13 March 2018

Meet the young writers of Toolkits 2018!

We’re stoked to be kicking off Toolkits 2018 with 16 talented young writers from across Australia, participating in Toolkits: Fiction and Toolkits: Nonfiction. In just the third year of the Toolkits program, we received many applications, making the selection process a difficult one. We’re excited to introduce the 8 young writers selected for Toolkits: Ficton and 8 young writers selected for our inaugural Toolkits: Nonfiction. For 12 weeks, these young writers will be learning the ins and outs of creative writing and journalism from the best in the business, from facilitators Jennifer Down and Tom Doig. For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in very soon!) visit our website. But for now, say hello to the class of 2018!


Ashleigh Hardcastle, 26, Perth 

Ashleigh Hardcastle is 26 years old and is based in Perth, though she grew up in the Wheatbelt and likes to set her stories in a thinly-disguised version of her hometown. She had been MIA in the world of creative writing since her teenage years, as she was busy pursuing a career in psychology. However, in mid-2017 she rediscovered her love for the written word and hasn’t looked back since. Ashleigh writes both fiction and memoir, and has had several short stories published. She is currently revising the draft of her first novel for young adults, based on which she has been awarded a 2018 Fellowship at the Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writers’ Centre. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading YA novels, camping in the bush, and hanging out with her fur-babies. She is taking part in Toolkits in the hope of meeting other young writers and reigniting her creative spark after several years of churning out deadly-dull psychology reports. She is particularly keen to hone her skills in the areas of character development, descriptive language, and editing.

Aden Curran, 20, Perth

Been writing since I was very young, when I wrote and drew the infamous Frogman and Tadpoleboy series of comics, blatantly ripping off plot points from a swath of media from Doctor Who to Deltora Quest. Despite this, it didn’t take me long to realise that my writing was streets ahead of my drawing, so I gave up on comics and have been writing stories and poetry ever since. I like Sci Fi, Fantasy, Slice-of-Life Realism, and (good) free verse. Having said that, I’m actually pretty impartial to genre and can find something to appreciate in anything. I try to write as widely as I can and am hoping to learn how to write more deeply. You can follow me on twitter @porotinaus

Britt Aylen, 28, Launceston

Britt is a content producer, television presenter, and aspiring YA novelist.  She has written for factual and children’s television, as well as various music publications, and once flew to the other side of the world just to see her favourite band. As a participant in Toolkits: Fiction, Britt is hoping to finally finish writing the novel she’s been working on for the past five years (and maybe make some progress on the one she started writing last year, too).  Britt tweets at @brittinboots, and occasionally blogs at brittinboots.com

Emma Kate Lewis, 24, Brisbane

Emma Kate Lewis is a 24-year-old writer and editor whose work has been published by Voiceworks, Hot Chicks with Big Brains, and Commonwealth Writers. Born in Malta to British parents, she now lives in Brisbane where she studies a dual degree in Journalism and Arts at the University of Queensland, majoring in English Literature and Writing. She has a keen interest in marine science and environmental conservation, and likes to spend her free time travelling, climbing, and diving. She has a big, scruffy dog who (sometimes) answers to Zephyr, and a bedroom filled with plants growing in repurposed wine bottles. Throughout the Toolkits program, Emma plans to continue writing and editing her debut novel, a work of literary fiction. Find her online at www.eklewis.com.

Georgia Conner, 16, Sydney

My name is Georgia Conner, I am sixteen years old and I live in Sydney, NSW. My passion for writing began when my year two teacher gave us the task to write a short story. As my pencil wiggled across the dotted paper, a story was forming along the page, with my mind swirling with images of a bright, colourful landscape. I was fascinated with the ability to create a story within my mind, and allow the possibility for another to experience it as if they were myself. My passion for writing intensified through my grandmother, my greatest supporter, who always highlighted writing related articles in the newspaper, paid for numerous writing courses, and also allowed me to publish articles in her friend’s newspaper. Through the writing opportunities she gave me, I gained the confidence to enter my first writing competition for my area, in which I came third place within the senior division and earnt publication within a state-library anthology. I believe Toolkits: Fiction has great potential to allow me to further my writing skills by helping me to develop my story and its characters, and to ultimately bring me closer to my dream of being a professional writer.

Julie Siegenhardt, 19, Darlington

My name is Julie and I really really really just like writing. I’m from Cape Town, the city on the tip of Africa, the city with big mountains and lots of problems but also lots of magic. Walking around intrigued by everything and casually forgoing correct punctuation and grammar (literally allll the tiiime) is what I do best. In high school my English teacher took a shine to my writing and submitted some of my essays to an anthology called English Alive, filled with writing from students all over South Africa and I was lucky enough to be published in that a few times. Writing to me is synonymous with existing, its how I live my life. I find it easy to chuck words on to a page but to make them mean something, to have structure and specific tone and make sense to someone other than myself is what I hope to gain from Toolkits. Pop a holla on my Insta or Tumblr @julsrobyn


Maddie Godfrey, 22, North Perth

Maddie Godfrey is a Perth-bred writer, poet and theatre maker. At 22, they have performed at The Sydney Opera House, The Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury Festival and St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Their work has been internationally published in various magazines, literary journals, anthologies, on posters, and was also included as a close-reading text in the 2016 WACE exam. Maddie is passionate about using writing to facilitate compassionate conversations about social issues. Their first collection, titled “How To Be Held” will be published by Burning Eye Books in June 2018. Maddie is not a morning person. Through Toolkits: Fiction, Maddie hopes to expand their practice past poetry and explore new avenues of storytelling. They hope to challenge themselves to be more patient with their writing, and allow creative concepts to expand past stanzas and become prose paragraphs instead. 




Nicola West, 28, Sydney

Nicola is a freelance writer and psychology student based in Sydney, Australia. Her writing has been shortlisted for the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing, and the Mamamia Women’s Network Writers Competition, as well as shortlisted and commended for The Society of Women Writers (NSW) National Non-Fiction Award, and the Bitch Media Fellowship for Writers. With a background in non-fiction writing, Nicola is thrilled to take part in Toolkits: Fiction and hopes to hone her skills in the genre. The end goal is to complete her debut novel—a gripping crime thriller set in the bucolic seaside town Nicola grew up in—which follows a young journalist’s gruesome discovery at the town’s annual show. With the crime conveniently pinned on an innocent man, and national interest in the case growing by the day, the journalist must decide if she wants to help keep a dark family secret or break the biggest story of her career. Used to writing in her own voice, Nicola is particularly interested in developing her characterisation skills and is looking forward to inhabiting her protagonist’s psyche over the twelve weeks of Toolkits.



Alex Creece, 24, Victoria

Alex Creece is a twenty-four year old land mammal located in Victoria, Australia. She studies Arts at Monash University, and loves animals, craft projects, and brave literature. Alex is passionate about diverse voices and perspectives within the arts, and often incorporates her experiences as a queer and neurodivergent woman in her pieces. Alex writes fiction, poetry, nonfiction and hybrid pieces, and is looking forward to expanding her technical knowledge of nonfiction through the Toolkits program, as well as meeting some rad new writer friends. Alex has been published in Junkee, the Bender, Antipodean Sci Fi, and others. She has a website with further information at creecedpaper.com/works.


Amelia Joy, 25, Brisbane

Amelia Joy is an emerging writer from Adelaide, currently based in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Adelaide and has completed further graduate studies specialising in the Creative Industries through QUT. In 2014, her short story “Team” was published and she wrote her first novel. Through Toolkits, Amelia is excited to immerse herself in the world of non-fiction and memoir, as well as connect with writers around the country. She hopes to hone her writing skills and apply what she learns to her current narrative non-fiction work-in-progress. Amelia is currently writing a collection of astrological essays. Follow her ramblings @ameliajoyh

Devana Senanayake, 23, Melbourne

Devana Senanayake is 23 years old. She is Sri Lankan but currently based in Melbourne, Victoria. She is a content specialist and multimedia journalist. She focuses on race, feminism, colonisation and food. She is interested in the exposure and celebration of the diverse voices, experiences and projects run by people of colour. Through the Toolkits Program she hopes to learn more about Melbourne’s current literary landscape. She hopes to gain skills that help her expose more marginalised voices and their complex identities. She also aims to improve her storytelling skills, particularly in the non-fiction department. Devana is particularly excited for the “literary journalism” chapter of the program.  She can be found on her website: devanasenanayake.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter: @dsenanayake16


Emma Dunlop, 24, Brisbane

Emma is a 24-year-old writer based in Brisbane, Queensland. Through her involvement with the Toolkits: Nonfiction program, she hopes to improve her ability to construct and craft pieces that can highlight important issues and voices. Emma is looking forward to learning about the theoretical approaches, structural frameworks, and ethics behind writing effective creative nonfiction.


 Eugenia Zoubtchenko, 28, Melbourne

Eugenia is a trained architect, an avid traveller and an aspiring writer. Her writing is inspired by cities and the weird and beautiful relationships people have with them. She hopes that the Toolkits: Nonfiction course will teach her with the concrete skills of structuring a story, and help transform parts of her rambling diary into something that someone, someday might actually want to read.


Fiona Murphy, 30, Melbourne

Fiona Murphy is a writer, poet and podcaster based in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in The Age, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, Meanjin (online), Writers Bloc, among others. She won the Vox Bendigo Fyffe prose prize in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Porter Award for Poets. In 2017, she was awarded the Bright Sparks San Francisco writing fellowship, a writing residency at Feminartsy and a Write-Ability fellowship from Writers Victoria. In 2018, she will be travelling to Indonesia with the WrICE fellowship program. When Fiona is not writing, she co-hosts the podcast Literary Canon Ball and is a weekend newsreader for Vision Australia Radio. During Toolkits, Fiona will be working on a collection of essays about disability and social justice. Disability is an inevitable and fundamental aspect of being human, yet it remains in a chokehold of stigma. This manuscript will be informed by her experiences as a deaf woman, as well as rigorous research and interviews.

Twitter: @fi_murphy_

Instagram: @fi.murphy


Jai Moore, 23, Melbourne

Jai is a young trans writer and audio producer living on Wurundjeri land in Narrm [Melbourne]. They recently completed a Bachelor of Communication (Professional Writing) at Victoria University and an editorial internship at Overland literary journal. Jai has a history of experimentation with student theatre, improvised comedy, and pasta/sauce combinations, and is currently the executive producer of SYN Nation flagship Loud & Queer.


Twitter @thejaimoore


Yen-Rong Wong, 23, Brisbane 

Yen-Rong is a Brisbane-based writer, and the founding editor of Pencilled In, a magazine dedicated to showcasing the work of Asian Australian artists. She usually writes memoir and personal essays, and her work has been published in The Guardian, Overland, Tincture Journal, Rambutan Literary, and more. Through Toolkits: Nonfiction, she hopes to learn more about different forms of nonfiction, and will challenge herself to write outside of her comfort zone. She tweets at @inexorablist, and can be found at http://inexorablist.com.