2021 Faber Writing Scholarship Winners for Writing a Novel

The Faber Writing Academy is delighted to announce the recipients of our 2021 Writing a Novel scholarships.

I am thrilled that the Faber Writing Academy has been able to award five outstanding writers a scholarship into our program for 2021. The quality of applicants this year was incredibly high, leading to a competitive and exciting field of candidates. We were also delighted to offer dedicated positions for two First Nations authors and for a writer who hoping to work on a novel with environmental themes.   

I would like to sincerely thank our special guest judges this year James Bradley and Ellen van Neervenwho had the difficult job of deciding the winners. I would also like to thank our dedicated and hardworking team of Writing a Novel tutors who read applications and assisted us in this processEmily Bitto, Sophie Cunningham, Kathryn Heyman, Margo Lanagan, Kristina Olsson and Carrie Tiffany.  

We look forward to welcoming all five recipients into the Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin next year and connecting them with our fantastic teachers and fellow students.  

Sam Twyford-Moore 
Faber Writing Academy Manager


Faber Writing Scholarships for Writing a Novel

As a young Muslim woman, Sawsan Alfayadh sought refuge in Australia when she was just 6 years old. Her identity was politicised from a very young age. This led her to start volunteering at RISE Refugee while still in high school, to help shape the conversation around the issues that impacted her life.

In her subsequent work as both a community organiser and digital campaigner at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Islamic Council of Victoria and Environment Victoria (among others), she has supported others to elevate their own voices on the issues that affect their daily lives.

She is currently working on a novel about the journey of Iraqi matriarchs to resettle in Melbourne and heal from the traumas following decades of war. Through this scholarship and writing program, Sawsan looks forward to exploring how she can tell her community’s stories in an accessible and compelling way.


Jane O’Sullivan has written widely about Australian art for magazines and newspapers, and her short stories have appeared online on Going Down Swinging, Mascara and Meniscus

She is really excited about the chance to learn from some amazing teachers and to join a community of other writers. She’s hoping the scholarship will help her think through shape and structure, and develop the skills to plan a longer work. 


Faber Writing Scholarship for an Ecologically Themed Novel

Magdalena McGuire was born in Poland, grew up in the tropics of Northern Australia and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and young children. Magdalena’s creative writing explores issues relating motherhood, belonging, and social and environmental justice.

Her short stories have been published in The Big Issue, Island Magazine, Mslexia and elsewhere. She has a background in human rights and now works in healthcare as a plain language communication specialist.

After surviving the highs and lows of an extended lockdown with a toddler and a baby, Magdalena is excited about getting the opportunity to study with the Faber Writing Academy. She particularly wants to develop her skills in using fiction as means to explore contemporary social and environmental issues. She’s also keen to develop a supportive writing community.


Faber Writing Scholarships for First Nations Writers

Brooke Scobie is a queer Goorie single mum, emerging writer, radio host on Radio Skid Row 88.9FM, and dedicated community worker.

She was born and bred on Bidjigal Country in South West Sydney and now lives on Darkinjung land.  Brooke is most passionate about telling stories that centre Blak identities, queer love, family, and unpacking big issues that affect our communities and countries. 

Brooke’s hope for this scholarship is to be supported on her journey, creating stories for all the weird First Nations kids out there that need to see themselves in fantastical stories of joy and adventure.


Jeanine Leane belongs to the Wiradjuri people of the Murrumbidgee river near Gundagai She is a poet, novelist, and essayists. Jeanine teaches Creative Writing and First Nations Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.

This scholarship will allow her me to bring to publication a new story, Kambera that emerges from the experience of the 1980s urban Aboriginal mob. It is told through the character of young Wiradjuri woman Honey, who moves to the national capital at the start of the decade.

Honey’s professional life is disrupted by the choices and characters she encounters, ultimately sparking a furtive journey to the dark underbelly of the city. The story embodies the pithy humour of the urban Aboriginal mob and the bravura of young women staying two steps ahead of authorities and villains in this analogue age. Kambera captures the hubris of 1980s Australia as it swaggers and staggers towards the 90s.


Applications for Writing a Novel are now open.

First round applications close 30 November 2020.

Sydney: Writing a Novel with Kathryn Heyman and Margo Lanagan

Melbourne: Writing a Novel with Sophie Cunningham and Emily Bitto

Brisbane: Writing a Novel with Kristina Olsson and Guests

Online: Writing a Novel with Carrie Tiffany and Guests