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The Next Big Thing: Hot Desk 2024 Edition #1


Event Status

Be the first to hear from emerging writers as they share what they’ve been working on during a ten-week fellowship at The Wheeler Centre.

About the Event

Our popular Next Big Thing series is back again this July, and writers awarded a 2024 Hot Desk Fellowship will share excerpts from their works-in-progress.

Grab a drink and be inspired as host Diem Nguyen joins Jacinta Dietrich, Shashini Gamage, Kate Harris, Ayesha Mona, Al Speers, Stella Theocharides and Xiaole Zhan in taking over the Moat for an evening of creativity, craft and candour.

Whether you’re into middle-grade fantasy, young-adult fiction, comics, memoir or literary fiction, there’s something for every budding writer and critic at this edition of The Next Big Thing.


The Hot Desk Fellowships are supported by the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, the Readings Foundation and the Just Pretending theatre group.


Accessible toilets available

Auslan interpreting available by request

Companion tickets available

Registered Assistance Animals welcome

Wheelchair accessible

Please notify us of all access requirements when booking online so we can assist you with your visit. If you require further information, please contact

The Next Big Thing

Want to meet tomorrow’s literary stars today? Let us introduce you.

The Next Big Thing takes place every month at the Moat and is a cherished Melbourne institution. It’s the place to be if you want to hear great emerging writers read from new and adventurous work.

Enjoy a delicious drink while sampling writing from tomorrow’s best and brightest literary stars.

Next Big Thing is generously supported by George and Rosa Morstyn.

The Next Big Thing


Jacinta Dietrich

Jacinta Dietrich is a neurodivergent and bisexual writer, editor and podcaster based in Naarm, Melbourne. Her first novella, This Is Us Now, was published with Grattan Street Press in 2021. She has also been published in Black Inc.’s Growing Up in Country Australia and the Grattan Street Press Int... Read more

Shashini Gamage

Shashini Gamage is a writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. She is a graduate of the Faber Writing Academy. Her debut novel was long-listed for the 2023 Richell Prize. She has read from her work at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Melbourne. Originally from Sri Lanka, Gamage worked as a journalist and do... Read more

Kate Harris

Kate Harris is a writer living and working on Wadawurrung country. Over the years she has written theatre, comedy, fiction and non-fiction. Recently she has focused on literary and speculative fiction looking at trauma and transformation in the lives of women and girls. Her novel in progress, Wake, ... Read more

Ayesha Mona

Ayesha Mona is a writer, actor and model. She grew up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Brisbane. Her artistic expression draws on all of these experiences and her work centres around de-coloniality and intersectional feminism. She is currently facilitating revolution & femme consciousness raising w... Read more

Al Speers

Al Speers is a writer, musician, and sex worker living on stolen Wurundjeri land in Naarm. Their current focus is on building past and future dystopias that allow them to explore how power is created and maintained.

Stella Theocharides

Stella Theocharides lives in Preston, Naarm. They work as a farmhand, growing veg along the Maribyrnong on unceded Wurundjeri land. Their work has been published in The Suburban Review and Meanjin, and they have edited poetry for Voiceworks for around two years now. They draw comics. ... Read more

Xiaole Zhan

Xiaole Zhan (they/them) is a Chinese-New Zealand writer and composer based in Naarm. They are the recipient of the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship. They were also the winner of the 2023 Kill Your Darlings Non-Fiction Prize for their autobiographical essay Think An Empty Room, Moonly With Phoneglow explor... Read more

Diem Nguyen

Diem is the Wheeler Centre’s Program Coordinator. She has worked at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Writers Victoria, and the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Gender Studies and a Master of Arts and Cultural Management, both ... Read more


The Moat

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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