5 Up-And-Coming Writers You Probably Don’t Know About But Definitely Should

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When it comes to masters of the written word, it’s easy to think of classics you studied in school or authors who top bestseller lists. But some of Australia’s young people belong in that category, too: those playwrights, novelists, screenwriters or journalists who are telling necessary stories or expanding our imaginations.

The work from these five Aussie writers is essential reading. Some of their stuff you’ll have already seen. Some of it you’ll be discovering for the first time. Though they work across different areas of the same field, all of them have one thing in common: they know their way around words.

Corrie Chen

Corrie Chen is an Australian filmmaker whose work has been screened all over the world. Her output is diverse, spanning from comedy to documentaries, and includes both film and television.

Often occupying the role of both writer and director, the list of awards and nominations she’s accumulated is, frankly, almost ridiculous – 19 in ten years, including Best Short Film at the International Chinese Film Festival for Wonder Boy and Best Direction in a Documentary at the Australian Director’s Guild Awards for Reg Makes Contact. In 2016, she received funding from Screen Australia, which will allow her to develop her first feature film, Arrivals, a drama-meets-comedy that follows the journey of an Australian woman who travels to China to locate her long-lost father.

Royce Kurmelovs

Photo: Royce Kurmelovs/Hachette

From talking death threats with a former Big Brother contestant to gaining insights into the inequality of the housing market from a seasoned squatter, investigative journalist Royce Kurmelovs’ work is varied but shares one important thread – a willingness to completely immerse himself in research.

Kurmelovs got his grounding by studying law and journalism, then set about getting as much real-world experience as possible. Specialising in long-form work, he quickly accumulated writing credits around the world before taking things one step further and writing a book. The Death of Holden: The End of An Australian Dream was released in 2016 and highlights the stories of those who were most impacted by the car manufacturer’s demise.

Kate Mulvany

Photo: Kate Mulvany/Bell Shakespeare

It’s hard to imagine that actress and playwright Kate Mulvany has any time to sleep – she’s prolific in her work. Her stage adaptation of Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones has toured the country, and this year she both adapted and starred in the hugely popular Bell Shakespeare production of Richard 3, a role that earned her the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Play.

Over the course of her career as both a writer and a performer, Mulvany has been quietly enriching the world of performing arts – a contribution that has recently been recognised with Mulvany’s alma mater, Curtin University, awarding her an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Liam Pieper

It’s unusual to release three books in just three years – it’s even more unusual to release three books of three different genres and categories. Liam Pieper is an author and a journalist who has, to date, released a memoir (The Feel-Good Hit Of The Year), a book of essays (Mistakes Were Made), and an award-winning novel (The Toymaker), while also working as a freelance writer.

Whether he is taking aim at his own history or building a new story around historical fact, Pieper does not shy away from complex characters or challenging social commentary, drawing upon the blend of social work, psychology, literature and journalism he studied at university to create work that always manages to be both insightful and darkly humorous.

Abigail Ulman

As a fiction writer, Abigail Ulman’s command of storytelling is readily apparent in every line of her work. She studied Creative Arts and has been the recipient of multiple fellowships, including the prestigious Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, and in 2015 released her debut book, a collection of short stories entitled Hot Little Hands.

There’s a deceptive simplicity to short stories – a misperception that because they’re short, they must be easier to write than novels. Hot Little Hands, however, demonstrates definitively that this isn’t true. From a chance weekend encounter with a teacher to a haunting tale about teenage gymnasts, each of the nine stories in the book could stand alone, but put together they are even more powerful.

Feature image: Kate Mulvany/Bell Shakespeare

Curtin University offers degrees in communications and media, perfect for budding writers. Find out more here.