Writer-in-Residence Program
The Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence program is intended to:


Provide an emerging children’s writer with the financial support and office space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults.


Encourage the imagination of young readers, and in so doing draw attention to the importance of authors and the essential role they perform in nurturing developing minds and furthering our culture.


Promote the awareness of the Boston Public Library and its resources, by establishing a living link between Library and the community.

Apply to be our next Writer-in-Residence!

Check back here in early 2020 for the application and program guidelines.

What do fellowship recipients get?

  • $20,000 stipend
  • Private office space at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.
  • Completed manuscript is added to the BPL’s collection.
  • Opportunity to publicly present your manuscript at a fall reading.

What are the requirements?

  • The recipient must work for a minimum of 19 hours per week during the nine-month residency, which runs from October through June.
  • Eligible projects may be fiction, non-fiction, a graphic novel, script, or poetry intended for children or young adults.
  • Applicants must be able to legally work in the US.
  • Since this program is intended for emerging authors, applicants should not have already published any books.

2019–2020 Writer-in-Residence


Shawnna Thomas

Sixteenth Writer-in-Residence

We are delighted to extend a warm welcome to Shawnna Thomas, our sixteenth Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence. 

Among a pool of very talented candidates, Shawnna was selected in a blind-judging process by a panel of judges—including authors, editors, a literary agent, bookseller, librarian and a professor of children's literature—based on her standout submission, Salvagers.

Set three years after a Great Flood destabilizes the Divided States, Salvagers follows teen survivors Onyx and Andre as they reluctantly team up to rescue their siblings from a high-security, government-funded orphanage.

“Onyx's story started as an exercise and grew from a reflection on who gets to tell and read stories about girls like her,” Thomas said of her selection. “Learning that someone believes in and cares about her story enough to give me the support, funding, and room of my own to fully realize it sent my soul soaring. I am eternally grateful to the Associates of the Boston Public Library for this opportunity and cannot wait to share more of her journey.”

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Shawnna received her B.A. in English and African American Studies from Yale University in 2015. She is a previous recipient of the Elmore A. Willetts Prize for Fiction, the Second Place Wallace Prize for Fiction, and was the inaugural recipient of the GrubStreet Emerging Writer Fellowship. When she isn't working, she's brainstorming ideas for new writing classes to teach and working on her novel.

“Learning that someone believes in and cares about [Onyx’s] story enough to give me the support, funding, and room of my own to fully realize it sent my soul soaring.”Shawnna Thomas

Program News

The residency has enabled several talented children’s authors to launch their literary careers. Program alumni have published (or are in the process of publishing) 34 titles! Highlights include:

  • In 2012, the Associates’ very first Writer-in-Residence, Hannah Barnaby, published the book that she wrote during her 2004–2005 residency, Wonder Show.
  • Elaine Dimopoulos published the book she wrote during her 2010–2011 residency, Material Girls, in May 2015.
  • Two debut novels written at the BPL were published in 2017: Natalie Coward Anderson's City of Saints and Thieves (January 2017) and Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake (March 2017). Both have been optioned for film adaptations!
  • 2006–2007 alum Anna Staniszewski has published multiple books, including the Unfairy Tale Life series, and most recently, Secondhand Wishes (January 2019.)
  • Atheneum plans to publish 2015–2016 alum Jennifer De Leon's debut novel, written during her residency, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From in Spring 2020.
  • 2011–2012 alum Sarah Winifred Searle's first graphic novel for middle-grade readers, Sincerely, Harriet, was published in May 2019.


Previous Writers-In-Residence

The Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence program is now in its sixteenth year.

To read about the previous fifteen talented authors click below.