Mentorship Program


The AHWA Mentor Program will open for applications on Friday 27 May 2022.

Please note: We are now offering free mentorships to AHWA members with concessions. Read on for details.

The program provides the opportunity to work closely with our highly qualified mentors on an approved project. Successful applicants will be matched for a three- month period of one-on-one development and guidance to develop and progress their accepted work. Applicants must be an existing AHWA Member or become one on our Membership page before applying for the program.

Applications will close at midnight on Friday 27 May 2022. To apply, download the Application Form here. Please ensure you DOWNLOAD the form, fill it in, and send it in.

The form includes information on submission requirements and the program fee for successful applicants ($175.00).

Please read the Program Guidelines below for an outline of the program and send us your best work!

The AHWA Mentor Programme offers AHWA members the opportunity to learn more about their craft and improve their skills by working one-on-one with a mentor for a set period. The things a mentee can learn in a mentorship beyond craft and critique range from pitching a story idea, drafting a novel or publishing an e-book, depending on the available mentors in the program. Mentoring is a two-way learning experience, benefitting both parties in a variety of ways. The benefits can be personal: for the mentor, the ability to pay it forward, or for the mentee, a bolstering of confidence, or getting a piece of work to a higher standard. There are many benefits, and each mentorship will experience different things.
The greatest gifts an experienced industry professional can give (as a mentor) is their time and expertise – to share the things they have learned. A mentee will get the most benefit from the program by carefully considering feedback, communicating in a timely fashion, completing any exercises set, and respecting the Mentor’s time by not making excessive demands. The more a mentee puts into their mentorship, the more they will learn. Details of the mentors and the mentorships available are listed at the end of this document.

Program Details
All information submitted to the mentorship convenor is confidential and will only be used to match mentees with mentors in the AHWA Mentor Programme

The programme is only open to financial members of the AHWA; committee members are eligible to apply. Application is free.

* The cost to the Mentee is $175.00.  The AHWA uses member funds to add a further $125 to this in order to pay the mentor an honorarium of $300 for their time and effort. This is not a paid position for the mentor; the honorarium payment is not representative of an hourly rate and is only a token payment.
* Once the mentorship is confirmed, payments will be received/made through PayPal.

* Concession Mentorships: The AHWA is offering 2 free mentorships for members without financial solvency. Any applicant will need to be a paid up member of the AHWA, but the mentorship fee will be met by the Association. These two places are open to anyone on a low income: students, disability, etc. We will need to sight your concession card or similar (in full confidence, of course).

Application process
* Mentees can only apply for the programme during the open period.
* Mentees can apply for the AHWA Mentor Programme by filling in an application form, and where specified, by also providing a sample of their writing, artwork, or other details as requested.
* Once submissions are closed, the reading period will take approximately four weeks.
* This programme has limited places, and not all applications will be successful. Applicants are encouraged to reapply in the following years’ programmes.
* At the conclusion of the reading period, the mentors will advise the convenor of selections, and mentees will be contacted with offers.
* If an applicant declines, the mentor will choose another mentee who will be offered the mentorship.
* Submission requirements for successful applicants will vary depending on available mentors.

* Once all offers are accepted, the Mentorship Convenor will advise the successful applicant how to pay via PayPal.
* Once the payment of $175.00 is confirmed (or Concession place agreed), the convenor will introduce the mentor to the mentee, and the mentorship will commence.
* Payment will be made to the mentor at the beginning of the programme.

How does the mentorship work?

Experienced professionals can act as mentors in several ways. They can offer encouragement, advice and guidance, helping a mentee to improve their craft. Or, they can offer advice in general, perhaps on how to pitch a project to a publisher, finding the right market or how to write a query letter. Sometimes they can offer a little of both things. The mentorship is only for a limited amount of time, so it helps if the mentee is very clear on what they would like to work on. Participation in the programme does not guarantee a mentee’s work will be accepted for publication.

Midway check-in
The programme convenor will check in with both the mentor and mentee to see how things are going around the midway point. At this check-in point, the mentor will be sent a mentee evaluation, ready to start compiling for the programme’s close.

When the mentorship is complete
* At completion, the mentor will be asked to write a short evaluation for the mentee, and the mentee will be asked to provide a testimonial about their experience for the AHWA to use for promotion purposes.
* A feedback request will also be sent to both parties.

A note for the mentee
A Mentor is not a teacher. They won’t correct or mark work, but they will give feedback to help you improve your craft. A mentor guides you towards your goal, but it will be up to you to get there. Time is limited so it is useful to have specific questions or areas you wish to work on in mind. If there is something niggling you about your writing, make sure this is one of the first things you ask.

Contact us
If you have any queries or concerns about any aspect of the programme, please contact the convenor at

2022 Mentors

shayne Shayne Armstrong is an award-winning screenwriter and script consultant. With his screenwriting partner, SP Krause, Shayne has written the horror features ACOLYTES, BAIT 3D and Blumhouse’s THE DARKNESS. Several of his projects are currently in development including the sci-fi/horror audio drama CRASH COVER for Audible, the horror TV series NOW WE SLEEP for NBC/Universal and the supernatural thriller THEO: A HAUNTING and the dark
thriller HARD COVER with producer Kristian Moliere (THE BABADOOK, WAKE IN FRIGHT, WOLF CREEK 3). He has won the John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Screenwriting twice. He is also a script assessor and consultant for Screen Queensland and Screen Territory, teaches screenwriting at several universities and is a Board Member of the Australian Writers Guild.

Area of mentoring: Screenwriting (long or short form) in the darker genre realms of horror, sci-fi, crime or thriller with any hybridisation of genres welcome.

Shayne is interested in mentoring short and feature film scripts.


eugen bacon - casual-1EUGEN M. BACON is an African Australian author of several novels and collections. Her recent books Ivory’s Story, Danged Black Thing and Saving Shadows are finalists in the BSFA Awards. Eugen was announced in the honor list of the 2022 Otherwise Fellowships. She has won or been commended in international awards, including the Aurealis Award, Foreword Indies, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Horror Writers Association Diversity Grant, Otherwise, Rhysling, Australian Shadows, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Eugen’s creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, Fantasy, F&SF, Bloomsbury and Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. Her book releases in 2022: Mage of Fools (Meerkat Press), Chasing Whispers (Raw Dog Screaming Press) and An Earnest Blackness (Anti-Oedipus Press). Visit her website at and Twitter feed at @EugenBacon

Area of mentoring: Short/Flash Fiction, Editing. I am especially interested in working with people of colour, ethnic minority groups or those who write about ‘othering’ – engaging with whichever form of difference, but all are welcome! The right mentor/mentee relationship is one of partnership and mutual respect.

silviaSILVIA CANTON RODONI is a Spanish-born Australian poet, writer, and visual artist who identifies as neurodivergent and LGBTIQA+. She signed her poetry collection Stark Naked with IFWG Australia and is currently curating a poetry anthology with the themes of hope and resilience during COVID. Experienced editor and literary translator, Silvia runs Telltale Literary Translation from her home-office in Canberra, where she lives with award-winning New Zealand writer Paul Mannering and her bulldog Patch.


Area of mentoring: Poetry collection curation and poetry anthology editing process.


PaulMannering-1PAUL MANNERING is the author of over a dozen novels, with several more in development with various publishers.

He is the executive director and co-founder of BrokenSea Audio Productions, an international group that has been producing full cast audio drama for podcast for over 10 years.

Paul is the editor of FAT ZOMBIE, the anthology of unlikely survivors of the apocalypse for Permuted Press. He was the lead editor on the 13th issue of Midnight Echo, the magazine of the AHWA. He has written and edited hundreds of audio drama scripts, short stories and the occasional paper on

project management.


Twitter @paul_mannering

Area of mentoring: Novel/Novella, Short/Flash fiction, editing. Anything in the speculative fiction range. Horror, sci-fi, weird fantasy. Cosmic horror, zombies, supernatural, body horror, psychological thrillers, you write it, I’ll be there.

danDAN RABARTS (Ngati Porou) is an award-winning author and editor, living in Porirua, Aotearoa, four-time recipient of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award and three-time winner of the Australian Shadows Award.

His short stories have been published worldwide, and he is the author of the steampunk-grimdark-comic fantasy series Children of Bane (Brothers of the Knife, Sons of the Curse, Sisters of Spindrift, Daughters of Dust).

Together with Lee Murray, he co-wrote the Path of Ra crime-noir thriller series (Hounds of the Underworld, Teeth of the Wolf, Blood of the Sun) and co-edited the anthologies Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror and At The Edge.

Area of mentoring: Novella, short/flash fiction, editing. Dark fantasy, steampunk/dieselpunk, crime noir; Last year I worked with a writer who was working on her first longer form piece (novella) after having published some short stories, and this was a good progression point to develop her skills in this area.

Deborah Sheldon 2020 extra smallDEBORAH SHELDON is an award-winning author, anthology editor and medical writer from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum of horror, crime and noir. Her latest works are Man-Beast (Severed Press) and Liminal Spaces: Horror Stories (IFWG). Fiction awards include the Australian Shadows ‘Best Collected Work’ for Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, and ‘Best Edited Work’ for Midnight Echo 14. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Aurealis and Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker, and included in ‘best of’ anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, non-fiction books and stage plays.

Area of mentoring: Novel/Novella, short fiction/flash fiction. No particular preference, but I like to help writers who lack confidence and need a cheerleader.

J. Ashley Smith-1J. ASHLEY-SMITH is a British–Australian author of dark speculative fiction and co-host of the Let The Cat In podcast. His first book, The Attic Tragedy, won the Shirley Jackson Award. His stories have been shortlisted twice for the Australian Shadows Awards and seven times for Aurealis Awards, winning both Best Horror and Best Fantasy. His novella, Ariadne, I Love You, is available now from Meerkat Press. The short story collection The Measure of Sorrow is due for release in 2023.

Area of mentoring: Preference is for short fiction up to novelette length, but will consider novellas and novels (at a stretch) if the project is right.

I’m particularly interested in character-led/character-rich stories, and real-world settings with speculative/supernatural elements. I’m open to most genres, but particularly quiet horror and weird fiction. Not interested in sci fi or extreme horror.

I’m interested in helping mentees bring characters to life, making stories tight and compelling, and keeping the heart of the story (and characters) in focus to build emotional resonance. I’m interested in story structure, finding the voice of your story, building reader interest and engagement with story dynamics, and connecting with the deepest, most hidden parts of yourself to generate meaningful ideas.

In terms of the mentor/mentee relationship, I’d like to connect with mentees who have a clear idea of what they want to improve or get out of the mentorship, and to work closely with them to achieve that.

Shane-Walsh-Smith-headshot-855x1024-1SHANE WALSH-SMITH is an award-winning Australian graphic novelist and screenwriter who works across a broad spectrum of genre fiction. His books (written under his pen name Shane W Smith) have been shortlisted for awards a total of seven times, including twice for the fan-favourite Undad.

His TV scripts placed in more than fifty contests in 2020-2021, including nine wins.

Shane has a Bachelor degree in Creative Writing, and might be the only person in the world to get a comic published in a refereed academic journal. You can follow his writing misadventures on social media or at

Area of mentoring: Screenwriting feature/short. I’ve worked across a range of creative media, including graphic novels, and TV/feature screenwriting, and love working with genre projects – not just horror, but a wide range of speculative fiction.

As a writer and a consumer, I gravitate towards horror with a strong subtext, whether the creature/killer/scare represents everyday challenges faced by everyday people. I love drawing out theme and meaning from writing, and would love to assist a writer to bring their chosen theme to the fore in their writing.


The mentorship program has been a big part of some big things that have been happening. Getting mentored by Kaaron has been phenomenal. To have someone of her calibre pulling my work apart has been an absolute privilege, and more than that, by the end of the process to have her tell me that things I have written are good and most of what she’s read just needs tweaking… it makes it all worth it. I’ve been working on this story for around four years now, and in a few hours of Kaaron’s time, she’s set it on the path I’ve always wanted it to be on. And it’s now had written interest for adaptation from a producer that I suspect any horror writer in Australia would love to have interest from.” – Bernie Rutkay

“My AHWA mentorship with Greg Chapman was a rewarding and invaluable experience. Greg’s patience, encouragement, and advice helped me to develop one of my short stories into a novella.  As a writer, I often struggle with seeing the little problems with my work, however, Greg was able to shine a light on them, and guided me towards the right direction. He helped me understand my characters and the world in which they live. He dispelled those niggling thoughts of not feeling like a good enough writer and gave me confidence in my own ability. While I still have a long way to go with the novella, Greg’s assistance helped me figure out the bones of my story, and why I started writing it in the first place. I managed to write 21,000 words out of a planned 25,000! Highly recommended!” – Claire Fitzpatrick

“While I’ve taught writing courses before, the AHWA Mentorship Program has been my most satisfying experience. I enjoyed an intense, fun, and organic twelve-weeks with my mentee, the talented Geneve Flynn. Together, we dug into her stories, dissected them, and built them up again. Exploring and explaining the craft of writing in such detail reminded me why I can’t stop playing with words: it’s brain candy. I very much hope to participate in future programs.” – Deborah Sheldon

“The AHWA writing mentorship with Deborah Sheldon has been an invaluable experience. In ten years of studying writing and editing craft, I don’t think I’ve improved as swiftly or as markedly as during those four months of intensive learning. Deb helped me to see the gaps as well as the strengths in my writing and has helped me to approach my process from different angles, reviving my enthusiasm and confidence in becoming the writer I always dreamt I would be. Deb was an utter delight to work with, bringing humour, years of experience and a no-nonsense work ethic to this crazy profession. I highly recommend applying for an AHWA mentorship to any writer looking to raise their writing to the next level.” – Geneve Flynn

“It was a pleasure to work with Dominique Davidson, providing an AWHA mentorship of her middle grade manuscript, Resting Earth. Using Skype, email, and a system of manuscript annotation and line-editing, Dominque fully revised the work, and it is now ready to go out, with her query letter prepared, and a list of potential publishers for her to submit to established. Dominique was fully committed to the process and extremely hard working. She was highly professional in her approach, considering my critique with an open mind, checking out links and sites I suggested for further training, and implementing those new techniques in her narrative. Obviously, we both did a lot more than the 10-15 hours of work allocated by the program! The end result is a highly engaging, spooky little middle grade tale, slightly darker than a Goosebumps story and with a wonderfully creepy sense of place. I’m excited to watch Dominique’s writing career progress as a result of this AHWA mentorship jump-start. She thoroughly deserves every success.” – Lee Murray

“For me, the opportunity to be mentored by award-winning Australian author Kaaron Warren was worth every penny. For Kaaron to read my story, offer great feedback, tips, and encouragement, was simply priceless and has increased my confidence no end. I aim to complete the novel with Kaaron’s guidance at the forefront of my mind. Thanks Kaaron, and the AHWA for the opportunity!” ‒ Steve Dillon

“Participating in the 2017 AHWA Mentorship Program was a wonderful opportunity and I can’t thank the generosity of my Mentor, Lee Murray, enough. There are so many ways that the mentorship encouraged me and made me feel that I could write and my story was worthwhile. I would encourage anyone who wants to write to apply. I’d completed my Professional Writing Diploma, but my writing lacked polish and style. I was good but not great and not really sure how to go about improving my work to a publishable standard. The Mentorship Program provided an affordable alternative to embarking on another course and in retrospect provided me and my story with individual focused attention that no course can provide. The opportunity to workshop my creation, have an experienced writer read, comment, re-read and comment was invaluable. Lee’s advice and guidance was priceless. I rewrote much of my 20,000 words over the three-month period, but my story was all the stronger for this. Lee was amazing, she gently provided constructive comments which enabled me to progress and improve my writing and consequently the story. The experience was invaluable and will stand me in good stead for the future. I feel truly blessed to have had this experience.” – Dominique Davison

The AHWA’s Mentor Program has become the backbone of my writing career. I can attribute all my publication successes and my recent Australian Shadows Award win directly to the lessons I learned from my mentor. I joined the Program back in 2012, at a time when I was very much the novice—I’d dabbled in stories for years, but had only recently begun taking the craft seriously. I was, however, failing to complete work and struggling to find my voice as a writer. Joining the Mentor Program, I thought, would both force me to write to deadlines and allow me to maybe learn from one of the Australian horror élite. It was the best career decision I ever made. As with many new writers, I was afraid of failure—of my work being judged as tripe, of being exposed as an upstart who jokingly thought he had talent. I needn’t have worried. Kaaron Warren, one of the stalwarts of Australian Horror, was the most nurturing of mentors. She saw potential in my work and helped mould two of my short stories into pieces of which I am still immensely proud. My craft improved immeasurably in the short time I was with the Program. And as a result of the work we did, I achieved my first two story sales in the years following. My mentor taught me how to trust my instinct, listen to my inner voice and take chances with my stories. But most importantly, she showed me that I was capable. Without her, I think I would still be floundering in the quagmire of incomplete drafts and utterly lacking in self-confidence. If you want to write good horror, join the Mentor Program. If you want to make a lasting mark on the genre, join the Mentor Program. If you want to learn career changing lessons from the best authors in the industry, join the Mentor Program. And if all you want to do is finish a story and know that you can do it too, join the Mentor Program. ‒ Matthew Morrison, 2018 Shadows Award winner