TWZ Team

Kate Fagan – Project Director 

Kate Fagan is the Project Director of The Writing Zone and the Director of the Writing & Society Research Centre. She is an award-winning poet and songwriter whose third book First Light (Giramondo) was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Literary award and the Age Book of the Year Award. She is a former editor-in-chief of How2, the US-based online journal of contemporary poetics. Her album Diamond Wheel won the National Film and Sound Archive Award for Folk Recording and she supported Joan Baez on her 2013 tour of Australia/NZ. Kate teaches in WSU’s literary studies and creative writing programs.

Catriona Menzies-Pike – Publishing Director 

Catriona Menzies-Pike has been the editor of the Sydney Review of Books since 2015, working with Australia’s best critics and writers, both emerging and established, to develop essays and reviews that have been read internationally, won prizes, been translated, anthologised and widely discussed. She’s worked in online media since 2008, including stints at the pioneering news site New Matilda and as arts editor of The Conversation. Her essays and reviews have been broadly published and her non-fiction book The Long Run was published in 2016. She served as a judge for several literary awards and a peer assessor for the Australia Council and the Copyright Agency.

Melinda Jewell – Program Advisor 

Melinda Jewell is the Program Advisor for The Writing Zone. She has worked for a decade in the Writing & Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University as the postgraduate advisor, during with time she has steered the Centre’s Postgraduate Writing Group. She has also worked as a thesis editor and as a research assistant on a number of W&SRC projects, including one on world literature and another on the benefits of people living in retirement homes participating in creative writing workshops. In her spare time, she loves reading fiction of any kind and gardening.

Ellen O’Brien – Program Officer 2022 

Ellen O’Brien (she/her) is the 2022 Program Officer for The Writing Zone and a junior editor at the Sydney Review of Books. Ellen is a Garigal/Walkeloa writer living on Gadigal land. She has had prose and poetry published in Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, OverlandRabbitCordite and un Magazine and was previously a facilitator for the Feminist Killjoys Reading Group.

Christina Donoghue – Program Officer 2021 

Christina Donoghue is the 2021 Program Officer for The Writing Zone and a junior editor at the Sydney Review of Books. She is the Associate Producer at WestWords and the founder of Writing Black Australia, an online platform for the amplification of Black Australian Literary Work. A graduate of the UOW Creative Writing Program, her area of research is in framing the African diasporic voice of contemporary Australian literature. The TWZ logo was designed by Chris Donoghue, using a brushstroke image by Jade Nelson.

Ilhan Abdi – Program Officer 2020 

Ilhan Abdi was the 2020 Program Officer of The Writing Zone, and has worked as a junior editor for the Sydney Review of Books. She is also a writer, researcher, freelancer, artist and archivist. Her archival research and artwork is mainly focused on Somali music from the 20th century, although her interest also extends to music and art in all periods of Somali history. She is a former Youth Vice President of FBi Radio’s Management Committee and has worked as FBi’s volunteer co-ordinator, and she edited TWZ’s inaugural publication Sky Conversations.

Alice Desmond – Web Officer

Alice Desmond produced the website for The Writing Zone. She is the digital editor at Sydney Review of Books and manages digital initiatives for Giramondo Publishing. She has worked in varied roles at cultural organisations including the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia and Kaldor Public Art Projects, specialising in curation, archive research, publishing, and digital access.


Mentoring is a crucial aspect of all creative practice. The Writing Zone begins from a seed idea that culturally appropriate mentoring is one of the most powerful ways to support young and emerging writers. We have been fortunate to partner in The Writing Zone with some of Australia’s leading authors, who provide 1-to-1 mentoring for each TWZ writer. Our mentors offer guidance, give supportive feedback on writing drafts, and participate in the Writing Circle and publication launch events. They share stories about their own creative practice and are role models in diverse aspects of career development. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of all TWZ mentors.

Donna Abela is an award-winning playwright who has written over 30 original and adapted stage plays for youth, community, independent and mainstream theatre companies, as well as radio plays for the ABC and Eastside Radio. She is a founding member of PYT | Fairfield (formerly Powerhouse Youth Theatre).

Andrew Navin Brooks is a writer, artist and academic who is one half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate and a former Deputy Editor of the Sydney Review of Books. His research is organised around three main projects: the politics of noise and listening, infrastructural inequalities, and the politics of race and embodiment in media culture.

Eileen Chong is a poet and essayist whose books include Burning Rice (2012), Peony (2014), Painting Red Orchids (2016) and Rainforest (2018). Her most recent collection is A Thousand Crimson Blooms, published in 2021 by UQP. She has been shortlisted for numerous national awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian essayist and researcher whose writing explores class, race and diaspora. In 2020-2021 she was the UTS Library Creative in Residence alongside her collaborators in the all-women arts organisation The Finishing School Collective. Her debut non-fiction collection will be published in 2022 by NewSouth Publishing.

George Haddad is an award-winning author and artist whose work explores masculinities and the limitations of language in communicating truths. His forthcoming novel Losing Face will be published by UQP in 2022. Haddad is currently a doctoral candidate and sessional tutor in the Writing and Society Research Centre (WSU).

Mireille Juchau writes fiction, criticism, essays and reviews. Her third novel, The World Without Us, was published by Bloomsbury internationally and won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. In 2020 she won the Walkley-Pascall Prize for her arts criticism in The New Yorker and The Monthly. Mireille was formerly fiction editor of HEAT Magazine and completed a PhD in the Writing and Society Research Centre (WSU).

Melina Marchetta is an internationally eminent novelist, screenwriter and YA/children’s author whose adored and much-awarded novel Looking For Alibrandi (1992) has been shown in film version around the world. She also authored Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road, and her first fantasy novel The Gorgon the Gully was published in 2008.

Fiona McGregor is a Sydney author and performance artist who writes fiction, essays and reviews. She published seven books, most recently Buried not Dead (Giramondo, 2021), a collection of essays focused on Sydney’s queer performance culture going back 30 years. Fiona’s latest novel, Indelible Ink, won the Age Book of the Year Award.

Suneeta Peres da Costa was born on Gadigal Country to parents of Goan heritage. Her most recent novella Saudade (Giramondo, 2019) was shortlisted for the 2019 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the 2020 Adelaide Festival of Literature Awards, and was a finalist in the 2020 Tournament of Books (USA). An earlier novel, Homework, was published internationally by Bloomsbury and shortlisted for the Nita Dobbie Literary Award.

Sheila Ngọc Phạm is a writer, editor, producer and scholar working across radio, print, online and screen. In 2021 she was shortlisted for the Walkley Pascall Prize for Arts Criticism, the Hazel Rowley Biography Fellowship, the David TK Wong Fellowship and the Jesse Cox Audio Fellowship. Sheila is a contributing editor of, a project of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network and a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

We are also grateful to Caitlin Chang and Sarah Malik (SBS Voices), Ivor Indyk, Aleesha Paz and Lucia Tường Vy Nguyễn (Giramondo Publishing), Felicity Castagna and Sheila Ngọc Phạm (The Finishing School Collective), Jinghua Qian, and Eunice Andrada, who have run group mentoring workshops for The Writing Zone.

Photo taken at Second City book launch, WSU Parramatta City Campus, May 2021 Back: Martyn Reyes, Ivor Indyk, Kim Pham, Catriona Menzies-Pike Front: Kate Fagan, Ilhan Abdi, Sophiya Sharma, Melinda Jewell.
© Sally Tsoutas, WSU Office of Marketing and Communication