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 poet, life writer and essayist from Gunnedah and Tamworth, north-western New South Wales. She now lives in Sydney on Wangal land, where she studies a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney. Her work has been published in Meanjin, Vertigo and Colouring the Rainbow: Blak Queer and Trans Perspectives.
In 2015, Alison was awarded one of two Indigenous Writing Fellowships by the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! project. Written over four years and inspired by small fragments of her own life, Lemons in the Chicken Wire is Alison’s first published collection.
Marlee Jane Ward is a writer, reader and weirdo from Melbourne, Australia. She grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and studied creative writing at the University of Wollongong. She attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2014.
Her short stories have been published in Interfictions, Terraform, Apex, Mad Scientist Journal and the Hear Me Roar Anthology. Her debut novella, Welcome To Orphancorp, won Seizure's Viva La Novella 2015, and the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. She is currently working on the second book in the series.
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.