Mentorship Program


Applications for the 2020 AHWA Mentor Program are now closed. The AHWA would like to thank all of the applicants to the 2020 Mentorship Program. We are pleased to state that the following Members provided strong applications and have been accepted into the program with their individual works:

  • Georgina Ballantine, who will be working on her novelette with Kaaron Warren.
  • Cem Bilici, who will be furthering his webseries with Heidi Lee Douglas.
  • John Paul Fitch, who will be developing short stories with Alan Baxter.
  • Rose Michael, who will be fine-tuning her novel with Alan Baxter.
  • Ian J. Middleton, who will be working on two books with Paul Mannering.
  • Bronwyn Todd, who will be honing her novel with Deborah Sheldon.
  • Louise Zedda-Sampson, who will be refining her short stories with Kaaron Warren.

The AHWA would like to thank Alan Baxter, Paul Mannering, Deborah Sheldon, and Kaaron Warren for their return to mentoring roles. We would also like to express sincere gratitude to new mentor Heidi Lee Douglas, and to Megan Riakos for her involvement in the program this year.

The 2020 AHWA Mentorship Program runs for three months.

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 before applying for the program.


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 can 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; $150.00 is forwarded to the Mentor as an honorarium, and $25.00 goes to the AHWA as an administration fee. 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.

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 Covenor will advise the successful applicant how to pay via PayPal.
  • Once the payment of $175.00 is confirmed, 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

2020 Mentors

ALAN BAXTER is a British-Australian multi-award-winning author of horror, supernatural thrillers, and dark fantasy. He’s also a martial arts expert, a whiskey-soaked swear monkey, and a dog lover. He creates dark, weird stories among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, where he lives with his wife, son, and hound. The author of nearly twenty books including novels, novellas, and two short story collections, so far, you can find him online at or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook. Feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Alan is interested in mentoring flash, short, novella or novel projects.

HEIDI LEE DOUGLAS is an award-winning Australian Writer/Director whose work often explores female leadership, and is especially inspired by folk tales where the secret powers of landscape unlock a character’s transformation. Heidi’s eco-horror short Devil Woman premiered at Fantasia International Film Festival, was officially selected for Fright Fest, Morbido and BIFAN, and went on to be nominated for numerous awards and will soon be publicly launched on Alter. Her gothic thriller short Little Lamb spent four years on the film festival circuit after premiering at Fantastic Fest. Little Lamb picked up awards for Best Film, Best Production Design, Best Script and Best Thriller amongst others; was selected for the US anthology feature 7 from Etheria, and now features on Omeleto. Heidi’s colonial thriller feature script Unnatural Conduct was shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, a Semi-Finalist Gateway LA Script Development Program and Quarter-Finalist in the ScreenCraft Action/Thriller Screenplay Competition.

Heidi is interested in mentoring short or feature film scripts.

PAUL MANNERING is the New Zealand author of over a dozen novels, including the award-winning Drakeforth series. Paul recently relocated to Canberra, Australia, where he now lives under an assumed identity as a functional adult.

Paul is interested in mentoring flash, short, novella or novel prose, or podcast/audio drama or graphic novel scripts.

MEGAN RIAKOS is the writer/director of the thriller feature Crushed, creator of Australia’s first female horror anthology Dark Whispers and the writer/director of Ep2 of the upcoming Deadhouse Dark horror series. She compliments her filmmaking with her role as co-founder of the Not-For-Profit organisation Women in Film & Television Australia and merges these two fields of creativity and advocacy via Hemlock & Cedar Films, her production company that focuses on female-led screen content. Megan is an innovative, collaborative and confident speaker, mentor, teacher and advocate with an infectious enthusiasm for the art and craft of filmmaking.

Megan is interested in mentoring short and feature film scripts.

DEBORAH SHELDON is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum. Recent titles include the novels Body Farm Z and Devil Dragon, novella Thylacines, and collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories. Upcoming is her anthology Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies. Her work has been shortlisted for Aurealis and Australian Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, and award-winning medical writing. Visit at

Deb is interested in mentoring flash, short, novella or novel projects.

KAARON WARREN Shirley Jackson award-winner Kaaron Warren published her first short story in 1993 and has had fiction in print every year since. She was recently given the Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award and was Guest of Honour at World Fantasy 2018, Stokercon 2019 and Geysercon 2019. Kaaron was a Fellow at the Museum for Australian Democracy, where she researched prime ministers, artists and serial killers.

She has published five multi-award winning novels (Slights, Walking the Tree, Mistification, The Grief Hole and Tide of Stone) and seven short story collections, including the multi-award winning Through Splintered Walls. She has won the ACT Writers and Publishers Award four times and twice been awarded the Canberra Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Her most recent novella is Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Press).

Kaaron is interested in mentoring up to 10,000 words of a novella or novel.



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