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Emma Pignatiello



Date of Success:

Emma is a writer living on Wadjuk land of the Beelier Noongar people in WA. 

She was one of the recipients of the Affirm Press Mentorship Award in 2020 for her YA fantasy manuscript The Bone Painter . As part of the 4 Centres Emerging Writers Program she has been working on her adult mystery novel If One of Us is Dead while writing Last Shot; the first book in her romantic suspense series set in the Margaret River wine region. 

Her flash fiction story ‘The Killer is at the Funeral’ was published in the Three Can Keep a Secret anthology by Night Parrot Press in 2022. 

Boringly, she has a BA (Law & Society) from the University of Western Australia but managed to sneak in as many creative writing units as she could. 

By day, she is an English and Forensics high school teacher - instructing teenagers on where to place their commas and how to cover up murders. Both these skills she applies to her writing.


Every year I’ve attended the CYA conference I’ve learned something new. Whether it was valuable industry or craft information from the experienced presenters or useful feedback on competition entries, since I first discovered it in 2020 – the conference has always been a highlight of my year. 

In 2022, after entering the competition in 2020 and 2021 with different manuscripts in the YA and Middle Grade space, I decided to have a go with an adult manuscript I’d written earlier in the year and loved writing but hadn’t really considered it as having publication potential – I’d just written it because it was a story I felt like I HAD to tell. So I put it in for the adult genres competition and, because it wasn’t like anything I’d written before, I felt I needed some honest feedback on the idea, the start and the synopsis so I decided to book a manuscript assessment for the first time. 

To my complete surprise, the manuscript, Last Shot ended up being shortlisted for the adult genres category – I’d never been shortlisted for anything before. 

On the day of the assessment I was incredibly nervous but that quickly turned to shock when Danielle Binks from the Jacinta Di Mase agency asked to see the Last Shot full manuscript. A week or so later, at conference time, my shock grew when Last Shot ended up winning its category. 

But the ultimate, mother of all shocks came when Danielle told me she had loved Last Shot and offered representation. To be completely honest, it still doesn’t seem real. 

I will always be eternally grateful to Tina and the rest of the CYA team for the incredible conference they put together every year. I can honestly say without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without the CYA conference.

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