Writer in Residence Program

The selection process was managed by a panel comprising Jessie Cole, Michael Burge (journalist and author of Tankwater) and Paul Shields,  short story writer and Creative Director of the Kyogle Readers and Writers Festival. 

Residence Recipient • Charlotte O’Neill

Kyogle Readers and Writers Festival is thrilled to announce Lismore local Charlotte O’Neill as its 2024 Writer in Residence. 

More than 60 emerging writers across regional NSW applied for the residency with Charlotte’s work standing out from the crowd. Mullumbimby-based author, Jessie Cole, one of the judges for the residency noted that “Charlotte’s writing is intuitive and engaging, deeply felt but also funny.”

Author Michael Burge, another of this year’s judges, noted “We were treated to a range of great reads across multiple genres. It was wonderful to read so much rural-inspired, solid work”.

Kyogle Readers and Writers Creative Director Paul Shields, also on the selection panel, was glowing in his appraisal — “Charlotte has a delicacy and thoughtfulness to her writing that makes me want to unpick the fragments of her narrative.”

Charlotte is analysing the representation of bushfires in Australian colonial fiction through her candidature as a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Newcastle. 

“As part of my course, I am writing a novel based on the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfire disaster, which had a horrific impact on parts of the Northern Rivers region. My work explores grief for things that are lost in the relationships between people and nature”. 

“Being the 2024 Kyogle Writer in Residence will enable me to have a couple of weeks of solitude where I can focus entirely on writing. I’m also looking forward to connecting with local creatives, and participating in the Kyogle Readers and Writers Festival”, Charlotte said. 

The residency, worth in total, $5000.00, includes two weeks of accommodation in the Kyogle region, living expenses and mentoring by Ms Cole.

Selection Panel

Jessie Cole

Jessie’s memoir, Staying, was released in 2018, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction & longlisted the Colin Roderick Award, with Tim Winton describing it as ‘a wounded, lovely, luminous book about grief, trauma and the strange healing potential of words.’

Her latest memoir, Desire, is out now.

Michael Burge

Michael Burge is a journalist and author. He is based at Deepwater in the NSW New England region. His debut novel Tank Water (MidnightSun Publishing) is a coming-of-age crime novel exploring the taboo subject of homophobia in rural Australia. He has written for Guardian Australia, Fairfax Media and The Journal of Australian Studies.

Paul Shields

Paul Shields is a writer living on unceded Gullibal Land. Paul is the current Creative Director of the Kyogle Writers Festival. His experimental work has appeared in Meanjin, Headland, Northerly and on ABC’s RN. He is currently undertaking a PhD at Griffith University, looking at the intersection of collage and experimental fiction.


2022’s residency was open to applications from Aborginal or Torres Strait Islander writers based anywhere in Australia. With submissions open to poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction.

Judges Grace Lucas-Pennington, Mirandi Riwoe and Merinda Dutton had a tough call on their hands, with all the calibre of applicants incredibly high. Gungarri writer and editor Nadia Johansen won them over with the quality of her writing.

Nadia will be joined us for a number of events at the festival ahead of engaging in the Writer in Residence program.

Kyogle Writers Festival thanks the judges for their time and due care, and to all of the applicants who trusted us with their work.

The Writer in Residence program was made possible through the support of the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund and Kyogle Council.

Residence Recipient • Nadia Johansen

I was ecstatic when I found out that I was named the Kyogle Writers Festival’s Writer in Residence. Like a lot of creatives, the stress and uncertainty of the past few years has left me exhausted and uninspired. I was finding it very difficult to write so I applied for the residency to help break out of my creative rut. Already I feel my creative spark coming back. The past few days I’ve woken up early in the morning with ideas for stories pouring out of my head (and I’ve been desperately trying to capture them before they disappear). Just knowing that I will soon have dedicated time and space to work on these ideas away from the stresses and responsibilities of my day-to-day life is helping me feel much more relaxed and inspired. During the residency, I’m hoping to develop several ideas into fully formed short stories then cajole those into a manuscript.

I’m glad that attending the Kyogle Writer’s Festival is a part of the residency. Exploring ideas with people interested in books and storytelling is a great way to get my own creativity flowing. Plus, Kyogle is a beautiful town built on gorgeous Country and I’m excited to explore that as well. Residencies like this are important for all writers but for me as an emerging writer this will help me to get more work out in the world and move forward with my writing journey. Thank you to the Kyogle Writer’s Festival for this support.