19 March 2021

Get to Know the 2021 Toolkits Participants (Q&A)

We are so excited to begin our first season of Toolkits for 2021, and decided to have a quick chat with some of our Season 1 Toolkits participants from Toolkits Fiction, Graphic Narratives and Nonfiction, to get to know them better!

What are some of your interests?

Madi (Toolkits Graphic Narratives): I have quite a few interests! Of course, I absolutely love to draw and create stories, those have been my primary interests from a really young age. I also adore reading, whether it’s literary fiction, graphic narratives, or nonfiction. Other interests of mine include, hiking, roller skating, and stop-motion animation!

Selina (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives):I love small press comics, poetry, the Manben documentary series about mangaka, maps at the beginning of fantasy books, going to the aquarium in Animal Crossing, watching movies about teens where all the actors are over 25, taking photos of flowers, and hanging out with my dog. I’m really interested in how comics can be used to imagine alternative futures and visualise liberation. Comics have a rich history of resistance so it’s fun to be a part of that tradition. 

Mali (Toolkits: Nonfiction):  I’m really interested and committed to learning more about abolition right now. That ties together a lot of my work both in feminist and disability justice spaces, and is a big influence on my writing. I’m also a big sucker for birdwatching! I often joke with some of my friends about starting a decolonial birdwatching group.

Maki (Toolkits: Fiction): At the moment I’m really into contemporary dance, crochet, poetry podcasts and bingeworthy TV shows (I powered through all available episodes of Pen15 in 3 days)

Phoebe (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I read a lot, as you might expect! I’m usually reading a couple of books at a time, as well as working on a couple of different writing projects at a time. I also love cooking, taking photos of flowers, and cat mothering.

Bianca (Toolkits: Fiction): I live and breathe stories, so when I’m not reading or writing, I’m playing video games or Dungeons and Dragons.

Maya (Toolkits: Fiction): I love to read, and given the opportunity I would read all day. I don’t have any particular genre preferences, but I do enjoy rich character development and world building. I’m a sucker for anything Donna Tartt writes. Also I’ve recently gone too far down the rabbit hole with shoegaze and dreampop…the sub-genres of neo-psychedelia. These songs are great for switching off to and working on my art journal, which is another of my passions. And I just love to write; either short stories or poetry. So reading, writing, music, and art are my main interests. I also love exhausting myself on the netball court.

Cindy (Toolkits: Nonfiction): A non-exhaustive list includes: swimming in natural bodies of water, playing the bass, living vicariously through my Animal Crossing character, list-making, dancing, and giving up on crosswords.


What are you most looking forward to or most excited for about your Toolkits program?

Madi (Toolkits Graphic Narratives): I’m so excited to meet everyone involved with the Graphic Narratives Toolkits course. I think being able to interact and receive feedback from other like-minded individuals will really help me improve my work. I’m really looking forward to being able to develop and expand upon my graphic narrative story idea and see how it grows and changes with the help of this program.

Selina (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives):I’m really excited to have a generative space to discuss comics! I don’t know many people IRL who make or even read comics, so having a dedicated space to talk about them with other devotees is going to be such a joy. I can’t wait to see what kind of work everyone makes and how they go about it. I’m excited to get feedback from other comics artists and push myself to make more challenging work. I also feel super lucky to have an excuse to draw all the time over the next few months.

Mali (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m really excited to have a writing community to lean back on and talk about the responsibilities we hold as writers with. Having participated in Left to Write earlier in the year, what I loved most was having the opportunity to have these conversations!

Maki (Toolkits: Fiction): Meeting other young writers, sharing our work (both excited and slightly terrified about this part) and being mentored by Jennifer Down!

Phoebe (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m especially looking forward to the feedback and mentoring aspect of the program. I’m excited to work with Stephen Pham and to learn from him.

Bianca (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m so excited for all of it, but I think I’m most looking forward to connecting with other writers. Even after being part of the literary community for four years now, meeting other writers is still a novelty to me. I can’t wait to embark on this incredible opportunity and experience with other young writers, and constructively discuss each other’s work. (But working with Jennifer Down is also incredibly exciting!)

Maya (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m just so excited and honoured to be able to take part in the Toolkits program with Jennifer and the other participants. I can’t wait for the chance to learn from all the wealth of knowledge these wonderful writers have. It will be a steep learning curve for me, I think. 

Cindy (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m excited to learn and play with my fellow creatives in the Nonfic program! I find it really nourishing to be in communities of creatives where we can exchange ideas and care for each other through our processes, so I’m excited to be a part of a cohort again. My writing also really benefits from workshopping and having as many pairs of eyes over it as possible, so I’m looking forward to seeing how my work grows and changes throughout this process.


What are you currently working on/What do you want to work on in Toolkits?

Madi (Toolkits Graphic Narratives): I am currently just beginning work on my Honours exegesis at Griffith University. This directly links to what I aim to work on during my time in Toolkits, as I am bringing in the graphic narrative idea that I am working on for my Honours degree, into this program. I aim to use this program to gain feedback on the narrative and world I am currently working on, as it is still in really early development. Participating in Toolkits, will allow me to really get my story off the ground.

Selina (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): I’m always working on my observational skills so that my writing and drawing feel true to life. Comics legend Lynda Barry has this exercise where you keep a daily journal of things you see, do and overhear and then use that material to make a comic. Paying this close attention to daily life really makes for strong storytelling I think. I’d like to work on incorporating these details into longer, more complex narratives and comics essays. At the moment I have a lot of notes and ideas but I’m not always sure how to use them to form coherent stories. I’m keen to experiment and play with all that comics has to offer. 

Mali (Toolkits: Nonfiction): Right now I’m working on some speculative disability non-fiction I hope to develop more during Toolkits. I’m  interested in the way disabled people use imaginaries as both reprieve and activism – I really want to bring to light the specific contributions of disabled people in theories and practices of liberation.

Maki (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m currently working on a novel based off my own experiences of growing up in Australia and always being that girl with the weird name 

Phoebe (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m currently working on some experimental pieces, primarily about mental health. I plan to develop these works throughout the program, as well as possibly start working in some other nonfiction subgenres.

Bianca (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m always working on a YA (usually fantasy) novel, and my current project is about fairies in a rural Western Australian town. I’d love to learn how to develop it more as well as receive feedback on it, as it’s nearing the end of a draft. I’m also trying to develop my short story writing skills. I’m definitely getting better at writing them, but you never stop learning!

Maya (Toolkits: Fiction): Late night sessions are where I’m most creative, and at the moment I’m formulating ideas for a short story that involves forest creatures, foggy nights and Todd Hido’s house hunting photography. My ideas generally originate more around feelings, moods and songs rather than being character based or having an event to work around. This is where Toolkits will really benefit me, and help provide structure and methods for attempting more ambitious writing projects!

Cindy (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I love doing multiple things at a time and observing how they influence each other – I’m sporadically making my way through a work for performance and a screenplay, along with scraps of poems and essays that will hopefully one day materialise. In my Toolkits time, I want to explore more creative and experimental ways of approaching nonfiction, and play with the ways that I can research, document, and organise writing.

Now the absolute most important question…what’s your sign? 

Madi (Toolkits Graphic Narratives): I’m a Taurus! 

Selina (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): Libra sun, Leo moon, Gemini rising.

Mali (Toolkits: Nonfiction): Taurus sun, Gemini moon, Gemini rising! 

Maki (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m a Gemini baby

Phoebe (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m actually on the cusp of Virgo and Libra! I think I slightly lean more towards Virgo though…

Bianca (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m a Sagittarius!

Maya (Toolkits: Fiction): I’m a Taurus. I also have the same birthday as Queen Elizabeth II, Catherine the Great, Charlotte Bronte, and Robert Smith (not listed in order of importance!).

Cindy (Toolkits: Nonfiction): I’m a Sagittarius sun.


For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in right now!) visit our website.