About the Mentors

KYD offers a unique, comprehensive and structured editorial mentorship program designed to support early-career writers. Writers across Australia can apply to work with these experienced, award-winning writers, editors and teachers, with valuable insights into both the publishing industry and the creative regime required to craft a long-form manuscript.

Applications for February-June 2021 mentorships are now closed.


Emily Bitto

Genre: adult fiction, short stories, essays, creative non-fiction

I’ve been working as a creative writing teacher and mentor for over a decade. I’ve taught in undergraduate creative writing courses at Melbourne University, Victoria University and RMIT; I’ve supervised Honours and Masters students in creative writing; I’ve taught workshops at Writers Victoria and Writers NSW; and I’ve provided manuscript assessment services and mentorships for individual writers. In my view, the most beneficial way of helping a writer develop their project and their writing skills is to work with them over time, in order to gain a deep understanding of their unique voice, their strengths and weaknesses, and the particular project they are working on. I love the process of getting to know writers and their work, understanding their aims and intentions, helping them progress and refine their projects, and assisting them in getting their writing out into the world. I’m thrilled to be part of this fantastic mentorship program from KYD.

Emily Bitto is an award-winning Melbourne based writer of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, written as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The published novel went on to win the prestigious Stella Prize in 2015. It was also shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, the NSW Premier’s Prize for New Writing, and the Dobbie Literary Award, and was longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC prize. The Strays has been published in the U.S. (Twelve Books), UK (Legend Press) and Canada (Penguin), and has been optioned for a television adaptation by See Pictures. Emily’s fiction, poetry and non-fiction has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Island, the Age, the Saturday Paper, the Big Issue, and The Sydney Morning Herald.  In 2018 she was a recipient of a six month Australia Council International Residency in the B.R. Whiting Studio in Rome, where she completed the draft of her second novel, which will be published in 2021. Emily has taught creative writing since 2013 and is currently a tutor at the Faber Writing Academy. She also co-owns Carlton wine-bar Heartattack and Vine.

Melanie Cheng

Genre: adult fiction, short stories

All I ever wanted, when I was an emerging writer, was a mentor. Someone other than a friend or family member, who would read my work with a critical eye. I had no experience of the publishing world, and my first encounters were awkward and clumsy. Thankfully, with the help of writing colleagues, I eventually got by, and along the way I accumulated a wealth of knowledge that I am now ready and eager to pass on. It would give me great pleasure to guide a fellow writer through the exciting, traumatic, joyful and frustrating process of writing a manuscript.

Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner based in Melbourne. Her debut short story collection, Australia Day, won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her debut novel, Room for a Stranger was shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and longlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Award. Her non-fiction has been published in The Guardian, The Age, The Weekend Australian, SBS Online, Meanjin, The Griffith Review and Overland, among others.

Sophie Cunningham

Genre: creative non-fiction, adult literary fiction, essays, nature writing, memoir

There are three main reasons why I like doing mentoring work. One is that it’s good to get a sense of what other people are writing — it’s always inspiring. The second is that as well as the pleasure of feeling that you might have something to offer to a colleague, being made to articulate what it is to be a writer, and offering my perspective on how to write, has the added bonus of improving my own work. The third is that I firmly believe that people have the skills they need to be a good writer — the key issue is developing confidence in those skills.

Sophie Cunningham is a former publisher and editor and an award-winning writer. She is the author of five books, the most recent of which is City of Trees: Essays on Life, Death and the Need for a Forest (2019). She is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University in the School Media and Communication in the College of Design and Social Context.

Leanne Hall

Genre: middle-grade, young adult

I really love having in-depth conversations with writers about their stories: characters, structure, setting, voice and the expression of big ideas and unique perspectives. But I also think that mentoring isn’t solely about offering feedback on the writing; it can also be about sharing personal experiences of the publishing industry and talking about the practicalities of being a writer.

Leanne Hall is an author of young adult and children’s fiction. Her debut novel, This Is Shyness, won the Text Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Writing, and was followed by a sequel, Queen of the Night. Her novel for younger readers, Iris and the Tiger, won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature at the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Leanne works as a children’s and YA specialist at the independent bookshop Readings.

Sarah Krasnostein

Genres: narrative non-fiction, longform journalism, essay, memoir, history, biography

Writing is inherently solitary but it should not be isolating. We are – all of us – looking for the map and I find that discussing our work with others helps us have the conversations with ourselves, and with our material, that move our work forward. My best teachers not only taught me how to think about the process and the craft of writing, but how to trust my judgment. It is an honour to be able to do this for others while learning about the world through the prism of their own projects.

Sarah Krasnostein is a writer and a lawyer with a doctorate in criminal law. She is the best-selling author of The Trauma Cleaner which won the Victorian Prize for Literature, the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Non-Fiction, the Australian Book Industry Award for General Non-Fiction, the Dobbie Literary Award, jointly won the Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and was shortlisted for the National Biography Award, the Melbourne Prize for Literature and the Wellcome Book Prize (UK). Her new book, The Believer, will be released in early 2021. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications in Australia, the UK and America including  The Monthly, the Saturday Paper, and Longreads as well as various academic journals.

Peter Polites

Genre: fiction, genre fiction, auto-fiction and memoir, all with a particular interest in how class structures weave themselves in the imagination of gender, race and sexuality

Listening to each other is the most beautiful aspect of the editing relationship. When two people are attuned to each other’s voices they can mutually work together to bring out the unique qualities of the text. At its core, the editing relationship must be founded on mutual trust and an environment of safety – this allows the writer to expose their vulnerabilities. I’m looking forward to doing editorial work again, for me it’s less about the technicalities of writing but making sure intention is accurately realised.

Peter Polites has written two novels, Down the Hume and The Pillars. He is the winner of the 2020 Premier’s Multicultural NSW Award and the 2020 Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Fiction. His fiction and essays have appeared in Meanjin, Overland and Sydney Review of Books.


Find out how to apply for the KYD Mentors Program 2021 here.

Previous mentors include Danielle Binks, Claire G. Coleman, Carly Findlay, Ruby Hamad, Leanne Hall, Benjamin Law, Bri Lee, Jennifer Mills, Heather Rose, Graeme Simsion, Rebecca Starford and Fiona Wright.

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