Allen & Unwin » Faber Writing Academy


Books by our alumni published after completing our courses

Writing a Novel 2011 graduate Joint-author Deborah Biancotti - Writing a Novel 2012 graduate Writing a Novel 2011 graduate
Writing a Novel 2012 graduate True Stories 2013 graduate True Stories 2013 graduate
True Stories 2013 graduate True Stories 2014 graduate Writing for Children 2013 graduate
Writing for Children 2013 graduate The Writers’ Workshop 2014 graduate Getting Published 2012 graduate
Get it Written 2012 graduate Getting Started 2014 graduate Getting Published as a Writer for Children 2012
Masterclass Picture Book Creators 2014 Getting Published as a Writer for Children 2015 graduate House of Lies
Writing a Novel 2015 graduate
Writing a Novel 2015 graduate Writing a Novel graduate 2012 Writing for Children graduate 2014

The Portrait of Molly Dean
by Katherine Kovacic


to be published in 2018 by Bonnier Australia

Message in a Sock
by Kaye Baillie

Coming soon

to be published by
MidnightSun Publishing

Getting Published 2012
Writing a Novel 2016 graduate Masterclass Picture Book Creators 2015 graduate

2nd book (debut novel)
by Michelle Wright


contracted by Allen & Unwin

  Writing a Novel 2015 graduate  








Allen & Unwin sign both our Scholarship Winners!

Allen & Unwin Publisher, Jane Palfreyman, has signed up both of Faber Writing Academy's 2015 scholarship winners, Pip Smith (Sydney) and Michelle Wright (Melbourne). The scholarship enables one Sydney and one Melbourne writer to complete Faber's Writing a Novel course for free.

Palfreyman, whose author list includes five Miles Franklin prize winners and the 2016 Stella Prize winner*, says

I'm thrilled to announce that we will be publishing a stunning debut novel by 2015 Faber Writing Academy Scholarship winner, Pip Smith. The book is called HALF-WILD and is one of the most exciting first novels I've read in a long time. It tells the amazing story of Eugenia Falleni, a true crime cause celebre that has fascinated people for nearly a century.

Last October, Palfreyman signed contracts with Michelle Wright (Melbourne) for her short story collection FINE (July) and a novel. Michelle was described by the judges for the 2015 Victorian Premier's Award for an unpublished manuscript as an 'assured and compelling storyteller; her ability to present a moment in time as a narrative complete in itself, has resulted in a strong collection of short stories set across Australia and Sri Lanka. The collection reveals the universal yet intensely personal nature of human experience.'

Other Faber Writing a Novel course graduates to gain publishing contracts, since finishing the course, are Debra Jopson for Oliver of the Levant (Vintage Australia), Caroline Beecham for Maggie's Kitchen (to be released by Allen & Unwin this August) and Jo Riccioni for The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store (Scribe).

Pip Smith writes about what she learned on the Sydney Writing a Novel course here.

Michelle Wright shares her experience of the Melbourne Writing a Novel course here.

Oliver of the Levant author thanks our tutors

2011 Writing a Novel graduate, Debra Jopson published her first novel with Vintage Australia in April 2016. She mentions Faber Writing Academy in the acknowledgements of Oliver of the Levant: 'My Faber Academy tutors James Bradley and Kathryn Heyman acted as true mentors, providing inspiration and helping me to purge some of the clunkiness from the first draft.'
Listen to Debra's interview about writing Oliver of the Levant on Radio National >

Our Tutors & Students at Sydney Writers Festival 2016

Faber Writing Academy tutors appear at these SWF events - click on their names to see the events:
Kathryn Heyman: Diving In - Discovering your Story
Toni Jordan: Plotting
Paddy O'Reilly: Back to the Future: Women Writers Then and Now
Paddy O'Reilly: Eccentrics, Oddballs and Misfits
James Bradley: Creating Worlds
Mireille Juchau: Life in the Hive
Mireille Juchau: Sound and Silence
Mireille Juchau: Secrets and Survival
Sally Rippin: Billie B. Brown's Mystery Club

Faber Writing Academy graduate events graduates appear at these SWF events:
Debra Jopson: Going Home: Belonging, Family and Food
Antonia Hayes (UK Faber Academy) and Kelly Doust both appear at Heart and Soul - Creating Characters that Matter
Jessica Rowe: Is This My Beautiful Life?
Juliette O'Brien: After Catastrophe
Aoife Clifford (UK Faber Academy): Rising Tension

Graduate hits the big time

Major publishers took part in a rights auction for a debut manuscript by Alexandra Joel, alumna of Patti Miller's True Stories 2014 course. Random House were the lucky winners who will publish Rosetta: A Scandalous True Story under the Vintage imprint on 31 March 2016.

Our 2016 Scholarship Winners announced!

Read the press release

Our graduate wins Richell Prize!

Heartfelt congratulations to alumna Sally Abbott, who completed our Melbourne Writing a Novel course in 2012. She has beaten off 975 other entries to win the inaugural Richell Prize! Hachette Australia will now work with Sally to develop her manuscript Closing Down with first option to consider the finished work for publication. She was also awarded $10,000 prize money which should buy her some extra time to write! For more information on Sally and the Richell Prize see The Guardian's article.

Our graduate hits NYT bestseller list!

YA trilogy ZEROES which is co-authored by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Writing a Novel 2011 graduate Deborah Biancotti is number 9 on the New York Times bestseller list! The book for ages 13+ is about six teenage mutant superheroes who reunite to thwart drug-pushing mobsters.
... Read more

How Faber Academy helped Antonia Hayes

Australian writer Antonia Hayes did the first ever Faber Academy course in Paris and then went on to do the Writing a Novel course in London. Her new book Relativity is just out. See this interview in Good Weekend magazine where she talks about the course.

Success for Writing a Novel graduates

Allen & Unwin is excited to be publishing ZEROES into the Australian and New Zealand market. This YA trilogy is a brilliant collaboration by three incredibly talented authors, one of which is a Faber Writing Academy graduate. ZEROES is a compelling superhero story with terrifically complex characters by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and 2012 Writing a Novel graduate, Deborah Biancotti. The first book - Zeroes - will be published simultaneously with Simon & Schuster in the US & UK in October 2015 and the sequels will follow in October 2016 and October 2017. 'ZEROES is without a doubt the coolest YA fiction I have read in some time.' - Eva Mills, Publishing Director, Children & Young Adults.

... read more

Student shortlisted for Victorian Premier's Literary Award!

Michelle Wright is our 2015 scholarship student completing our Writing a Novel course in Melbourne. Michelle's short story collection Fine was shortlisted for The Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript by an emerging Victorian writer. Well done Michelle.

Alumna snares two-book deal!

We're thrilled to report that alumna Kelly Doust has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins with the first title being published in May next year. Kelly blogs at

True Stories graduate makes TV

Jayne Newling found our True Stories course 'fantastic because it gave me confidence to continue'. Australian Story screened an episode about her family on Monday 13 April, 8.00pm.

Missing ChristopherTrue Stories Graduate chosen for Human Rights Literature Award

Jayne Newling's Missing Christopher has been awarded the 2014 Human Rights Commission Award for Literature. Jayne developed her manuscript on Patti Miller's True Stories course which starts in February every year.

In an interview with Megalong Books she explained how Faber Writing Academy's True Stories course helped her:

I had finished a first draft of the book and hated it. I shoved it in the drawer. When my son Nic, begged me to write about his brother Christopher I decided to give it another shot. I did the Faber course over a six month period and forced myself to finish it in that time. The course was fantastic because it gave me confidence to continue. All the writers in the group were encouraging and for the first time I started to believe what I had to say was worthwhile. -- Jayne Newling

For more information, click here

Please see here for the announcement

Ferris wheels in success

Fleur Ferris, a graduate of our Getting Published course, has a young adult novel coming out in July 2015 with Random House. Watch this space for further details. Fleur believes that the advice she received in the course helped secure her an agent, which in turn led to the book deal. Well done, Fleur.

Before I go to SleepFaber Academy alumna nails bestseller & film deal

SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep, did the inaugural Writing a Novel course in London and the film adaptation of his book (Before I Go to Sleep) screened in Australia earlier this year. How he achieved this is explored in an excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald's interview with him published on Saturday 18 October:
'It is now part of publishing folklore that the forum in which he did so was the inaugural Faber Academy "Writing a novel" course (a spot in the local edition of the full Faber course will set you back $6500)…His debut novel has been published in 42 languages, with sales now nudging the 5 million mark.
That's likely to prompt either heartbreak or inspiration in budding writers – as is the revelation that he got the idea for the story just weeks before the course started. He had originally planned to take in a novel he'd been working on, and struggling with, for a very long time but came to the conclusion that he would learn more by going in with a blank slate.
Watson was working in the National Health Service at the time, in audiology…and shortly before the course started he stumbled across the obituary of the celebrated Henry Gustav Molaison, known in scientific literature as HM. As a result of a brain operation to treat epilepsy when he was 27, HM was rendered incapable of creating new memories, but could otherwise function normally in most other respects.
Shortly after reading this, Watson caught sight of his own face in the mirror and began to wonder what it would feel like to not recognise it. And so the idea for his novel began to take root.
He wrote his first chapter on a Monday, and went into the course two days later. That was 2009. By the following year, he had an agent and a manuscript that was being circulated among British publishers. There was some interest, he says, "but we hadn't signed a deal, when I got an email from someone at Scott Free" – filmmaker Ridley Scott's production company. Somehow, they had got hold of a copy of his book, still in Microsoft Word format, and liked it enough to snap up the screen rights.'

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Kathryn HeymanHow to write a book

Listen to an interview with our wonderful tutor Kathryn Heyman on how to write a book:

Arnold ZableAn interview with Arnold Zable on the art of story

You've written memoir, fiction, columns, essays and plays, what have you learnt from using these different forms?
The craft of storytelling has a central role to play in all of those forms. Critical to this is an understanding of the true meaning of the word, imagination and its relation to the art of scene construction. The word imagination derives from the word 'image'. In other words, the act of imagining is the act of seeing, of hearing and so on. It is sensual. It draws upon the senses to create scenes. If the writer is fully present and alert to the story and to the scenes they are creating, then the reader will be present.

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Write your novel with desire

Sarah PriceWe've learnt about desire at the Faber Writing Academy: that crucial, profoundly human element is at the core of what we're doing when we write a novel. Guest tutor, Kathryn Heyman, enlightened the Writing a Novel class with her thoughts on the necessity of desire in our work. Characters must have a want, a thirst, a longing for something. Kathryn says that strong enough desire meeting strong enough resistance creates the best fiction. She told us to find the moment that defines what the protagonist wants. What does that moment look like?

... read more

The course gave me confidence to continue...

Missing Christopher by Jayne NewlingYou may already know about Jayne Newling through the major radio and press coverage about her book Missing Christopher. In her latest interview Jayne was asked about the role Faber Writing Academy played in completing her manuscript. This interview was conducted by Megalong Books, a bookshop in Leura, Blue Mountains which also sells books online.

Q. You wrote the book while undertaking the Faber Writing Academy True Stories course, can you briefly describe the course for us and had you written any part of the book previously or was it all written during the writing course?

A. I had finished a first draft of the book and hated it. I shoved it in the drawer. When my son Nic, begged me to write about his brother Christopher I decided to give it another shot. I did the Faber course over a six month period and forced myself to finish it in that time. The course was fantastic because it gave me confidence to continue. All the writers in the group were encouraging and for the first time I started to believe what I had to say was worthwhile.

For the full interview on the Megalong Books website, click here

Jayne Newling's ABC Radio interview with Richard Fidler

Public reviews of the book

Book website

I'm writing a novel with Faber Writing Academy. And it's getting messy

Sarah PriceMany years ago I was told by a YA author that there were two types of writers: settlers and pioneers. According to her, pioneers wrote the whole story from beginning to end without editing or revision. Settlers, on the other hand, wrote bit by bit and couldn't go forward without feeling that things were perfect. Righto, I decided, I'm a settler then, and off I went to write a book. My attempt at book writing involved years of word shuffling and chasing nice sounding sentences, and it left me wrecked with a sort of plot anxiety. What the hell was actually happening in my novel? Not enough, as it turned out.

... read more

What is your book about?

The Italians at Cleats Corner StoreJoanne Riccioni speaks about tackling this whilst doing our annual Writing a Novel course in 2011. She has now published her debut novel which has received excellent reviews.

'James Bradley, my course tutor, set my group the seemingly innocuous task of writing a blurb for our books. I had about 30 000 words of raw material at this stage, and while I thought I knew roughly what my novel was about, I laboured and laboured over that bloody blurb and synopsis. Of course, what the exercise was forcing me to do was pin down the book, boil it to its bones until I understood what it was really about.

'Writing the blurb also meant turning myself into the reader of my own book. Yes, I wanted to write this novel, but would I actually want to buy and read it? Some writers and writing teachers might find an exercise like this confronting or limiting at an early stage, but it was not supposed to be prescriptive. Of course our synopses could change. But what it did for me was give me something to fall back on during those vague early days when I'd go to the desk thinking, "I don't even know what this novel's about anymore." I'd get my little blurb and I'd say, yes I do, I know roughly what I'm aiming for, anyway. And I felt anchored to something real. As it turns out, my blurb changed very little from that early exercise as part of the Faber Academy.'

This is an excerpt from an interview with Jo Riccioni by Varuna, the Writers' House. Jo Riccioni is also an alumni of Varuna the Writers' House. For the full interview click here

Why choose Faber Academy?

Saving ZaliLisa Venables, author of the recent and successful memoir, Saving Zali, completed Faber Academy's Writing the Past courses and she is currently attending our Writing a Novel six-month intensive course.

'Faber Academy courses appeal to me because of the pedigree of the teachers and the publishing house, Allen and Unwin. I'm passionate about writing and wanted my manuscript to be of a quality I felt could be published or at least attract the attention of an agent. Creative writing is my passion but there are so many writing courses out there it was hard to choose which one would be right for me.

'During the Writing the Past course I met other writers who had the same interests as myself, I learnt how to access various databases, ethical considerations to take into account and the importance of perspective and issues relating to writing about a time period with values that are dissimilar to these modern times. We had the opportunity to do some exercises in class to cement in the techniques we were learning, and had a guided tour of the NSW Library with lessons on how to access their databases.

'As a result of doing this short course, I felt I had the strong basis to write my manuscript confidently and I was able to complete it fairly quickly. It's now waiting for consideration from a major publisher.'

In the desert, the excitement is intense

Clementine Bendle-ThompsonWell, we weren't in the desert, (I could tell that because of the trams) but there was still a sense of excitement as we all turned up for the second session of the six-month Writing a Novel course at the Allen and Unwin office in East Melbourne. This week was focused on all things tense and we had our first guest speaker, the inspiring Melbourne author Sophie Cunningham, writer of Geography, Bird and Melbourne.

... read more

'Clementine has the write stuff' - the Melbourne Times Weekly Review

Clementine is Writing a Novel with Faber Writing Academy

Clementine Bendle-ThompsonI am seriously running late. I decided to become an author at the wise old age of eight. I was living in Japan with my family for a few months and had recently discovered how much I loved reading, thanks to Enid Blyton, Elyne Mitchell, Noel Streatfeild, and of course, J.K. Rowling. I asked my mum for the age of the youngest author she could think of, and she told me twelve. I immediately set my sights on that goal.

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Growing Through Writing

Stephanie DowrickWriting is well known as one of the most satisfying means of self-expression but Stephanie Dowrick, one of Australia's most successful writers, says it can also bring a greater sense of liveliness, confidence and well-being to the whole of a writer's life. And this in turn, she says, "will bring an immediate improvement to whatever each writer hopes to create and achieve".

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Sarah Price, teacher, YA fiction writer, and Faber Writing Academy student

Sarah PriceThe Sydney winner of our inaugural Writing a Novel Scholarship, Sarah Price, was recently interviewed by Varuna, The Writer's House. She talks here about her background and the novel she is currently writing on our 2014 Writing a Novel course.

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On daring to write Heaven on Earth
Stephanie Dowrick- from Stephanie Dowrick, course director, The Writers' Workshop (Sydney)

I began my writing life in 1982 although I did not begin to take it seriously until 1983. My life as a publisher was looking terrific, at least from the outside: I was Managing Director (and Publisher) at the London publishing house, The Women's Press, which I had founded with essential financial backing from Palestinian-born, dashing man-about-London, Naim Attallah. On the inside, though, things were less glossy.

... read more

5 key things it takes to write a novel
Sophie Cunningham- from Sophie Cunningham, course director, Writing a Novel (Melbourne)

1. If you want to write a novel, you have to start by putting words down on the page. Not talk about writing, but actually write. Once you have words down you can sculpt something and work with them. You can begin.

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Getting started
Kathryn Heyman- from Kathryn Heyman, course director, Writing a Novel (Sydney)

You've always wanted to write a novel. Yet every time to sit down to write it, you are distracted by an overwhelming compulsion to clean the oven, phone your mother or feed the dog.

... read more

The role of curiosity
Patti Miller- from Patti Miller, course director, True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction

It is a curious way to spend one's days; writing memoir and helping others to write theirs. And I do mean curious. Memoir is, for me, the expression of an unending curiosity - a desire to know the texture of being in the world.

... read more


Patti Miller discusses True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction

Patti Miller: why True Stories: Writing Memoir and Narrative Non-Fiction is so valuable to students

More links > Being a Writer

Faber Academy UK > News & Features

The Allen & Unwin blog

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Kaye Baillie, who attended the 2015 Masterclass: Picture Book Writers course, has signed a contract with Midnight Sun Publishers in Adelaide for her picture book Message in a Sock.

Chloé Esposito, who gave up her job last summer to take the UK Faber Academy writing course, has now signed deals with publishers around the world for a trilogy of books, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.

The debut novel of alumna Kelly Doust, Precious Things (Harper Collins), was released in March 2016.

Aoife Clifford, who did Faber Academy (UK)'s Writing a Novel course had her debut novel, All These Perfect Strangers, published by Simon & Schuster in April 2016. Aoife appears at Sydney Writers' Festival 2016. She was interviewed about her book on Radio National.

Writers' Workshop 2014 course graduate, Juliette O'Brien, had her debut non-fiction book This is Gail, published by Harper Collins in February 2016. Juliette and her mother are appearing at the 2016 Sydney Writers Festival.

Writing a Novel 2012 graduate, Caroline Beecham has signed a contract with publisher Annette Barlow of Allen & Unwin for her novel Maggie's Kitchen which will be released in August 2016.

Journalist and television presenter, Jessica Rowe, completed our True Stories course with Patti Miller in 2013 and her memoir Is This My Beautiful Life was published in 2015. She is appearing at Sydney Writers' Festival 2016.

Melbourne graduate, Emma Viskic, had her debut novel, Resurrection Bay, published in September 2015 by Echo Publishing. Resurrection Bay was chosen by Readings Monthly to be one of only 10 books (internationally) included in the Best of 2015 Crime selection and by iBooks Australia as their Best Crime Novel for 2015.

Faber Academy (UK) graduate, Katie Khan, found success with her debut novel Hold Back the Stars which will be published in January 2017 by Transworld (UK) and Simon & Schuster (USA), followed by 19 other countries around the world.

2013 True Stories graduate, Rebecca Poulson, had her memoir, Killing Love, published by Simon & Schuster (2015). Rebecca says:
'Faber Writing Academy put me in the mind frame - for the first time in my writing journey - that this was a job I needed to prioritise. I needed to turn up for class once a week and to complete a number of chapters. I am single mum with 3 children - at the time of the Faber course all aged under 4. I carved out small bubbles of time in which to write amidst the chaos and restraints of my life. I carved them out because I had to! I knew the next class was coming up and I had 'homework'. As each week passed my writing gained momentum and, after 6 months, I had a very rough but completed manuscript of around 100,000 words. Patti Miller is an amazing and experienced teacher and my words were gently guided when needed. Thank you Faber Writing Academy.'

Shelly Unwin, who did our Editing Fundamentals course with Annette Barlow in 2014, is having her first picture book series published by Allen & Unwin in 2017.

Congratulations to Jo Riccioni, graduate of the 2011 Writing a Novel course, whose book The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store has been released and is garnering great reviews! The Sydney Morning Herald says 'This may be Jo Riccioni's debut but it has all the hallmarks of an accomplished and assured novelist.'
... read the rest of the review

See what Time Out had to say about our Melbourne courses!

Transworld is to publish a debut psychological thriller by UK Faber Academy alumnus Renee Knight, after winning an auction against "substantial" bids from six other major UK publishers - find out more

Davina Bell, a graduate of our Writing for Children course, published a picture book earlier this year with Scribe. . The Underwater Fancydress Parade will be illustrated by Allison Copoys and it's part of a two-book deal. Well done Davina!

Jill Lever's first book The worm who knew karate, illustrated by Terry Denton, will be published by Penguin in 2015.
Jill did our Writing for Children course in Melbourne this year and says the book was created during the picture book workshop she did with Sally Rippin as part of the course. Congratulations Jill!

...more student news & testimonials

Books loved by our Writers' Workshop students

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