Our Story

About us

Sharing the Magic of Words

Hunter Valley Writers was founded in 2019 by Dr Karen Hughes in Maitland, an historic country town about two hours drive north of Sydney.

At our magical writing studio in High Street, we offer weekly creative writing workshops to local primary and high school kids. We also visit schools and community groups, and participate in local events and literary festivals. We are thrilled to be part of the vibrant arts community that is fast developing in Maitland.

Our story starts in early 2014

After working as a Canberra lawyer for many years, Karen moved to the Hunter Valley in 2014 with her husband Andrew and their four children. She published the first book in her Kalika Magic series, ‘Emerald Child’, in November of that year.

When Karen visited schools in the Hunter region to talk about her books, she met a wide variety of young readers who were keen to write their own stories. She began running weekly creative writing workshops from a small office in East Maitland and then moved into the beautiful High Street writing studio, complete with a secret garden and resident possums, that we have today.

During the Covid lockdowns, Karen developed the Young Authors Online Club, as well as our Advanced Weekly Zoom program. She now works as a full-time author and the director of Hunter Valley Writers, sharing her love of writing with kids all over Australia.

Creative Writing is more important than you think!

The skills you develop through a regular creative writing practice are just the beginning. Sure, you’ll have a better grasp of grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and your handwriting will probably improve, but creative writing offers so much more than that. You’ll develop your own unique voice, stimulate your imagination, and learn to express your ideas in exciting and original ways.

Explore the world around you by creating your own worlds. Develop empathy and compassion by imagining your own characters and following them into all kinds of wild and wonderful adventures. If you want to write well, you must observe the people around you and understand what makes them tick. What does your main character want? What will stop them getting it? Why do they act the way they do?

As you engage with your characters, you’ll find that you are drawing on your own emotions and ideas. You can use your creative writing to process all the crazy things that happen at school. Why is your friend ignoring you? How does that make you feel? Perhaps she is under the spell of a cruel witch. How will you break the spell?

There are so many possibilities. You’re the one holding the pen. See what happens when you dare to dream.

2019 NAPLAN review found many young people in Australia are reaching Year 9 without being able to write properly. 

Having the opportunity to practise writing strategies with the support of a dedicated teacher, and then independently, is critical for student success.

While education systems have prioritised teaching reading, far less attention and expertise has been directed to teaching writing, beyond perhaps spelling. 

Being able to write is important for future success. In 2019, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) characterised writing as a: “… foundational skill required for communication, future learning and full participation in economic, political and social life as well as in many aspects of daily life.”

The number of students below the national minimum standard is higher in regional and remote areas. 

Recent studies show that the sustainability of rural and regional communities in Australia depends on young people whose future is tied to these areas building high levels of literacy.

Explore Your Creativity and Develop Your Writing Skills

Join our vibrant community of young authors and get your stories published in a real book!