2020 Varuna Residency Fellowships

Congratulations to the writers who have been awarded a Varuna Residency Fellowship for 2020.

This year we received 229 applications for Varuna Residency Fellowships. Submissions were received from writers at all stages of their writing lives. Peer assessors read each applicant's submission and proposal, and the 24 fellowships winners were selected on the basis of criteria that included both the artistic merit of the work and the potential for its development.

Thank you to all of the writers who submitted their work for consideration this year.

This was a very strong field of applicants and our assessors could only award award 24 Fellowships.

Varuna and the peer assessment panel encourage your endeavours and your future writing.

The 2020 Varuna Residential Fellowship writers are listed below.


Awarded for applications of outstanding quality these fellowships The Eleanor Dark, Dr Eric Dark, Mick Dark and Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowships are each for three weeks. The Ray Koppe/ASA Young Writer’s Fellowship for Short Story Writing is a two-week fellowship.

The Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Shady Cosgrove, for her fictional work, Freefall, which follows the journey of a single mother, following the death of her brother, to a near-future New York. Living in the squat he founded, she becomes implicated in a plan to bring down Wall Street.

The Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Vanessa O’Neill, for her script/screenplay, The Greer Effect , a theatrical investigation of the impact of Germaine Greer's work over the past 50 years. The script examines Greer in her many and varied roles: as academic, feminist, performer, writer, journalist, libertarian, environmentalist and provocateur.

The Mick Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Ella Jeffery for The Year of Two Winters, a collection of lyric poetry that explores the complications and contradictions of building new houses, estates and cities, in a period of hyper-consumption, environmental instability and housing insecurity.

The Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Jane Gibian, for her work, Momentary: a poetry collection engaged foremost with the natural environment, as well as experiences of time, the possibilities and constraints of language, and poetic constructions of relationships.

The Ray Koppe/ASA Young Writer’s Fellowship is awarded to Hayley Scrivenor, for her fictional work, The Push Back. When a young girl goes missing on her way home from school, her best friend is determined to find her. What happens next will change a small Australian country town, forever.


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

Kay Kerr, forTell Me Something I Don’t Know, a young-adult novel about Nora, a 15-year-old autistic girl navigating her grief after the death of her mother, as she struggles to find her new place in the family she didn't know she had, on the other side of the world.

Lisa Walker, for Curse of the Night Parrot, a young adult novel about socially awkward bird-nerd, Dani, who must save her home and find her mother. But first she needs to track down the most elusive bird in the world.

Sophie Quick, for Doctor Ruth, a comic novel about a truly agile, aspirational Australian: a suburban mother/internet con-artist endeavours to gain a foothold in one of the world's most prohibitive housing markets.

Magdalena McGuire, for her collection of short stories about motherhood and transgression:Other People’s Mothers.

Paris Floyd, for her narrative non-fiction Mai, an unfinished Hmong song.

Alexandria Burnham, for her fictional work, Majesty. When the heir to the Empire is killed, the spare, trained as a soldier and woefully unprepared for leadership, must learn to navigate the political lies and plots surrounding her, if she has any chance of protecting those she cares about.

Tom de Souza, for Meth: A journey to self-awareness. A story of teenage years lost to crime and ice addiction, exploring intergenerational fault lines in family, and the journey of insight and awareness towards resolving those faults.

Ron Pretty, for High Tide, a nascent collection of poetry, which will be published in 2021 or 2022.

Sandra Makeresz, for her children’s book Cloudland. Roly copes with his emotional life in a blended family by drawing in his sketchbook. But there's a creature in their new house, in the space behind the window in the attic, and it's using Roly's drawings to bring its own world to life.

Lucie Stevens, for her children’s book, The Glinn. In fighting for her passage home from a parallel universe, an eleven-year-old girl sparks a revolution.

Sophie Hosking, for Outside the Jar, a young adult work of fiction, about an opinionated second child and her three sisters who have grown up in the Jar - part of a psychological experiment to examine the first children raised on Mars prior to widespread colonisation. When funding runs out, their world is turned upside down.

Audrey Molloy, for Skin Song, a poetry collection themed around the wild creature residing just beneath a woman's skin, exploring the beautiful, erotic, difficult, and sometimes surreal corners of modern femininity.

Rachael Mogan McIntosh, for Children Are Disgusting: A Love Story. A dark comedy about adjusting from the wild life to the child life, with themes of chronic pain, grief and identity.

Lauren Foley, forThe Dark Place: A contemporary, Australian Gothic novel.

Jennifer Castles, for her cold-case crime thriller The Poe, set in the sleepy-creepy city of Adelaide.

Cassie Lane, for The Last Breath, a novel about a misfit hospice nurse with intimacy issues, who encounters an interesting suitor. Her patients implore her to let love in, but Grace is certain no amount of love can survive her dark past. Maybe she is right.

Jessica Wilkinson, for Like Rockets on a Starry Night: A Biography of Lucette Aldous: an experimental long poem (book-length) on the life of ballerina Lucette Aldous.

Lyn Yeowart, for her fictional work, The Silent Listener. Joy Henderson plans revenge for the violence she suffered during her strange childhood on a remote farm; haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a little girl years ago, she must confront her family's veil of lies and secrets.

Annabel Stafford, for her fictional work, Ada and Eve. Her confidence shattered after the death of a patient, Ada gets a job as a cargo ship doctor and finds herself caring for a suicidal young woman; a job that will make her question her beliefs about medicine, life and what it means to be human.

Kate O'Connell