Current Fellows

Congratulations to this year’s fellows – Kathryn Apel (Qld), Catherine Bateson (Vic), Sherryl Clark (Vic), Kelly Gardiner (Vic), Julie Hunt (Tas), Tania McCartney (NSW), Amelia Mellor (Vic), Natalie Jane Prior (Qld), Helen Thurloe (NSW).
This wonderful group of creators will be working on an inspiring range of genres, including pushing the boundaries of infographics, exploring the meeting point between chapter and picture books, and experimenting with story cycles. They will also be unpacking some of the most compelling and complex themes from past and present, from sensory disorders to political rebellion, from women's place in war to forced child marriage and arms-smuggling.

The Adelaide-based fellows are Kathryn Apel, Sherryl Clark, Tania McCartney, Amelia Mellor and Helen Thurloe.

Kathryn Apel is an author of poetry, picture books and verse novels. She uses poetry to flex her writing muscles across other genres, bending (and sometimes breaking) writing rules. More recently, Kathryn has achieved acclaim as a verse novelist, dealing with emotive issues such as bullying, sibling rivalry, self-doubt, and the intricate balance of friendships. During her fellowship, Kathryn will work on three projects. The first is a middle-grade verse novel, Tall Story (working title) about friends who are growing apart due to differences. It explores self-esteem and self-worth, and Kathryn aims to use her creative time to ‘unpack the story, and immerse myself in my characters; to flesh out their backgrounds and personalities more, walk in their skin, and therefore write them authentically.’ Kathryn’s second project explores classroom dynamics through the eyes of a Year One student witnessing her friend undergo behavioural changes and sensitivities. Finally, Kathryn will develop Pictures with Words (working title), creating a collection of poems to engage young readers and writers with visual and accessible poems that incorporate all the best literary devices in a fun and creative read.

Sherryl Clark is a multi-award-winning writer of over 70 published children’s and YA books. She has also recently submitted her PhD in creative writing. Sherryl will use her creative time to research and draft a new mythical/historical novel set in England in the first century AD. This is inspired by part of Sherryl’'s PhD research into fairy tales. She has long been interested in the story of Boudicca and her rebellion against the Romans, as well as the life of the Romans who lived in England at that time. Sherryl’'s novel will be a dual narrative focusing on one of Boudicca's daughters and another character (as yet undecided). Having written a number of historical novels, Sherryl is well prepared to devote her fellowship to detailed research and focused concentration on sustaining the world of the novel for this huge and immersive project.

Tania McCartney has almost three decades’ worth of publishing experience, and has written and/or illustrated over 30 books, collecting a host of awards along the way. Tania says that, If she could, she 'would live inside a book, and as an author, illustrator and editor, she kind of already does.' The first project Tania will be living inside during her Creative Time Residency is Mamie, a picture book about the life of May Gibbs (to be published by HarperCollins). Clearly there could not be a more fitting project for an MGCLT fellowship! She aims to hone her skills in combining text with illustrations in unique and fresh ways. She will also work on KID: An Infographic Book of Childhood, a picture book feature graphic design-style illustrations and infographics. Tania is a strong believer in the power of visual literacy and its positive impact on modern children, particularly those who struggle with text literacy and comprehension issues. She also plans to spend time on junior fiction works—a genre she has long desired to move into.

Amelia is the second Ian Wilson Memorial Fellow. This new fellowship was created by the Trust to honour our founding Chair, the late Honourable Ian Wilson AM, and to give one emerging author or illustrator creative time away from home. Amelia will use the time and space provided by the fellowship to work on her historical fantasy The Grandest Bookshop in the World. Aimed at upper primary children, the narrative is inspired by the Cole’s Arcade, a legend of 1890s Melbourne. The story explores this magical location through the eyes of two of Edward Cole’s children, as they are drawn into an adventure to rescue their father from the nefarious “Shadowsmith”. The Ian Wilson Memorial Fellowship also includes professional development for Amelia, with the full support of three practitioners and stalwarts of the Trust – Nan Halliday, Elizabeth Hutchins and Julie Wells. Between them, Nan, Elizabeth and Julie have considerable experience in writing, literary agencies, schools, libraries and local professional networks for people writing and illustrating for young readers.
Helen is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and essays. Her debut novel, Promising Azra, was published by Allen & Unwin as a Young Adult title in 2016, and was subsequently shortlisted for a 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. The story explores the issue of forced child marriage in contemporary Australia, through the eyes of a fictional schoolgirl, Azra Ajmal. Azra is a sixteen-year-old with a particular talent for science, whose life is derailed when she learns she is about to be married to a cousin overseas. Set in an Australian high school, Promising Azra explores its complex subject in a realistic and accessible way. In her time as a 2018 May Gibbs Creative Time Fellow, Helen intends to progress the research and writing of a sequel.
Kelly Gardiner and Natalie Jane Prior will be travelling to Canberra.

Kelly writes historical fiction for readers of all ages. Her latest novel is 1917: Australia’s Great War, recently shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s History Prize. She teaches creative writing at La Trobe University and is the co-host of Unladylike, a podcast about women and writing. Kelly will use her creative time to research, draft and revise a Young Adult novel that is unlike anything she has written before. Roar is based on the true story of a safari tour company that smuggled guns and grenades into Apartheid-era South Africa by exploiting young travellers from Australia and New Zealand. The protagonist is Lizzie, one of many young Australians living in London in the 1980s. Roar is designed as a literary thriller about one young woman who signs on for an adventure and discovers more about herself and the world than she ever imagined possible. 

Natalie is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her work includes the classic picture book The Paw and its sequels (illustrated by Terry Denton), and the internationally successful fantasy series Lily Quench, which has well over half a million copies in print. Natalie's books have won the Aurealis Award and the Davitt Awards, and have been Honour, shortlisted and Notable Books in the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards.Natalie has collaborated many times with Sydney-based illustrator, Cheryl Orsini, most recently on the picture book PomPom and story books The Fairy Dancers and The Tales of Mrs Mancini. Natalie will use Canberra as a base to meet with Cheryl so they can spend one week working together intensively, providing the opportunity 'to produce something really extraordinary'. Natalie will also work on new picture books and story book characters. She plans to experiment with different formats, such as hybrid chapter books with full colour illustrations, with a view to bridging the gap between picture books and independent reading.

Enjoying creative time in Brisbane will be Catherine Bateson and Julie Hunt.

Catherine is a children’s and YA poet and writer with three collections of poetry published, and over a dozen books. She has twice won the CBC Book of the Year Award, Younger Writers, as well as receiving CBC Honours awards in multiple categories. Catherine will spend her fellowship researching and drafting the Brisbane-set part of a YA novel set during World War Two. Leo’s War is based on Catherine’s mother’s experiences during her youth, and is the story of Leo (Leonora), an only child living with her mother while her war correspondent father is abroad. The novel explores Leo’s coming-of-age as well as the changing nature of women’s roles, marriage and romance in the context of a transforming and transformed world. Catherine will use primary and secondary research materials to provide her novel with an authentic and authoritative backdrop, making the most of the Fryer Library and State Library’s resources. She aims to use her research to inform a solid first draft of the Brisbane component of Leo’s War. Catherine will be documenting her progress on her Project Blog, which is already active here:

Julie is a writer of stories that combine poetic imagining, folktale and down-to-earth humour. Her books have won and been shortlisted for many awards, and her picture book, The Coat (illustrated by Ron Books), won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award in 2013. Julie will use her creative time  to work on Sylvie and the House of Fabio Sham, an adventure fantasy novel for 8–12 year olds. As well as this, Julie aims to venture into new territory – a story cycle for young adults. She is not quite sure what a story cycle is but hopes to find out by writing one. This collection of linked stories will contain overlapping characters and a shared world in which everyday reality and the supernatural meet.’

Everyone at the Trust wishes our 2018 fellows all the best for productive and enjoyable fellowships!

2018 Fellows (L to R):

Kathryn Apel (Qld), Catherine Bateson (Vic), Sherryl Clark (Vic), Kelly Gardiner (Vic), Julie Hunt (Tas), Tania McCartney (NSW), Amelia Mellor (Vic), Natalie Jane Prior (Qld), Helen Thurloe (NSW)