The Next Big Thing
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With a fan base far beyond that of its ‘young’ descriptor, Young Adult fiction is a not-so-guilty pleasure of readers of all ages – and Australian authors are producing some of the best work in the business. Come and hear from some of the newest voices adding shine to the golden age of YA, including Alison Whittaker, Emily Gale, Jessie Perrin and Marlee Jane Ward.
Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi multitasker from the floodplains of Gunnedah in NSW. Between 2017–2018, she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School, where she was named the Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law.
Her debut poetry collection, Lemons in the Chicken Wire, was awarded the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship in 2015, and was published by Magabala Books in 2016. Her latest book, Blakwork, was published in 2018.
As a poet and essayist, her work has been published in the Sydney Review of Books, Seizure, Overland, Westerly, BuzzFeed, Griffith Review, the Lifted Brow, Meanjin and Archer.
Alison was the co-winner of the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize in 2017 for her poem, 'Many Girls White Linen'. Most recently, she was the Australian Indigenous Poet-In-Residence for the 2018 Queensland Poetry Festival.
Marlee Jane Ward is a writer, reader and weirdo living in Melbourne. She grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and studied Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong. In 2014 she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, Washington.
You can find her short stories in the Hear Me Roar Anthology, Interdictions and Mad Scientist Journal. Her debut novella, Welcome to Orphancorp, won the 2015 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize and the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Its sequel, Psynode, was published in 2017.
Emily Gale has been involved in the children's book industry for nearly 20 years and has worked as an editor, reviewer, talent finder and literary award judge. She spent several happy years at independent bookshop Readings as a children's book buyer, during which time she was instrumental in establishing their Children's Book Prize.
Emily's writing includes two novels for teenagers – Girl, Aloud and Steal My Sunshine – and Eliza Boom's Diary for younger readers. Living on the other side of the world from the place she grew up (and most of her family) means that concepts of home, belonging and displacement have long occupied Emily's mind, inspiring her to write The Other Side of Summer.
Jessie Perrin is a University of Melbourne Arts graduate who has studied literature and taught English in Austin, Buenos Aires and Melbourne. She currently writes for Asylum Insight and works with Melbourne Free University to run courses and lectures around Melbourne. She’s recently started trying her hand at fiction, and hopes to commence a Master in Creative Writing this year – and to write the Great Australian Novel next year, featuring a carton of apple and ginger juice as the principal character.
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.