E. J. Corbett Mentorship


In honour of historical novelist, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, the HNSA is offering the chance for a previously unpublished author from Australia or New Zealand to receive a mentorship with Wendy J Dunn to develop a completed first draft of an unpublished historical fiction manuscript for young adults.

The next EJ Corbett Mentorship will be held in November 2023.

About Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Elizabeth Jane Corbett sadly passed away in January 2020. She was a talented author, dedicated member of the HNSA Committee, reviewer for the international Historical Novels Review, and a mainstay of our historical fiction community. She had a great love of Wales, and learned the Welsh language in order to research her books fully. Her debut young adult historical novel, The Tides Between, was named a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book for older readers. Liz described the book as ‘an historical coming-of-age novel about fairy tales and facing the truth. It explores themes of loss, trauma, and the power of myth.’

When Elizabeth Jane wasn’t writing, she worked as a librarian, and taught Welsh at the Melbourne Welsh Church. In 2009, her short-story, Beyond the Blackout Curtain, won the Bristol Short Story Prize. Another, Silent Night, was short listed for the Allan Marshall Short Story Award. She died suddenly in her beloved Wales at Stiwdio Maelor on a research trip for her next novel about the wife of Owain Glyn Dŵr – the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales.

Liz liked red shoes, dark chocolate, commuter cycling, and reading quirky, character driven novels set once-upon-a-time in lands far away.

Her advice to aspiring authors was: ‘It will be hard work and you may have to wrestle with confusion and self-doubt (even after you’ve won prizes and been published). So, focus on the journey and learning your craft. And remember, writing is the real magic.’

The HNSA Committee hopes the mentorship will keep the memory of Elizabeth Jane Corbett alive while providing the opportunity for an aspiring author to walk in her red shoes in writing a successful historical novel for young adults.

Alison Stegert Wins the 2020 E.J. Corbett Mentorship

The winner of the 2020 Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship for young adult fiction was Alison Stegert, for her novel The Remarkables.

Alison Stegert is a kidlit creator, freelance writer, and aspiring illustrator based in Queensland. Her travel adventures, love of languages, and keen interest in archetypes and personality theory weave through her writing. Ali draws on her graduate training in applied psychology and 12 years’ experience as a school counsellor to create intriguing characters whose strengths, flaws, and interesting triggers ring true-to-life.  

An enthusiastic creative community builder, Alison is the state director of SCBWI Queensland, the founder of the Sunshine Coast Writers’ Roundtable, and a passionate member of the kid-literary scene in her region. Her six manuscripts have garnered some interest with Australian and American publishing professionals, but so far there’ve been no offers. She was previously represented by a New York literary agent. 

The Remarkables won the 2021 The Times / Chicken House / IET 150 prize following on from winning the EJ Corbett Mentorship Contest.

For further information:

For further information, read our blog post: Winner Of The Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship Announced

About the Mentorship

The winner of the Mentorship will receive five mentoring sessions at times to be arranged between the winner and tutor. Wendy J Dunn will read and assess the novel in its entirety, then meet with the mentee via Zoom, initially for 1-2 hours, to discuss the winner’s inspiration and goals, and to identify ‘roadblocks’ requiring Wendy’s assistance. Wendy will provide in-depth feedback on plot, characterisation, pacing, dialogue, world building and effective use of research. A flash drive will be provided setting out her comments and notes. Four further one hour sessions will then be arranged to track process and provide encouragement and support.

The 2023 Mentorship Contest will held in November 2023. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear the details of how to enter.

Definition of Historical Fiction for Young Adults:

  1. A novel written at least 50 years after the events described (in 2020, this means the setting should be before 1970); or
  2. A novel written by someone who was not alive at the time of those events and who therefore approaches them only by research. (If the entire book is set more recently than 1970, the author’s age will be relevant to determine if the book is deemed to be historical fiction.)
  3. Historical sub-genres considered to be historical fiction include historical mystery, historical romance, and historical fantasy. Alternate history, pseudo histories, time-slip novels, multiple-time period novels, and parallel narrative novels are also considered historical fiction with flexibility to crossover between eras stretching from 50 years or more in the past until contemporary times.
  4. For the purposes of this contest, ‘young adult fiction’ is a novel written for a readership age group between 12-18 years old.

For more information email contact@hnsa.org.au.

About the Judges

Dr Wendy J Dunn 

Dr Wendy J Dunn is an author, playwright and poet. Obsessed by Tudor History since childhood, she has authored two Anne Boleyn novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel. Her third Tudor novel, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters, re-imagines the early years of Katherine of Aragon’s life.

Wendy gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2014. A long-time writing tutor and lecturer at Swinburne University, Wendy was also the founding Managing Editor of Backstory journal and Other Terrain, two writing journals belonging to Swinburne University.

Latest news & interviews


Join the HNSA Community

Our foundation partner

Our partner

Historical Novel Society

Our Sponsors

HNSA Newsletter Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter for interviews, reviews, news and more!