Mentorship Program



The AHWA is pleased to announce the mentees for its Mentorship Program 2018.

Successful mentees (in no particular order) are:

Ronnie Smart Ronnie will be working with mentor Kaaron Warren on a short story project.

Bernie Rutkay Bernie will be working with mentor Kaaron Warren on a YA novella.

Alister Hodge Alister will be working on an action horror novel with mentor Al Baxter.

Natalie Satakovski Natalie will be working with mentor Deb Sheldon on a quiet horror short story project.

In addition, Helen Stubbs and Isobel Blackthorn will be working with mentor Paul Mannering to co-edit the next issue of Midnight Echo. Both Isobel and Helen were selected last year with their mentorships intended to be carried out this year.

The association received a good number of high-quality applications, with projects covering a range of subgenres including quiet horror, monster horror, body horror and YA, and in a range of formats from short fiction through to novel. However, with only a limited number of mentorship opportunities on offer, places were highly contested.

The association would like to thank our mentors Deb Sheldon, Kaaron Warren, Al Baxter, and Paul Mannering for the generous donation of their time and expertise. The AHWA could not run this important program without their dedication and support. Special thanks to Paul and Kaaron for allowing us to expand the programme by working with two mentees.

The Mentorship Program runs from now until the end of the year.


The AHWA Mentor Program 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.

The program

All information submitted to the Mentorship Convenor is confidential and will only be used to match mentees with mentors in the AHWA Mentor Program.


The program 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 program during the open period.
  • Mentees can apply for the AHWA Mentor Program 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 program has limited places, and not all applications will be successful. Applicants are encouraged to reapply in the following years’ programs.
  • 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 program.

How does the mentorship work?

Experienced professionals, whether they are writers, artists, publishers or poets, 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 program does not guarantee a mentee’s work will be accepted for publication.

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.

Midway check-in

The program 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 program’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.

Contact us

If you have any queries or concerns about any aspect of the program, please contact the convenor, Lee Murray leekiwi [at] gmail [dot] com

2018 Mentors

ALAN BAXTER is a British-Australian author who writes supernatural thrillers and urban horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dogs. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dogs and cat. He’s the multi-award-winning author of several novels and over seventy short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Alan is interested in novel, novella or short fiction projects in horror, dark fantasy, crime and noir.


DEBORAH SHELDON is a professional writer from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum of crime, noir and horror. Her latest releases, through several publishing houses, include the dark fantasy and horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (winner of the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017”), the dark literary collection 300 Degree Days and Other Stories, the bio-horror novella Thylacines, and the monster horror novel Devil Dragon. Upcoming titles include the noir-horror novel Contrition in September 2018, and a retrospective dark fiction collection in 2019. Her short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Island, Quadrant, Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Midnight Echo. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous Aurealis Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing.  Visit Deb at

Deb is interested in novel, novella or short fiction projects in horror, dark fiction, crime and noir.

KAARON WARREN published her first short story in 1993 and has had stories in print every year since. Her stories have appeared in Australia, the US, China, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, and have been selected for both Ellen Datlow’s and Paula Guran’s Best of the Year Anthologies. Kaaron has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She has published four novels (Slights, Walking the Tree, Mistification,and The Grief Hole) and six short story collections, including the multi-award winning Through Splintered Walls. Her next short story collection is A Primer to Kaaron Warren from Dark Moon Books. Her novella “Sky” from that collection won the Shirley Jackson Award and was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. It went on to win all three of the Australian genre awards, while The Grief Hole did the same thing in 2017. She has stories upcoming in Ellen Datlow’s “Mad Hatter’s and March Hares”, “Looming Low” from Dim Shores, Nate Pederson’s “Sisterhood”, Cemetery Dance’s Dark Screams series, and “Bitter”, a novella, from Cemetery Dance. Kaaron was a Fellow at the Museum for Australian Democracy, where she researched prime ministers, artists and serial killers. In 2018 she will be Established Artist in Residence at Katharine Susannah Prichard House in Western Australia. She’s taught workshops in haunted asylums, old morgues and second hand clothing shops and she’s mentored several writers through a number of programs. She will be Guest of Honour at the World Fantasy Convention in 2018, New Zealand’s Geysercon in 2019, and Stokercon 2019. You can find her at

Kaaron is interested in novel, novella and short fiction projects in horror and dark fiction.


2018 Testimonials:

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. So right now, I’m knuckling down and rewriting the other two-thirds of it. – Bernie Rutkay

Past mentee experiences

“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