ArianneArianne is a writer of fiction and a lover of words, books, long conversations, eavesdropping, music, cats and many other beautiful things in between. In February 2015 and 2016 Arianne spent a week at Varuna. From the moment she walked up that enchanted driveway she fell in love and considers these residencies some of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of her life. Arianne had one of her short stories, The Secret Art of Grieving published in the Hunter Writers Centre 2015 Grieve anthology and recently a collection of micro fiction published in Swinburne University's journal Other Terrian. In August 2016 her short story Prelude to the Dawn was published in Backstory journal. In November 2016 Arianne was awarded a place in the Varuna Short Story Focus week facilitated by Tegan Bennett Daylight, an experience she will never forget. Arianne is currently an intern at The Tasmanian Writers Centre and is studying Psychology and Creative Writing at university. She has also recently become a sub-editor of of Platform Youth Arts and Culture magazine. Arianne dreams of publishing collections of her short stories and a novel (or three) in the not too distant future.


Diana Jenkins Diana is the delighted recipient of a 2016 Varuna PIP Fellowship for her YA manuscript. She is a freelance journalist and produces Varuna's Monthly Feature online. She presented 5x15 at Sydney Theatre at the Sydney Writers' Festival in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with speakers including internationally best-selling authors Kate Mosse and Emma Donoghue; Australian stage and screen star Richard Roxburgh and the ACO’s Lead Violin and Artistic Director Richard Tognetti.

Diana fell in love with all things Varuna at a 2008 Professional Development Residency with long-time Creative Director Peter Bishop. She had to be dragged out the door on the final day and very nearly cried. Her articles have appeared in The Australian, The Weekend Australian, The Australian Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sunday Telegraph, WHO, OUTthere, Is/Not and others and she holds a research PhD in English from UNSW. Her two sons were residents at Varuna in utero – born booklovers, both!

Katherine JOHNSON

JOHNSON KatherineKatherine Johnson's first novel, Pescador’s Wake (Fourth Estate), won a HarperCollins Varuna Award for Manuscript Development. It is set on the Southern Ocean, in South America and Tasmania. Her second, The Better Son, features northern Tasmania’s vast caves and will be published by Ventura Press in October 2016. She is now completing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Tasmania.


Toni Jordan Toni stayed at Varuna with the Awards Masterclass intake of 2006 to work on her first novel, Addition. Peter's faith, the fellowship of her fellow writers and the cosiness of the open fire made her want to stay forever. Addition and her second novel, Fall Girl, have been published in Australia and internationally. She sometimes lectures in Novel in RMIT's Professional Writing and Editing course, but usually sits at home, still in her pajamas, eating Tim Tams, reading other people's blogs and delighting in writing fiction.



Leah Kaminsky Leah Kaminsky, a physician and writer, won the Eleanor Dark Fellowship in 2007 and the Varuna/PanMacMillan Publisher’s fellowship in 2012. She is Poetry & Fiction Editor at the Medical Journal of Australia and Online Editor at Hunger Mountain. The author of several books, she conceived and edited Writer, M.D., an anthology of contemporary doctor-writers (Vintage Knopf US 2012, first issued by Scribe as The Pen and the Stethoscope). Her award-winning poetry collection, Stitching Things Together was published in 2010 (Highly commended IP Picks Prize, commended Anne Elder award).

Leah's work is published or forthcoming in Huffington Post, Creative Nonfiction, Monocle, Antipodes, Griffith Review, r,kv.r.y, Hippocrates Poetry Prize anthology, Poems in the Waiting Room, Up The Staircase, The Ampersand Review, [PANK], Voices, Australian Poetry, Quadrant, The Examined Life, Mattoid, Cordite Poetry Review, Transnational Literature and The Age, amongst others. She was co-editor with Lee Gutkind of Issue #46 of Creative Nonfiction magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in Literature from Deakin University.



Deb Kandelaars My first novel Memoirs of a Suburban Girl was published by Wakefield Press in November 2011. I spent a magical week at Varuna in 2009 polishing this story in Eleanor's studio, sipping wine by the fire, talking to other writers, and being inspired by Peter Bishop. My week at Varuna was an integral part of my journey to publication, and a rare chance to spend real time writing without everyday distractions. Following my time at Varuna, I was shortlisted in the Adelaide Festival awards for an unpublished manuscript; and then came the excitement of publication, my book launch, and even a couple of good reviews. It's been an amazing time. I live in Adelaide with my family, and I have two or three ideas for something new, but I'm still trying to work out what to do next.



KATSONIS MariaMaria is a non-fiction writer from Melbourne. She worked on her debut memoir, The Good Greek Girl (Ventura Press 2015), during her first stay at Varuna. She has since returned for a magical focus week with Peter Bishop where she worked on a non-fiction anthology about rebellious daughters which is she is co-editing (out in August 2016). Maria's writing has also appeared in The Age, The Guardian and New Paradigm.



Elaine Kennedy Elaine Kennedy’s soon to be released book, Waiting for a Wide Horse Sky, is a non-fiction account of privileged ex-pat life and the more serious aspect of exploited unskilled workers from third world countries.

A Varuna residency in 2009 with valuable advice from Varuna’s Peter Bishop provided the motivation for Elaine to complete writing this account of her experiences while teaching in a teacher training institute in South Korea in 1996.

Waiting for a Wide Horse Sky was published by Transit Lounge Publications in September 2011.



Jean Kent Jean Kent was awarded a Retreat Fellowship at Varuna in 2006. Her eight books of poetry include Verandahs, which won the Anne Elder Prize and the Dame Mary Gilmore Award, and The Satin Bowerbird, which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize. In 2011, Jean lived for six months at the Literature Board’s Keesing Studio, Paris, where she completed Travelling with the Wrong Phrasebooks (Pitt Street Poetry, 2012). Poems from her Varuna residency, including the sequence ‘The Broken Engagement’ (Commended in the 2007 Newcastle Poetry Prize), appear in The Hour of Silvered Mullet (PSP, 2015). Jean’s most recent book is Paris in my Pocket (PSP, 2016), a selection of poems with artwork by her husband, Martin. She lives at Lake Macquarie, NSW. Her poems and Jottings can be read on her website.




Paula Keogh Paula is a writer and teacher living in Melbourne. Her introduction to Varuna was in 2015 as a recipient of the inaugural Varuna and Affirm Press Mentorship Award. Paula’s first book, The Green Bell: a memoir of love, madness and poetry was published by Affirm Press in March 2017. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and is currently working on her second book, a novel.

Facebook: Paula Keogh Author.



Vanessa Kirkpatrick Vanessa is a writer and poet. Her first collection of poetry, To Catch the Light, won the inaugural John Knight Memorial Poetry Manuscript Prize and was Commended for the 2013 Anne Elder Award. Her second collection, The Conversation of Trees, was published by Hope Street Press in 2017. Vanessa’s poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas, and has been broadcast on national radio. She lives in the Blue Mountains.



KNIGHT KarenKaren Knight lives in Hobart with her husband, Jules who is a percussionist. She has a daughter and two grandchildren, a cat and a wee bantam hen called Kiki. She has been widely published and anthologised since the early 1960’s. She has written four collections of poetry, her most recent, Postcards from the Asylum (Pardalote Press, 2008) which she wrote the bulk of at Varuna, won the 2005 Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship Award and several other awards.

Karen has been collaborating with printmaker, Michael Schlitz since 2013 responding to each other’s new works of art and poetry, with a limited edition, high end market art book in mind.



KOFMAN Lee 2Lee Kofman is the Israeli-Australian author of the memoir The Dangerous Bride (Melbourne University Press, 2014) and three fiction books, and the co-editor of an anthology of Australian female memoir, Rebellious Daughters (Ventura Press, 2016). Her short fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry have been widely published in Australia, US, UK, Scotland, Israel and Canada. Her writing received numerous awards and her blog about the writing process was a finalist for Best Australian Blogs 2014. Her next two books, creative nonfiction work Imperfect (Affirm Press) and the anthology of essays Split (Ventura Press), will be out in 2019. More at her website.



Kirsten KRAUTH

Kirsten Krauth Kirsten Krauth is a writer and editor based in Castlemaine. Her first novel, just_a_girl, was published to critical acclaim and she is working on her second novel, set in Melbourne’s 8os music scene. She has been commissioning editor of Australian Author, Newswrite and RealTime and written on the arts, literature and film for ABC Arts, the Age, Island, Sydney Morning Herald, Metro Screen, Good Weekend and Empire. When she’s not writing fiction, she blogs at Wild Colonial Girl.

and @KirstenKrauth.


Andrew KWONG

Andrew Kwong "A week of Professional Development in Varuna in June 2010 has illuminated my path to be a good writer. A two-week Varuna Writing Retreat Fellowship in February 2011 has confirmed in me the Varuna magic and her nurturing of emerging writers. I have published several short stories and have just completed a full-length work of non-fiction, Another Kind of Struggle. My day job is a hectic family physician. Writing gives me respite and peace."

Andrew is the author of Snake Business in an anthology, Fear Factor: Terror Incognito by Picador India, December 2009, and Picador Australia, March 2010, of Rose Petal Path, in an anthology, Alien Shores, by Brass Monkey Books, Hunter Publishers 2012. He has also published over 20 short stories in Medical Observer.

Among Andrew's writing awards are: Winner of The AMA Writing Competition 2014, Highly commended and finalist The AMA Writing Competition 2009, Varuna Publishers Award 2013 for Snake Business, Varuna Byron Bay Writers Festival Unpublished Manuscript Competition Finalist 2013, Varuna NSW Arts Council Writing Fellowship 2013, and Varuna Writing Fellowship 2011.



Peter Lach-Newinsky Peter was awarded a Varuna residency under the Litlink program in 2008 and enjoyed doing some pruning on Eleanor Dark’s beautiful old pear tree. In 2009 he won a Varuna-Picaro Publisher Award and, as a result, Picaro Press in 2010 published his first full-length poetry collection The Post-Man Letters & Other Poems. Picaro also published his first chapbook The Knee Monologues & Other Poems in 2009. Peter won the Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize in both 2009 and 2010 and was runner-up in 2008. In 2010 he was shortlisted in the Newcastle Poetry Prize. He also manages a 20-acre permaculture farm near Bundanoon NSW.



Hayley Lawrence Hayley Lawrence was a lawyer in the heart of Sydney before trading city life for the coast when she married a pilot. Hayley now writes Young Adult fiction surrounded by the mayhem of her five vivacious little ladies.

Inside the Tiger was inspired by the five years Hayley spent writing to and visiting a death row prisoner in Thailand. It was an experience that highlighted to her the harrowing realities of prisoners, especially those awaiting execution. In 2016, Inside the Tiger won a Litlink Fellowship at Varuna, The Writer’s Centre. In 2017, Inside the Tiger also won a PIP Fellowship at Varuna and was a finalist for the Vogel Prize, run by Allen and Unwin in conjunction with The Australian.

Inside the Tiger is currently under consideration by publishers.


Suzanne LEAL

Suzanne Leal Suzanne first came to Varuna in 2003 as a part of a manuscript development award and follow-on fellowship under the mentorship of Meg Simons. Her manuscript became Border Street, which was published by Scribe and later released as an audio book. Her second novel, The Teacher’s Secret, is published by Allen & Unwin. Suzanne is an experienced interviewer and facilitator at literary functions and events.


Isabelle LI

Isabelle Li Isabelle Li grew up in China, worked in Singapore and migrated to Australia in 1999. Her short stories have appeared in The Best Australian Stories, Southerly, Sleepers Almanac, UTS Writers' Anthology, New Australian Stories, and Cha. ‘Red Saffron’ was highly commended in the Margaret River Short Story Competition 2014 and included in the collection. Her script MOONCAKE AND CRAB was made into a short film and premiered at the Melbourne Film Festival. Isabelle is a recipient of 2014 Varuna Fellowship. Having completed the manuscript for a collection of short stories, A Chinese Affair, she is now working on a novel.



Eleanor Limprecht Eleanor Limprecht’s first novel, What Was Left, came out in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. Born in the US and raised in Germany, Pakistan and the US, she now lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. She also writes book reviews, feature articles, short fiction, essays and poetry, and is completing a Doctorate of Creative Arts at UTS. Her second novel, Long Bay, about a young female abortionist who was convicted of manslaughter in 1909 and spent time in Long Bay Gaol, will be out in September 2015.



Bronwen LOGAN

Bronwen Logan Bronwen has written a number of non-fiction books and received a Varuna LitLink Fellowship in 2012 for a speculative fiction novel that she continues to explore. In the meantime, Bronwen is writing plays, short stories and anything else that comes her way. She shares her days with her daughter and lots of other animals on five acres in the Blue Mountains and is co-founder of the International House of Reiki and founder of Fundraise for Animals.



Bronwyn Lovell

Bronwyn Lovell Bronwyn Lovell is a Melbourne-based poet. Her poetry has appeared in national and international publications, including Best Australian Poems, Award Winning Australian Writing and the Global Poetry Anthology. She has won the Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize and been shortlisted for the Newcastle, Bridport, and Montreal prizes. She is currently writing a science fiction verse novel.




Katherine Lyall-Watson Katherine is the co-artistic director of Belloo Creative and an award-winning playwright. Her play Motherland won numerous awards for its premiere season in 2013 and toured Australia in 2016 commencing with a season at Queensland Theatre Company. Katherine’s play HANAKO premiered at the Brisbane Festival in 2016 and was nominated for five industry awards. She has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Queensland and has had her work read at the National Play Festival. Katherine regularly mentors young and emerging writers. She is the current chair of Playlab and was an Associate Artist at Queensland Theatre Company in 2015.




Joanne McCarron Joanne’s first contact with Varuna came when Peter Bishop gave a talk about Varuna at the ACT Writer’s Centre Scribble Writers Festival in 2008. Peter subsequently assessed the manuscript for her first children’s novel Silvery Elms, The Singing Stone in 2010 which she says drew to her attention qualities about herself as a writer that have influenced her ever since. Later Joanne attended the Writing for Stage and Screen Masterclass with Katherine Thomson in 2009. Her first historical fiction novel A Harp of Truest Tone was completed in 2013. Silvery Elms, The Singing Stone (2014) her first children's fairy tale and the sequel Silvery Elms, The Kaleidoscope (2015) are available on the ASA website. Joanne has illustrated both stories. The latter was developed and completed after attending the Writers Who Are Friends, Writers Who Are Hauntings and A Conversation Between Writers residencies with Peter Bishop in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Joanne is currently completing her fourth novel Coventina’s Well as part of a creative writing PhD.



MCCREERY SusanSusan was awarded a Varuna PIP Fellowship in 2014 for her short story collection This Person Is Not That Person, for which she also received an ASA mentorship. Waiting for the Southerly (Ginninderra Press, 2012) was Commended in the Anne Elder Award for a first book of poetry. Her work has appeared in Sleepers Almanac, Island, Award Winning Australian Writing, Best Australian Poems 2009 (Black Inc.), Hecate, Going Down Swinging, Seizure Online, Margaret River Press anthologies and Spineless Wonders anthologies, among others. Many of her stories have been read at Little Fictions, Sydney. Loopholes, a collection of microfiction, will be published by Spineless Wonders in December 2016. Susan works as a proofreader/copy editor and lives in Thirroul, NSW.



Siobhan McHUGH

Siobhan McHugh Irish-born Siobhán McHugh has written five books of social history, children’s historical fiction, a memoir and radio and television documentaries. The Snowy, about the migrants who built the Snowy Mountains Scheme, won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, while Cottoning On, about the cotton industry, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Awards. Minefields and Miniskirts, about Australian women and the Vietnam war, has been adapted for the stage. If she can ever get back to Varuna, Siobhán hopes to adapt The Diary of Eva Fischer, about a girl growing up on the Snowy Scheme, for TV. Meanwhile she is researching the hoary topic of Catholic/ Protestant sectarianism for a Doctorate in Creative Arts.



Meg McKinlay Meg came to Varuna in 2003 for a Residential Masterclass and every year since has made 'absolutely definitely this year without fail' plans to return. While life conspires to keep her away, she makes do with a photograph on her desk of Varuna's delightful admonition, 'Please Do Not Disturb the Writers'. It was at Varuna that she first began to believe that 'writers' was a group that might legitimately include her. She is a Fremantle-based poet and children's writer. Her children's writing ranges from picture books through to novels for upper primary and her debut poetry collection, Cleanskin, came out in 2007. In 2010, she was awarded an Asialink Literature Residency to Japan to work on a novel for adults.



Carol Major Carol has written on health and other social policy issues since the 1980s. She was among the founding editors of Connexions, an Australian journal exploring social policy in relation to alcohol and other drugs. Later she developed and implemented campaigns on child safety for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She was awarded the Lady Derham Scholarship for her contribution. Carol completed two novels while working toward a Doctorate of Arts degree in creative writing at the University of Technology. Her areas of interest include ‘place versus location’ and ‘the uses of fiction in demonstrating motivation’. Carol’s short stories and essays have appeared in Australian and Canadian literary journals and anthologies. She is the author of Closed Adoption Policy in the 1960s: Exploring the Construction of Motive Through Fiction.



MARIKO PamPamela Mariko grew up near UK’s bleak Moors, where Red Moon: secrets of a sixties schoolgirl, (formerly Red Moon Rising), is set. She’s a 2011 semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award and gained five star reviews from Amazon panel editors and Publishers Weekly. In 2010 she won the Olvar Woods Fellowship Award, and in 2008 the Varuna Longlines. Besides this book, Pam also writes women’s fiction. A former freelance travel and property writer, she is now driven to follow her heart and concentrate on novels. Pam lives on Australia’s Sunshine Coast and enjoys spending time with her partner, good friends and her cat.



MICHAU CRAWFORD MichelleMichelle Michau-Crawford is based in Perth, Western Australia. Her fiction has been published in magazines and journals such as Westerly, Australian Book Review and Spiny Babbler. She has been an alumni member since 2012. In 2013 she won the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.
She has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. When not writing she occasionally teaches in creative writing and literature in both university and community classes. She’s also worked as a speechwriter, researcher and public relations officer.

Her debut collection Leaving Elvis and other stories (Feb 2016) is published by UWA Publishing.





Caroline MILEY

MILEY CarolineCaroline was born in Europe and emigrated to Australia as a child. She has been writing ever since, although her ambition to write novels had to go on hold during a career as an art historian, during which she published articles and books on art and craft. In 2002 the polemical The Suicidal Church was published by Pluto Press. History, literature, nature and art have been longstanding passions and Caroline wholeheartedly endorses Hartley’s aphorism: ‘The past is another country. They do things differently there.’ It was reading Jane Austen that drew her attention to the Georgian era, whose fascination is that it stands on the boundary between the old and the modern worlds, a time of limitless possibilities and energy that we seem to have lost. Her debut novel The Competition, set in the art and industrial worlds of 1812, won a Varuna PIP Fellowship in 2015 and she fell in love with Varuna, the house and the garden. The Competition is due for release in November 2016.





Patti MillerPatti Miller is the author of eight books, four launched at Varuna: the best-selling Writing Your Life, The Last One Who Remembers, Child and The Memoir Book, A&U; Whatever the Gods Do, Random House; the award-winning The Mind of a Thief - a VCE text - and Ransacking Paris, both published by UQP; and in 2017, Writing True Stories. She is also published in collections, Some Girls Do, A&U and Reading The Landscape UQP. Many of her articles and personal essays are published in newspapers and literary magazines around the country. She began 'Life Stories Workshops' at Varuna in 1991 and now teaches memoir courses around Australia and in Paris and London. More than 45 of writers she has mentored have been commercially published. 




Peter Mitchell Peter Mitchell is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press, 2009). A longtime resident of the Rainbow Region (NSW), he works across genres, writing poetry, short stories, memoir, literary criticism and a range of journalism. His writing has been and is published in international and national journals, magazines and anthologies. In April/May 2014, he fulfilled the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship (Varuna Writers' Centre), working on his project, Fragments of the Lurgi: A Mosaic. Recently, he was awarded an Artist with Disability grant (Australia Council of the Arts).



Meg Mooney Meg Mooney is a natural scientist who has lived in central Australia since 1987, working with remote Aboriginal communities for most of that time. Meg is launching her latest poetry book, Being Martha’s Friend, Ginninderra Press, at the NT Writers Eye of the Storm festival in Alice Springs in 2015. Meg’s other books are For the dry country: writing and drawings from the Centre, a collaboration with artist Sally Mumford, Ptilotus Press, 2005; and The Gap, co-winner of The Picaro Poetry Prize in 2010. Meg is currently working on a book, mainly prose, on the geology of central Australia. The masterclasses and fellowship she has had at Varuna have made all the difference.



Ann Moyal Dr Ann Moyal is a historian of Australian science with many publications behind her. These include Alan Moorehead. A rediscovery (2005), a work on which she received a Varuna fellowship in 2003; Platypus: The Extraordinary Story of How a Curious Creature Baffled the World (2001); A Bright and Savage Land. Scientists in Colonial Australia (1986); Clear Across Australia: A history of telecommunications (1984); and her autobiography, Breakfast with Beaverbrook (1995). Ann is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and received her AM in the order of Australia and her Doctorate of Letters from the ANU (2003) for her publications and contributions to the history of Australian science.



Peta Murray Peta Murray is a professional writer of plays and short stories, a dramaturge and teacher. She is currently co-facilitator of The Black Writers Lab at Ilbijerri Theatre, Melbourne.

Her best-known play, Wallflowering has seen numerous productions in Australia and overseas. Other plays include AWGIE winners Spitting Chips and The Keys to the Animal Room, and Salt which won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Drama. She is currently completing a new work, Things That Fall Over.

Peta’s stories have been published in anthologies, including Sleepers Almanac and New Australian Stories.

Peta is co-founder and Creative Consultant of The GroundSwell Project.



Eileen Naseby Eileen has visited Varuna since 1995 both as paying guest and as the recipient of two Varuna fellowships. She found the support of the director, staff and other writers at Varuna invaluable. During her stays at Varuna she has worked on two novels and a biography. The biography of her mother, Ursula, was published in October 2006.



NELSON Alice2Alice Nelson was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Novelists for her first novel, The Last Sky. Alice's short fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in publications such as The Sydney Review of Books, The Asia Literary Review, Southerly Magazine and the West Australian Newspaper. Her second novel, The Children's House, will be published by Penguin Random House in October 2018. Alice's first fellowship at Varuna was in 2004 and she has returned many times over the years. A great deal of her new novel was written while on residency at Varuna.



NIEHAUS AmandaAmanda was a recipient of a 2017 Varuna Residential Fellowship to work on her first novel, Breeding Season. She's a scientist as well as a writer and weaves her experiences in the lab and field--as well as basic concepts in ecology, evolution, and physiology--into her fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Amanda was a 2016 mentee in the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program and a finalist for the New Philosopher Writers' Prize (VI). Recent work appears or is forthcoming in AGNI, Noon Annual, Monkeybicycle, Creative Nonfiction and elsewhere. Amanda lives in Brisbane, QLD, and Phoenix, AZ.


Twitter: @amandacniehaus
Facebook: acniehaus
Instagram: @amandacniehaus


Bernadette O'CONNELL

Bernadette O'Connell Bernadette first came to Varuna in 2001 for a development forum with Charlotte Wood. She was then fortunate to have Charlotte as a mentor and the completed novel was selected for the editorial program with Judith Lukin-Amunsden in 2002. (Doubly blessed.) Her experiences at Varuna were significant in her understanding of the writing process and in seeing herself as a writer. This novel is now being sent to publishers. She has recently started writing full–time, and is working on her next novel.


Marie Rose O'CONNOR

Mary Rose O'Connor Mary Rose is a retired librarian and ex-restaurateur who has twice recovered from cancer and now spends much of her time writing. Her novel manuscript was longlisted for the Varuna HarperCollins awards in 2005. Mary Rose says: "Thanks to the encouragement of Peter Bishop, I have not given up on the idea of a book. My original MSS has turned into a possible three books and I have, after a long period of wondering which one to concentrate on, started to revise the second one. I am now doing what I hope may be a draft with some potential, and I intend to apply for a Longlines Fellowship next year."



Mark O'Flynn Mark O’Flynn has been involved with Varuna almost from the beginning. He once won a week's residency as a prize for the First Page of a Novel competition, an enduring monograph of one page. He has since stayed as part of the HarperCollins manuscript award, and he has also served on the Board of Directors. His work includes plays, Paterson’s Curse (1998) and Eleanor & Eve (2003); a novella, Captain Cook, (1987); two books of poetry, The Too Bright Sun, (1996) and The Good Oil (2000). Grassdogs, a novel, was published by HarperCollins in 2006.

Web: Mark's page at HarperCollins



OHALLORAN AlecAlec's experience as a Publisher Introduction Program recipient at Varuna spurred him on, turning a thesis into a book - a daunting task! He aims to publish a biography of the award-winning Papunya Tula artist, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, in 2018. The research and writing process for this project has gone on for years... it seems that biography is not something to be rushed. The most rewarding aspects of the process included travel to Western Desert communities, meeting with the artist's relatives, and receiving wonderful support from Papunya Tula's staff. Namarari worked as an artist from 1971 to 1998 across several desert communities to the west of Alice Springs. Alec is particularly interested in artist's biographies (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and is a member of the NSW Writers' Centre.




Paddy O'Reilly Paddy O′Reilly is a writer from Melbourne. Her work has been published and broadcast widely both here and internationally. The Wonders, her most recent novel, was published in 2014 in Australia and 2015 in the USA. The Fine Colour of Rust was published in Australia, the UK and the USA and was shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Her collection of award-winning stories, The End of the World, garnered much review coverage in Australia and was shortlisted for several awards. Her debut novel, The Factory, was broadcast in fifteen episodes as the ABC Radio National Book Reading in 2009.


Frances OLIVE

Frances Olive Frances Olive writes poetry, short stories, and something in between. Her writing has been recognised in various literary competitions, including the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the Alan Marshall Short Story Award and the Varuna Fellowship program. Frances completed her doctoral studies in philosophy at the University of Sydney. She lives in Sydney, Australia.


Madeline OLIVER

OLIVER MadelineMadeline writes fiction and non-fiction books and short pieces, teaches writing and facilitates at writers’ festivals. In 2014 her YA novel was shortlisted for the Varuna PIP program, and in 2016 it was accepted, leading to an inspiring week of fellowship with other writers and powerful professional development, confirming Madeline’s intuition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Painted Sky, a novel of commercial women’s fiction that she wrote in collaboration with four others, was published by Random House in 2015. Currently Madeline is working on two book-length memoirs of her own, ghostwriting memoir commercially, writing short essays and hoping to extend her teaching practice and other forms of collaborative writing.


Kristina OLSSON

Kristina Olsson Kristina studied journalism at the University of Queensland, and went on to work for The Australian, The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail, the Sydney Sunday Telegraph and Griffith Review. UQP published her first novel, In One Skin, in 2001. This was followed by Kilroy Was Here (Random) in 2005. Kristina is delighted to be back with UQP for The China Garden (March 2009). She is currently writing a family memoir, tentatively titled Invisible Child – A Memoir. An extract of the memoir appeared in Griffith Review – Hidden Queensland in August 2008. Kristina and her partner, Tony, have five children and two grandchildren and live in Brisbane.


Catherine PADMORE

Catherine PAdmore Catherine Padmore was awarded her PhD in creative writing in 2002, and she has taught literary studies and creative writing at La Trobe since 2005. Her first novel, Sibyl’s Cave (Allen and Unwin, 2004) was shortlisted for The Australian/Vogel Award and commended in the first book category of The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (south-east Asia and south Pacific region). Catherine has been awarded two retreat fellowships at Varuna and in 2014 she was short-listed for the Publisher Introduction Program. She has novels-in-progress about Amy Dudley and Levina Teerlinc.


Helena Pastor Helena, a Dutch-Australian writer, has had a number of short stories and essays published in various Australian journals including Griffith REVIEW, Westerly, Island, HecateVerity La. Through her work as an emerging writer of creative nonfiction, she interweaves the personal with the topical to produce humane, reader-friendly accounts of life in our community. Her two memoir manuscripts have attracted numerous awards, most notably two Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Mentorships, five residencies at Varuna Writers’ House (including a 2010 HarperCollins Varuna Award), and two Artist-in-Residence positions at Bundanon. Helena blogs about the writing process at



Tess Pearson Tess lives in Sydney and writes fiction and non-fiction, and is also interested in the therapeutic capacity of writing and other narrative-based processes. She has studied fine arts, play and play-work, psychology, and graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from UTS in 2013. Tess had the good fortune to receive a Varuna residential fellowship in 2014 to work on a novel-in-progress. She savoured the creative sanctuary, clear headspace, and community of supportive staff and other writers she found there. She already longs to return some day.



Ailsa Piper Ailsa Piper has worked as a writer, theatre director, teacher actor, radio broadcaster and speaker.

She was co-winner of the inaugural Patrick White Playwright’s Award for her theatre script Small Mercies.

2012 saw the fruition of several projects: her episode of ABC Radio’s Poetica; Bell Shakespeare’s production of an adaptation of Duchess of Malfi, co-written by Ailsa, and the publication of her first book, Sinning Across Spain.

She is currently working on two books - one a hybrid of memoir and fiction, the other co-written with Tony Doherty, a Catholic priest. Ailsa is a passionate – some would say obsessive – walker.


Christine PIPER

Christine Piper Christine Piper's debut novel, After Darkness (Allen & Unwin 2014), won the 2014 The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2015 Miles Franklin award, the Dobbie Literary Award, the Indie Book Awards and the Readings New Australian Writing Award. She wrote the book as part of her doctoral degree at the University of Technology, Sydney, and worked on the manuscript while staying at Varuna 2012. Her short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found in Trees and Other Stories (Margaret River Press 2012). She was the 2013 Alice Hayes Writing Fellow at Ragdale in the United States. She has also been widely published as a journalist, and won the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, and the 2014 Guy Morrison Prize for student literary journalism. Born in South Korea to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, and then raised in Australia, Christine is interested in the immigrant experience and other social justice themes.



Sally Piper Sally is a former nurse and lived in the UK for nine years before returning to Brisbane to complete a Postgraduate Diploma and Masters’ Degree in Creative Writing at QUT, where she was supervised by Kristina Olsson. Sally was the recipient of a Varuna Publishing Fellowship in 2013 and UQP published her debut novel Grace's Table in 2014. She had a story selected in the first One Book Many Brisbanes anthology in 2006. She has had short stories, poetry and non-fiction articles published in Australia and the UK, appearing online and in writing journals, literary magazines and The Weekend Australian. She currently lives in Brisbane with her husband and two sons.



Lou Pollard Lou Pollard is a comedian who spent a week at Varuna in 2012 writing comedy with Tim Ferguson (DAAS). She has written three solo shows and a children’s comedy show (with her 8 year old daughter). Her short stories have been published in anthologies and her letter to Peter Greste was published in Prison post (Editia 2015). She is currently writing a book. Lou lives in Sydney.


Tamara PRATT

Tamara Pratt Tamara is an author of short stories, and has a number of credits to her name. She currently has several novels in draft, two of which are thriller / crime, and the other two young adult. She particularly likes to create story settings in Brisbane and throughout Australia. Tamara was at Varuna at a 2011 Professional Development Residency for Crime Week with Marele Day. Tamara resides in Brisbane with her husband and three children.


Chris RAJA

RAJA ChrisChristopher Raja migrated from Kolkata to Melbourne in 1986. He has lived and worked in Alice Springs since 2004. His writings (short stories and essays) have appeared in numerous publications. His co-authored play – The First Garden – was performed in botanical gardens around Australia and published by Currency Press in 2012. His debut novel – The Burning Elephant (published by Giramondo, 2015) was written under a New Work grant awarded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He has been twice shortlisted for the Northern Territory Writers Centre's Chief Minister's Book of the Year award.




Jane Rawson Jane Rawson has written two novels, both published by Transit Lounge: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, which won the Small Press Network's 2014 'Most Underrated Book' Award, and From the Wreck (2017). She has also written a novella, Formaldehyde (2015: Seizure) and a non-fiction guide (with the help of a Varuna fellowship), The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change (2015: Transit Lounge). She lives in Melbourne's inner west and blogs at



REYNOLDS SueI live in the beautiful northern rivers area of NSW on fifteen acres beside a national park. In 2008 my manuscript ‘Temporary Spaces’ was shortlisted for the Northern Rivers Writers Centre mentorship,and long listed for the Queensland Writers Centre/Hachette Publishers Manuscript Development Program. In 2014 my second manuscript ‘Clay Wife’ was awarded a Litlink two week residency with Varuna, and the NRWC Mentorship residency. In 2015 my story ‘Colours on Canvas’ was short listed in the Allan Marshall Short Story Awards and was shortlisted for the Legend Press Luke Bitmead Bursary. I have had short stories and poems published in anthologies and have unpublished children’s fiction stories and nonfiction manuscripts on counselling, children’s therapeutic fiction stories and anger management.



Jo RICCIONI Jo Riccioni first visited Varuna after being offered a place on the inaugural Short Story Masterclass in 2010. She conspired to get back as soon as possible and scored a Fellowship Retreat in 2011 to work on her debut novel there. The Italians at Cleat’s Corner Store, was signed by Scribe while Jo was a student at the first Sydney Faber Academy, tutored by James Bradley and Kathryn Heyman. Her short stories have also been published in The Age, Best Australian Stories 2010 and 2011, and in anthologies in the US and UK. Her story, Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy, has been optioned for a short film. She can be contacted at her website or via her Facebook page.


Deborah RICE

Deborah RiceDeborah Rice is a Communications Strategist who helps organisations engage with the public and media. For 30 years she was a multi-platform journalist, becoming one of the ABC's most versatile Senior News Reporters and Presenters. She holds an MA Writing from UTS. The first piece she wrote while at UTS, 'Foil', won the University of Canberra Short Story Competition (Tertiary) in 2001. Since then, Deborah has been working on three novels – a tale of political intrigue set in Australia in the dying days of the Cold War, a comedy of modern manners and a work of feminist crime fiction. She is also writing a major work of non-fiction. Deborah's writing is a creative response to her experiences as a journalist, chronicling the stories of people across Australia.




Betsy Roberts Betsy Roberts grew up and spent most of her working life (in public libraries) on the Far North Coast of NSW. After leaving full-time work in 1998 she enrolled in the James Cook University Creative Writing Course and has subsequently had stories published in Vacations & Travel Magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly and the Prana Writers’ Gold Coast Anthology, “Undertow”. With the help of Peter Bishop and a LitLink Fellowship in 2006, the manuscript for “Summer Feet” was developed, and this was published as a first novel in December 2016 by Malua Publishing. She is currently working towards a short story collection.


Andrew ROFF

ROFF AndrewAndrew Roff is the winner of the 2018 Margaret River Press Short Story Competition. His work has appeared in Overland and Antithesis Journal, among others, and his first novel-length manuscript was shortlisted for the Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award at the 2016 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. In March 2018 he undertook a residential fellowship at Varuna House to work on his first short story collection. He tweets at @roffwrites.




Aden Rolfe Aden Rolfe is a writer and editor whose practice includes poetry, performance writing and criticism. He’s had poems published in the Age, Best Australian Poems 2011 and Best Australian Poetry 2009, and was featured in Overland’s Emerging Poets Series in 2012. His first collection, False Nostalgia, recently published by Giramondo, was developed with the support of the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship for Poetry from Varuna in 2013.
Aden’s had radioplays and sound collages broadcast on ABC Radio National and is a previous recipient of Sydney Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights’ Award. He works professionally as a copywriter and editor in the arts, publishing and corporate sectors.


Heather ROSE

ROSE Heather Heather Rose is the author of 7 novels: White Heart (1999), The Butterfly Man (2006) The River Wife (2009), The Museum of Modern Love (2016). Heather writes for children with author Danielle Wood under the pen-name Angelica Banks. Their novels are Finding Serendipity (2013), A Week Without Tuesday (2015) and Blueberry Pancakes Forever (2016). Heather first came to Varuna as the recipient of the international Eleanor Dark fellowship in 2006 for The River Wife. Heather has been longlisted and shortlisted for several prizes and won the Davitt Award in 2006. In 2017 she is shortlisted for The Stella Prize and the Australian Literary Society medal. Both the children's series and The Museum of Modern Love are published internationally. Heather lives by the sea in Tasmania.




Kate Ryan Kate Ryan writes fiction and non-fiction and works as an editor, manuscript assessor, writing mentor and teacher. Her work has appeared in publications including New Australian Writing 2, The Sleepers Almanac, Kill Your Darlings, the Griffith Review, TEXT and Best Australian Stories (2016). Her picture books have been published by Penguin and Lothian. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Award, the Boroondara Literary Awards and the Elizabeth Jolley Prize and her essay Some Thoughts on Life Drawing longlisted for the 2017 Calibre Prize. Psychotherapy for Normal People won the Writers’ Prize in the Melbourne Prize for Literature (2015).




Brenda SAUNDERS Brenda is a Sydney artist and poet of Aboriginal and British descent. During her stay as the Dorothy Hewitt Flagship Poetry Fellow in 2012, she produced a chapbook Firestick supported by Varuna and their Resident Poet Deb Westbury. She has since published two poetry collections, her most recent the sound of red (Ginninderra Press 2013). Brenda has also featured in selected anthologies and poetry journals such as AP Journals, Overland and (Black Inc). She is an active member of DiVerse Poets who write and perform their ekphrastic poetry at various Sydney art galleries.

In 2012 Brenda was a featured poet at ‘Poetry in the Caves’ at Jenolan Caves, a Varuna and Sydney Writers Festival event, and last year was a Resident Fellow at CAMAC Arts Centre in France, where she worked translating her poetry into French. Brenda recently won the 2014 Scanlon Poetry Prize for Indigenous Poetry for her collection Looking for Bullin Bullin.


Stephen Scheding Stephen Scheding lives in Sydney. He graduated in Arts in English and Psychology (UNSW) and has worked as a teacher and psychologist as well as a cartoonist and illustrator. He has written and illustrated three children's books: Uncle Mick's Magic Trick (for getting rid of monsters); Ten Thousand Sheep (get driven home) and King Gilbert (The Indolent) - all published by Scholastic. His first narrative non-fiction book, A Small Unsigned Painting, was published in 1998 (Vintage, Random House) and he has since had two Varuna fellowships to assist with his art mysteries: The National Picture (published in 2002, Vintage, Random House) and A Painting Found on a Footpath (current project). He is now tragically addicted to collecting printed material relating to Australian visual artists.



Jennifer Scoullar Jennifer’s first visit to Varuna was for a professional development residency with the inimitable Peter Bishop in 2008. She returned as a regional writer in residence during the 2009 LongLines week, and has been shortlisted for both the Harper Collins Manuscript Development Program and the Varuna Publisher Fellowships. In 2011 she was the lucky winner of the Tyrone Guthrie Residency. Her first novel, Wasp Season, is an environmental thriller and was launched at the 2008 Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Brumby’s Run, her new rural novel, was released by Penguin in July 2012.


Katherine SEPPINGS

SEPPINGS Katherine2Katherine E. Seppings, poet, artist, writer, photographer, editor, has worked in publishing in Australia, London and New York. Her writing appears in poetry journals, anthologies, educational documentaries, newspapers and non-fiction books. Her first book Fireplaces for a Beautiful Home was published in London and New York (1989, 1990, 1993, 1997). She has received awards for her short stories and poetry including Poetry Matters 6th Annual Competition. She was an Australian Poetry Café Poet in Castlemaine (2012). When Embers Dance, her first collection, was published by Melbourne Poets Union (2015).

In 2008, Katherine was awarded a Macquarie–Longlines Varuna Residency to work on a memoir and has been shortlisted for a Varuna Publisher Fellowship.



Edwina SHAW

Edwina Shaw

Edwina Shaw is a Brisbane writer of fiction and memoir. She first came to Varuna in January 2014 on a second book fellowship to work on “Dear Madman”. Her first book Thrill Seekers> was released in 2012. It was shortlisted for the 2012 NSW Premier’s UTS/Glenda Adam’s Award for New Writing. Her second novel ms., “Child of Fortune,” based on her experiences working in Cambodia, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon/Penguin US Breakthrough Novel Award. Several of her short stories have been published in Australian and international journals. She lives in Brisbane with her family and two fat chooks.



Leni Shilton

Leni is a writer of poetry and prose. She has published in anthologies, journals and broadcast on radio. She was a recipient of a Longlines Fellowship in 2005 and was awarded the Dorothy Hewett Fellowship for poetry in 2008. She is currently teaching Creative Writing at Batchelor Institute in Alice Springs, growing up four children and writing a verse novel. Her times at Varuna have been treasured moments of bliss.



Laura Shore Born in the UK, raised in the US, immigrated to Australia in 1996, Laura Jan Shore is the author of Breathworks (Dangerously Poetic Press), Water over Stone (Interactive Press), winner of IP Picks Best Poetry 2011, and just completed, A Canticle of Crows. Her poetry's appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in the US, Italy, India, Macao, New Zealand and Australia. She's won the 2012 Martha Richardson Poetry Prize, 2009 FAW John Shaw Nielson Award, and the 2006 CJ Dennis Open Poetry Literary Award. President of Dangerously Poetic Press, she has co-edited 9 books and facilitated poetry readings since 2001.


Angela SMITH

Angela Smith Angela Smith’s essays and poetry have been published widely. Among other places, her work has appeared in The Australian, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, New Philosopher, Overland and The Best Australian Poems 2015 (Black Inc.). Her poetry collection, The Geometry of Flight, was published in 2010.

Angela has been a featured writer at the Wheeler Centre, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and the Overload Poetry Festival. She has been the recipient of three Residencies at Varuna including a Varuna Second Book Fellowship.



Mark Smith Mark Smith lives on Victoria’s Surf Coast. Following the success of his debut novel, The Road To Winter, his second novel, Wilder Country, won the 2018 Australian Indie Book Award for YA. The Road To Winter is currently taught in schools around Australia. Both books are published in the US and UK. Mark is also an award winning writer of short fiction, with credits including the 2015 Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize and the 2013 Alan Marshall Short Story Prize, and his work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Review of Australian Fiction, The Big Issue, The Victorian Writer and The Australian.


Nicole SMITH

Nicole Smith Nicole was first published when she was twelve in the Courier Mail for a science fiction short story called Just Another Day In Space. Since then she has realised that there are no days in space. More recently her book Sideshow won the 2014 Viva la Novella Prize and has been published with Seizure. Nicole was awarded a Varuna Fellowship to finish Sideshow which was subsequently shortlisted in the top five of Writing Australia’s Unpublished Manuscript Awards. Her play, Local Hero premiered at La Mama and is listed on the Australian Script Centre website. Her poem, Others, was published in Visible Ink's Tattletales. The short story Seoul is part of the Little Raven 3rd edition anthology. She has enjoyed two Hothouse Theatre’s A Month in the Country residencies to write new work. Nicole toured for a decade with the aerial dance company Strange Fruit and worked with numerous companies including Circus Oz, Queensland Theatre Company and Dancehouse.


Elizabeth SMYTH

SMYTH ElizabethElizabeth is a Cairns writer and adjunct research fellow of James Cook University. She has visited Varuna many times and learned a great deal from Varuna's dedicated and gifted writing consultants. Her short stories have been published in Meanjin and a Tropical Writers anthology, and long-listed for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. She is a recipient of a 2016 Varuna Residential Fellowship, and her first novel manuscript was shortlisted for the 2017 Varuna Publisher Introduction Program.





Lisa Southgate Lisa Southgate writes creative nonfiction, memoir and plays. She has also written fantasy fiction and worked as a print journalist. In October 2015 her short memoir Boothville, about having a baby in a hostel for unmarried mothers, was published by US Publisher In Fact Books in its new anthology, Oh Baby! In 2009 Lisa's unpublished memoir Pie Street won a Varuna Publisher Fellowship, and in 2014 it was short-listed for the Finch Memoir Prize. Lisa is also a One Book Many Brisbanes winner, and a lover of manual typewriters.



David Spitzkowsky David Spitzkowsky lives in Melbourne, still deeply inspired by the triumvirate Patti, Joni and Laurie (Smith, Mitchell and Anderson). A novel, short stories and some non-fiction currently occupy his mind. He is undertaking the Professional Writing and Editing Diploma at RMIT and visited Varuna on a Writing Retreat Fellowship in early 2011, returning later that very year for more words and contemplation. His work has appeared in Victorian Writer, Page 17, Visible Ink and 21D.


Laurie STEED

STEED Laurie2Laurie Steed is an author, editor, mentor, and manuscript assessor from Perth, Western Australia. His fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Award Winning Australian Writing, The Age, Meanjin, Westerly, Island, and elsewhere.

He is the recipient of fellowships from The University of Iowa, The Baltic Writing Residency, The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, The Katharine Susannah Prichard Foundation and The Fellowship of Writers (Western Australia). His debut novel, You Belong Here, was published in March 2018 to critical acclaim.



Alison Stewart Alison’s memoir, Cold Stone Soup was a runner-up in the 2010 Penguin Varuna Scholarship and has been named the winner of the FAW 2013 National Literary Awards’ Jim Hamilton Award for a non-fiction manuscript. Alison, who is also a journalist, has written two novels for adults and seven for young adults and children. Her latest YA novel, Days Like This Penguin) was runner-up in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Alison’s first novel, Born Into The Country was shortlisted for a South African young writers’ award and her young adult book, The Wishing Moon was shortlisted for the 1995 Australian Multicultural Children’s Award and was a Children’s Book Council Notable Book. Alison also writes travel features for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.


Gabrielle STROUD

Gabrielle Stroud Gabbie is a frustrated writer, juggling the demands of work and mothering whilst trying to silence that inner voice that keeps nagging her to write! Varuna is the safe-haven she longs for, where writing can take priority. Her first visit was in 2005 as part of the Young and Emerging Writers Masterclass and she had the privilege of returning again on the Pathways To Publication Program in 2008. As a result of that program, Measuring Up, a novel for YA was published by Scribe in 2009. This was a dream come true for Gabbie who wrote her first novel on the telephone note pad when she was six-years-old! Her most recent stay at Varuna was in 2013 for the Fellowship scholarship and she longs to return again soon…
Facebook: G J Stroud
Twitter: G J Stroud



Jane Sullivan Jane is a Melbourne writer specialising in literary journalism. She writes a weekly column, Turning Pages, for The Age and also contributes features on books and writing. Her first novel, The White Star, was published by Penguin in 2000, and the manuscript of her latest novel, Little People, was shortlisted for the 2010 inaugural CAL Scribe Fiction Prize. Jane has been visiting Varuna since she won an inaugural New Writers’ Fellowship in 1995. She worked with fiction mentor Amanda Lohrey on a residential program in 2000 and came up for a Professional Development residency in 2008. Every visit leaves her a lot more relaxed and her writing a lot better. Jane's novel Little People was published by Scribe in 2011.



Leigh Swinbourne Leigh Swinbourne is a dramatist and fiction writer resident in Hobart. His work has been shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, the Varuna Award and The Tasmanian Literary Prizes. His plays have been produced locally and interstate, and he has published two critically acclaimed collections of short stories, The Shark and Away, through Ginninderra Press. His first novel, Shadow in the Forest, will be published by Guillotine Press in 2017.

More on Leigh’s writing can be found at



Carolyn Swindell Carolyn Swindell is a born-again writer, constantly evangelising on the virtues of Varuna, despite only having been acquainted with said virtues since December 2006. She has made her living out of churning out press releases and speeches and has a limited, but much cherished publishing history in journalism, short stories and online journals. Carolyn is currently the Reputation Manager for Vodafone Australia and sits on the Board of the Vodafone Australia Foundation - and has recently joined the Varuna Board as an Alumni representative. Prior to this, she worked with corporate/community partnerships on both sides of the fence since 2000. She is completing her first work of popular long fiction. NZ-born, Queensland-raised and now resident in Sydney, she is a passionate fan of all ball sports except soccer.


Adrienne TAM

Adrienne Tam Adrienne Tam is a Fiji-born Chinese chick with an American drawl living in Sydney, Australia. She writes all sorts of things. Varuna is a special place and she is grateful for every moment she got to spend there. More on Adrienne:



Tangea Tansley Tangea Tansley's latest publications are her third novel A Question of Belonging (Arena Books) and the collection Perspectives: Story & Memoir. Her other novels are A Break in the Chain (longlisted in One Country Reading) and Out of Place (shortlisted in the Penguin-Varuna unpublished manuscript competition). Her non-fiction includes Our Grand Design, For Women Who Grieve and ghost for Ethnée Holmes à Court's memoir Heytesbury Stud. Many of her short stories, essays and reviews have been published, broadcast and anthologised. She is a winner of the Society of Women Writers' Launceston Literary Award and joint-winner of the Todhunter Literary Award, while other stories have been highly commended or shortlisted in national competitions. She has a PhD from Murdoch University in cross-cultural writing and a background in magazine editing and publishing, journalism, public relations and university lecturing.



TAYLOR JOHNSON Heather Heather Taylor Johnson’s first novel, Pursuing Love and Death (HarperCollins 2013), was the love child of a Varuna / HarperCollins unpublished manuscript award. Her second novel, Jean Harley was Here, will come out with UQP in February 2017. As of October 2016 she’ll be the author of four books of poetry. She is the poetry editor for Transnational Literature and is currently editing the poetry anthology Fractured Selves: A Poetry Anthology of Chronic Illness and Pain. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide and has taught in the subject at uni, but then quickly realised she doesn’t belong there because she loves writing most of all (and has three children, a husband and a dog).



Gillian Telford Gillian Telford is a NSW poet, born in England of Irish parents, who has lived & worked in NSW & Tasmania as a speech pathologist, ESL teacher & administrator. She started writing poetry regularly in 2001 after moving from Sydney to the Central Coast & for many years was an active member of Central Coast Poets Inc. During this time she co-edited three of their Henry Kendall Award anthologies. Her poems have been published regularly in journals and anthologies and twice short-listed for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. A first collection Moments of Perfect Poise was published by Ginninderra Press in 2008. After a Varuna ‘Strictly Poetry’ Focus week with Deb Westbury in 2013, she applied for and was awarded a 2014 Varuna/ Picaro Press PIP Fellowship and her new collection An Indrawn Breath was launched in May 2015.


Catherine THERESE

THERESE Catherine 2 Catherine Therese is an award winning Australian writer, designer and educator with a lifelong obsession for finding words for feelings to illuminate the interior lives of people and places. She has lived and worked widely within the arts in Europe and Australia. Her memoir The Weight of Silence was an Age and SMH Book of The Year and Finalist in the National Biography and ABIA awards. A Varuna Fellowship recipient, alumni, mentor and curator since 2005, Catherine is currently based in Sydney, working on a novel about an irascible matriarch in a family cauldron.



Tim Thorne Tim is the author of fourteen books of poetry, the latest being The Unspeak Poems and other verses (Walleah Press 2014). He first came to Varuna on a fellowship in 1993 and has returned on a regular basis as a paying guest since 2005. His more recent achievements include winning the William Baylebridge Memorial Award for his A Letter to Egon Kisch in 2007, the Christopher Brennan Award in 2013 and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize in 2014.



THURLOE HelenHelen Thurloe is an award-winning Australian writer.

Her debut novel, Promising Azra, is being published by Allen & Unwin in August 2016. It’s about forced child marriage in contemporary Australia, based on extensive research and interviews.

Helen’s poetry can be found in anthologies, journals and online. A few of these poems have also won prizes. These include the ACU Literature Prize (Surgeon mother), Banjo Paterson Writing Award (host, Motherland dilution), and the Ethel Webb Bundell Literary Award (Wishful Neighbouring).

Twitter: @helen_thurloe




 TRELOAR lucyLucy Treloar is a writer and editor who came to Varuna in 2013 on a Publisher Fellowship (Pan Macmillan). Her debut novel, Salt Creek (Picador 2015) is set in the remote beautiful and inhospitable region of South Australia’s Coorong in the 1850s and explores the social and environmental impacts of an early settler family on the region and its indigenous inhabitants. Lucy is the winner of the 2013 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award and the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Pacific Region). Her fiction and non-fiction has been published in anthologies, newspapers and journals.




Ian Trevaskis Ian got serious about writing after the late Michael Dugan came for dinner in the early 90s. He has been blessed with four stints at Varuna and has been expertly guided by Mark Macleod and Jenny Pausacker among others. His Fellowship in 2007 resulted in the novel Medusa Stone published in June 2009 by Walker Books, and which will form a series under the masthead of Hopscotch. Book Two in the series, Golden Scarab, was published in 2010. Walker Books also published Ian’s picture story book The Edge of the World in 2010. Another picture book, Delilah’s Dream (New Frontier) was released in August 2009. Varuna never fails to have Ian salivating with creative juices and continues to reaffirm his belief in himself as a genuine writer.



Sara Rena VIDAL

Sara Vidal Sara Vidal was born in a refugee camp in late 1945 and came to Melbourne early in 1949, graduated BARCH Melbourne University (1968), joined the Victorian Public Service (1979 -1993) (Project Manager Housing Upgrade (1979-1985), Manager Environmental Health Standards (1985 – 1993)). She began this memoir in 1992, at a time of holocaust denial, with a sense of responsibility to the aging survivor generation. In 2000, after the death of her husband, as a mature age student at the University of Melbourne, she completed several subjects in history and philosophy. In 2001, as Manager Wendouree West Neighborhood Renewal, Ballarat, she established the framework and committee structure for this landmark project. Her prior and subsequent positions in the private sector include work as an architect, human resources consultant, and consultant for not-for-profit organisations. Several of her drawings and paintings are part of a permanent exhibition, ‘Out of the Dark’, 2009 at The Dax Centre Melbourne. Retired since mid-2014, she lives with her partner in Williamstown, helps care for her 93-year-old mother, enjoys and helps out with four grandchildren, and continues to research and write.



Mark Wakely Mark Wakely is an ABC journalist and a writer who first came to Varuna in 2005 as the recipient of an Eleanor Dark fellowship. His first book, Dream Home (Allen & Unwin 2003), is a multi-faceted reflection on domestic architecture and the meaning of home, which was shortlisted for the 2004 NSW Premier’s Award for non-fiction. In 2006 Mark was awarded a CAL Varuna Second Book Fellowship, leading to the 2008 publication by MUP of Mark's second work of non-fiction, Sweet Sorrow: A Beginner's Guide to Death.



WALKER LisaLisa was a recipient of the Varuna HarperCollins Award in 2011, leading to the publication of her first novel and the Varuna Litlink Residency Award in 2009 and 2015. She is the author of the novels Liar Bird (HarperCollins, 2012), Sex, Lies and Bonsai (HarperCollins, 2013) and Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing (Random House, 2015). In addition, her half hour radio play, Baddest Backpackers was produced by ABC Radio National in 2008. She lives on the north coast of NSW.




WALKER Yvette2Yvette Walker has a BA (Honours) and a PhD from Curtin University in Perth, WA. In 2009, she won the Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship. In 2011 she received a Varuna Publishers Fellowship which lead to the publication of her debut novel, Letters to the End of Love, published by University of Queensland Press in 2013. Letters to the End of Love won a 2014 WA Premier's Book Award (WA Emerging Writer) and was shortlisted for a 2014 NSW Premier's Book Award (Glenda Adam's Award for New Writing). Her short fiction has been published in Review of Australian Fiction and The Nightwatchman. Yvette is currently working full time on her second novel, entitled Nazimova.

Web: @ywalkerwriter


Karen WEST

WEST KarenKaren West chooses to write on subjects that are challenging and often confronting. Published in 1993 by ABC Enterprises for a non-fiction motivational book Living with Arthritis a Text Book of Hope. Stories and articles published in magazines that include the Woman's Day and Health magazines.
In 2015: awarded the Varuna National Writers Centre Publisher Introduction Program (PIP) for the young adult fiction novel Living Voice.
Also in 2015: awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship for 2016 for the second young adult fiction novel Breaking Silently.
Third young adult fiction novel in progress She Has the Power.



Deb Westbury Poet Deb Westbury has enjoyed a long and productive association with Varuna since its inception in 1991 – as a facilitator of its community workshops, as a writing consultant, mentor and co-ordinator of various masterclasses. Many of her finest and most memorable poems have been composed during her time at Varuna as teacher and visitor. Deb is presently working on her next collection of poetry and conducting a monthly writing group at Varuna. She is also developing workshops in simple handmade books as a complement to the workshops she offers to schools and community groups.



Kim Westwood Kim’s writing began with short stories, and fourteen have been published to date: in anthologies in Australia and the USA, including the Review of Australian Fiction (2013), aired on ABC Radio (2007, 2011), and collecting the Scarlet Stiletto Judges’ Prize (2011). Her first novel (The Daughters of Moab, HarperCollins 2008) got her a Varuna Retreat Fellowship. Oh! It was autumn, and beautiful. The second (The Courier’s New Bicycle, HarperCollins 2011) was shortlisted for the Tiptree Award and two crime fiction awards (Ned Kelly, Davitt), and won two speculative fiction awards (Aurealis, Ditmar). Her current, This Desperate Place, garnered an artsACT grant and a month-long residency with the ghosts in the Old Melbourne Gaol.



WILLIAMS LaurenLauren Williams was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia; she now resides in the town of Maldon, in central Victoria. She began writing poetry in the early 1980s, and has performed her work nationally and internationally. She's been an editor (Going Down Swinging), publisher (Big Bang), reviewer (ABR), convenor (La Mama Poetica), and teacher (RMIT) of poetry. Lauren's fifth collection, Cleanskin Poems, was published by Island Press Co-operative in 2016. She has a BA in Spanish language from La Trobe university. She is also a prize-winning singer/songwriter.



Charlotte WOOD

Charlotte Wood Charlotte first came to Varuna in 1996 for a weekend as a paying guest. Since then she has returned often, being mentored and later mentoring others, having the good fortune of a couple of fellowships and generally coming and going as if she owns the place. Her latest novel is Animal People and she has a non-fiction book about learning to cook forthcoming in April 2012.


Fiona WOOD

Fiona Wood Fiona Wood was awarded the 2008 Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship for Fiction for Six Impossible Things. Two visits to beautiful Varuna helped the writing process enormously. The book is published by Pan Macmillan. It contains a representation of the Varuna ladder. Fiona is working on a second YA novel, Pulchritude and counting the days till she can reapply for a fellowship. She is a graduate of Melbourne University, and has spent much of the last ten years writing television scripts.




Greg Woodland Greg Woodland is a writer-director of short films, documentaries and a writer of feature scripts. Since 2000 he’s worked as a freelance script editor and consultant for film funding bodies and the AWG and is also director of his independent script development service. His screenplay The Whistler won several script competitions including a Varuna Writers Fellowship and brought him to Varuna in 2005. He wants to come back – and to that end has written his first novel, Pangs. It was shortlisted for two of the Varuna publishers’ fellowships. Close, but no cigar. But like Governor Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, he’ll be back ...



Kate Wyvill Kate Wyvill is based in Darwin and was selected for the inaugural residency Writing for Stage and Screen with Katherine Thompson. She is hoping to once again escape the Darwin humidity and return to Varuna for log-fires, red wine, hilarious company, oh … and to work on her next play.

Kate is a playwright/actress/director/producer/mother/slave. Her first play Going Potty opened at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2004, toured in 2006 and had a London season in 2007. Her adaptation called The Wardrobe was staged at the Darwin Entertainment Centre in 2010. She is currently working on Marbles for production in 2012.



Helene YOUNG

YOUNG Helene2After 28 years as an airline captain in Australia, Helene Young has swapped the sky for the sea to go in search of adventure with her husband aboard their sailing catamaran. The rural and remote places she visits, along with the fascinating people she meets, provide boundless inspiration for her novels. Her strong interest in both social justice and the complexity of human nature shapes the themes she explores. Her six novels have won many awards including Romantic Book of the Year in Australia.


Kimberley ZENETH (nee Mann)

ZENETH KimberleyKimberley has published in journals, books, stone, parking-meters and on skin. She created poetry installation for the Adelaide Fringe, co-wrote an opera libretto, completed a Master of Creative Writing and was selected for a Poetry Masterclass with Ron Pretty and a Fiction Fellowship at Varuna. Her first book Awake During Anaesthetic was published in 2009, National New Poets Program. The Adelaide City Council commissioned Kim to work with four sculptors to create the Wirranendi Sculpture Trail. She is working on her next poetry collection while co-writing a novel. She lives in the desert with her beautiful wife.