Varuna Fellowships 2017

Congratulations to the writers who have been awarded a Varuna Residency Fellowship for 2017.

This year we received more than 200 applications for Varuna Residency Fellowships. Submissions included applications from both published and yet to be published writers, and came from writers of all states and from diverse cultural backgrounds. Five peer assessors read each applicant's proposal and the 30 fellowships were decided upon through criteria that included calibre of work, uniqueness of voice and clear communication of the proposed work plan. Thank you to all of the applicants who submitted their work for consideration this year. On behalf of all at Varuna and the peer assessment panel we wish you well with your future writing.

The writers awarded a 2017 Varuna Residential Fellowship are:


Awarded for applications of outstanding quality these fellowships The Dark and the Hewitt Flagship Fellowships are each for three weeks. Offered in partnership with the Henry Handel Richardson Society, The Henry Handel Richardson Flagship Fellowship is for two weeks and includes a cash award of $1000 to cover travel costs and additional expenses.

The Mick Dark Flagship Fellowship 
- awarded to Rebecca Giggs for The Whale In The Room, a work of lyric, researched nonfiction, this book looks at the changing role of whales in environmental imagination. This award was established to honor of the amazing legacy of Varuna benefactor and committed conservationist Mick Dark this fellowship is awarded to a writer who is working on a manuscript of outstanding quality in the area of environmental writing.  

The Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship awarded to Deborah Kalin for her literary genre novel Salt Wives. This award was established in memory of Blue Mountains writer Eleanor Dark this writing fellowship is awarded for a fiction application of outstanding quality. 

The Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship awarded to Meera Atkinson for her Non-Fiction manuscript The Exiled Child (working title only). A creative-nonfiction exploration of the ways childhood trauma reverberates over a generation. This award was established in memory of Blue Mountains writer and social activist Eric Dark this writing fellowship is awarded for a non-fiction application of outstanding quality in social, historical or political writing. 

The Dorothy Hewitt Flagship Fellowship awarded to Saaro Umar for her collection of poetry fingernails & itch - Dismantling the mind of a First Gen-Oromo-Australian and how she navigates semi-adulthood in wake of her displacement. This award was established in memory of Blue Mountains poet Dorothy Hewitt this writing fellowship is awarded for a poetry collection of outstanding quality. 

The Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship awarded to Peggy Frew for Annas a collection of linked short stories concerning a family, set on an island off the coast of Victoria. This award was established to promote the life and legacy of Henry Handel Richardson as a significant Australian author and to encourage excellence in Australian short story writing.


Residential Fellowships are awarded to writers currently developing a new work of high potential and offer the writer a two week residency at Varuna to continue the development of their manuscript.

Ashleigh Davis for Abide - a book for children in which animals mysteriously appear every evening to wander amongst cities and suburbs, only to disappear by morning.

Emma Quay for Sunbeam Baby  - a picture book for very young children, celebrating the love we feel for our babies.

Clint Caward for still,life -  a novel about the death of radio, digital media's desperation to be 'liked' and the digital tsunami we'll all be engulfed by.

Kelly Gardiner for Grace - a novel of the interwoven lives and voices of Queen Elizabeth I and the pirate Grace O'Malley.

Kirsten Krauth for her fiction novel Almost a Mirror - how do you choose the soundtrack that defines your life - if that's all you have to leave?

Clare Macgown for her fiction novel Something Invisible to Others - young Annie survives the Welsh coal mines of the 1830's, to escape for good, she must be bad.

Suzanne McCourt for The Year of the Wolf  - a novel about love and loss, identity and obsession, set against a background of war and revolution in Poland and Russia

Kate Mildenhall for her fiction novel Borderless - May’s husband disappears while working on a secret project and she is forced to flee Australia with her two children.

Amanda Niehaus for her fiction novel Little Birds - after a dangerous affair, a young ornithologist must learn to control her dark urges.

Susan Paterson for her fiction novel Into the Green Fields - amid the psychological wilderness of life at sea, a 19th-century painter and sailor must confront a family legacy of grief

Anna Snoekstra for her fiction novel Dolls - a desperate reporter thrusts herself into the unnerving case of the appearance of porcelain dolls on doorsteps.

Nicole Crowe for her memoir Short Smoke and Lies - every kid wants to fit in but how can you ever hope to do that when you have a mother who keeps a dead bandicoot in the fridge.

Anne So for Second Chance Luck - an autobiographical novel about family ties, identity and the Chinese-Australian migrant experiencece

Simmone Howell  for her non-fiction work Strange Little Girl - a YA memoir that explores unconventional role models in literature and popular culture.

Julienne van Loon  for her non-fiction work Ideas for Living - popular philosophy for the thinking woman

Emily Bitto for All the Old Symbols - a poetry collection that has at its heart a preoccupation with symbolism and its personal and cultural functions.

Tricia Dearborn for Autobiochemistry - a poetry collection that draws on autobiographical material but takes unexpected directions.

Laura Kenny for her poetry collection Passages - Passages is preoccupied with the places we have been, the places we are going, and all that lies in between

Aden Rolfe for Heavenly Emporium - a poetry and poetics project about the relationship between objects and systems of classification.

Siall Waterbright for her poetry collection Anadi - written after the death of the poet's mother who lived for thirteen years with dementia.

Laura Elvery for her Short story collection The Elements exploring characters on the cusp of something new, whose lives turn on their relationships with objects.

Kim Astill for Spider On The Moon - a dark-yet-hopeful contemporary YA novel (15yrs+) with elements of mystery and wry humour.

Clare Atkins for Between Us - a young adult novel about two teenagers falling in love despite the political wilderness between them.

Charlotte Callander for her Young Adult novel Sirens - a teenage boy returns to his former hometown for the summer and must confront the truth about his twin brother's death.

Catherine Hainstock for her Young Adult novel Worth It - a 16 year-old BMX rider must decide what's worth fighting for when other people?s plans put him and his future at risk.

Vera Costello