The Next Big Thing

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Small Town Stories

Rural Australia – indeed, rural anywhere – is a storytelling fixture. But in many ways, it’s specifically small towns that make a perfect setting for fiction, and a potent backdrop to coming of age.

A writer might draw on the intense social relations (or seething suspicions) of people living in each other’s pockets; the pleasures and pressures of being too near or too far from your roots. Small towns can represent a known quantity or an unknown quality. And, in terms of scale, some would be perfectly cast as a set for stage or screen.

In this edition of The Next Big Thing, we’ll hear from the authors of three new novels that take place beyond the big smoke. Slink down to The Moat to discover fresh writing from Jay Carmichael (Ironbark), Kate O’Donnell (Untidy Towns) and Mira Robertson (The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean).

Readings will be our bookseller at this event.


Portrait of Jay Carmichael

Jay Carmichael

Jay Carmichael is a writer and editor. His first novel, Ironbark, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016. His writing has been published by beyondblue and appeared widely in print and online, including in Overland, the GuardianSBS, and the Telling Tree project. Jay lives and works in Melbourne.

Portrait of Kate O’Donnell

Kate O’Donnell

Kate O’Donnell is a writer, editor and bookseller specialising in children’s and young adult literature. Untidy Towns is her first novel.

Portrait of Mira Robertson

Mira Robertson

Mira Robertson is an award winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction. Her feature film credits include the multi award winning films Only the Brave and Head On, co-written with director Ana Kokkinos. The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean is her first novel. She lives in Melbourne.

How much?

This is a free event. Bookings are essential. We recommend arriving early to secure your seat. Read our ticketing FAQs here.Booked out

The Next Big Thing

New and emerging writers often produce adventurous, experimental or honest work – with the lesser burden of expectation, habit and legacy allowing for more careful or bold ideas.

A Wheeler Centre stalwart, our Next Big Thing series showcases the best in fresh Australian writing – with a focus on a different genre each month. You’ll hear from future favourites, and discover new darlings while you enjoy a drink and a bite in the intimate surrounds of The Moat.

Why wait for everyone else to catch up? Find tomorrow’s literary stars today.


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