20 March 2020

Meet the young writers of Toolkits: Fiction for 2020!

We’re stoked to be kicking off Season One of Toolkits 2020 with 8 talented young writers from across Australia, participating in Toolkits: Fiction! In the programs fifth year, we received many applications, making the selection process a difficult one.  For 12 weeks, these young writers will be learning the ins and outs of creative writing and editing their own work from the best in the business!

Toolkits: Fiction will be facilitated by Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year, Jennifer Down, author of Our Magic Hourand Pulse Points. Jennifer will facilitate the online sessions and workshops, providing one-on-one mentorship and individualised feedback to each writer.

For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in right now!) visit our website. But for now, say hello to the class of 2020!


Zoe Nay, 20, (Brisbane, QLD)

Hello, my name is Zoe! If I had to give my life a three-word headline, it would be: Girl Asks Why. Why, you may ask, would that be your headline? Many important questions start with why. Why are you here? Why do you feel everything so intensely? Why not? When I write – whether it is poetry, fantasy or anything in-between – I find more out about the world and about myself. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the Queensland University of Technology. I also work at my university as an International Human Rights law researcher. 

Last year I wrote one book and too many poems to count. I am currently working on my second book, which is a lovely little mixture of fantasy and literary fiction. When I think about my future, I see it filled with many stories. I hope some of those are ones I have written, bound and carved in ink, capable of making someone else feel the way I do when I read. 

Kayla Milaudi, 29, (Melbourne. VIC)

Kayla is a 29-year-old working for a financial conglomerate in Melbourne. Seeking to feed her addiction to live music (and a sprinkling of self-discovery) she left Brisbane for Melbourne four years ago. Except for when there are more than three cold days in a row, she hasn’t looked back. Kayla doesn’t own a car but blows her money on a $20/week olive habit. She is also irrationally proud of having never had a blister from hiking.

Kayla is passionate about variety and this is evident in her writing. Her many notebooks play host to a fiesta of exploratory and abstract pieces that only have their author in common. Kayla draws short stories, poems and monologues from her own observations and experiences. From conversations overheard on trains, to exploring feelings of inanimate objects, her works are emotional, a little strange and make dull feel deep. If you’ve ever wondered if your hairs have thoughts and feelings, she may be able to aid in your investigation. Sometimes she posts on twitter @Kay_Lame and uploads images on Instagram @kaylame_90

Liam Diviney, 24, (Sydney, NSW)

Liam Diviney (he/him) is a 24-year-old Sydney based dungeon master & recovering retail employee raised on Darkinyung land. He is interested in collaborative storytelling, apologising to fictional characters and would like to improve the focus and coherency of these apologies. You can find his words @jam.diet & in local zines like FLASHFICTION, downloadable here: https://jamdiet.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/flashfiction-zine/

Marcus Rockstrom, 29, (Melbourne, VIC)

My name is Marcus (often known as Mac), and I am a writer and editor who has spent the last ten or so years bouncing between jobs involving either profession as opportunity and circumstances have dictated. For several years I was a content producer and editor of the online Games Magazine at The Australia Times, and I have also done work in book editing, copywriting, transcription, articles and endless amounts of proofreading. While my professional work is rewarding, my true passion is found in the fiction of fantasy, sci-fi and other grand tales. As a lifelong nerd, it has ever been my desire to create the sort of stories that have enthralled me all through life. I’ve finally decided to stop procrastinating and knuckle down on the projects that have been lurking at the back of my mind for far too long. My aim in participating in the Toolkits program is to determine where my strengths and weaknesses for fiction lie, and how best to deliver the stories I’d love to tell.

Nikita Petricevic, 18, (Renmark, SA)

Nikita Petricevic is an aspiring writer, volunteer at her local youth theatre, and serial daydreamer. Her personal anthology of works at this point consists of small stories shared with friends and family, a one-off podcast episode, and a few non-fiction articles written for her regional newspaper during a fortnights’ work experience. Nikita enjoys absurd comedy and fantasy, spouting random pop-culture facts and writing long “short” stories in the early hours of the morning, then leaving them to gather dust in a corner. Along with meeting awesome writers, she’s looking forward to learning epic skills from the Toolkits: Fiction workshop, such as sticking with a narrative, writing characters with more depth and editing her own work. She’s having second thoughts about the third-person narration in her biography but figures it’s too late to turn back now.

Azlïn Auckburally, 21, (Alice Springs, NT)

Azlïn Auckburally is a writer from Central Australia. She spends her time dreaming of strange things, struggling to put those strange things down on paper, and collecting mispronunciations of her own name. A part-time player of Dungeons and Dragons and a few video games, she has a particular fondness for fantasy and stories with a bit of magic in them. She has tried wrapping her head around sci-fi a few times with varying degrees of success. Somehow a story of hers was recently accepted into Aurealis magazine.

Despite being an avid reader and writing a fair bit, she knows little of the finer points of constructing a story. She is looking forward to learning in Toolkits and meeting fellow writers.

Haley Zilberberg, 24, (Melbourne, VIC)

Haley Zilberberg is a 24-year-old postgraduate student studying marketing communications at the University of Melbourne. She’s originally from Miami, Florida, has a background in social work, and currently works at Youth Disability Advocacy Service. She freelances, often writing articles about employment and education for young people with disabilities, and also works as a copywriter. In her free time, she dabbles in writing short stories, creative non-fiction, and poetry. Haley has had her fiction work published in Above Water and Loud Zoo. In 2018, she spent a week at a writing retreat at Sundress Academy for the Arts in Knoxville, Tennessee. Haley has a selection of her published pieces online in her folio at haleyzilberberg.com.au/portfolio. During Toolkits Fiction, Haley hopes to grow a network of fellow writers and learn more about writing long-form fiction.

Tegan Cassell, 24, (Burra, NSW)

 Tegan is a 24 year old writer living in a rural town on the outskirts of Canberra. She studied a Bachelor of Medical Science at the ANU, which taught her a lot about science, a lot about medicine, and a lot about herself – primarily that she didn’t want to be a doctor. Tegan began writing fiction at a young age and completed her first novel at the age of 12. She is incredibly grateful to have been accepted into the Toolkits:Fiction program, and hopes to use it to improve the structure and pace of her writing.  Tegan’s favourite authors include Sarah J Maas, Melina Marchetta and Nora Roberts. You can find her book reviews on Instagram @myshortopinions.